Updated: Jan 13, 2022
*This article was made of an excerpt from The Meta-Coaching System - L Michael Hall Ph.D
Coaching is still a fairly new and fast growing industry. It's still working out its identity and, depending on what any given coach cares most about, or where that coach learned his basic skills, some will define coaching as a version of consulting, mentoring, training or even therapy but it is none of these.
Coaching is not therapy, consulting, mentoring or training, but at times a coach may dance into at least three of these modalities.
Coaching operates from a different psychology than the psychology that informs and governs consulting, mentoring, therapy and training. It is founded in humanistic psychology, the positive psychology of the first human potential movement that Maslow, Rogers, May and many others developed.
It is founded on the concepts that we are made for change, growth and ongoing development.
Coaching is truly different in that it centres in a special kind of dialogue whereby the client discovers via the challenging questions that confront him or her about possibilities. It centres in an intimate and fierce conversation that gets the client to discover and mobilize latent potentials which then unleash the person to become his or her own best version.
Here are a variety of ways to define coaching:
Coaching is a collaborative partnership that gets to the heart of a person's meanings and values to facilitate greater meaningfulness for self-actualization.
Coaching is a solution-focused orientation to life’s challenges and problems.
Coaching is a process for empowering oneself to take charge of one’s life and live more fully and authentically.
Coaching ennobles people by calling forth their best and challenging people to step up to their potentials.
Coaching is a person-focused conversation that awakens visions, values, and meanings from deep within a person.
Coaching is a conversation for setting and achieving goals to enhance the quality of life.
Coaching accelerates learning in adults to be more creative and innovative in their lives and careers.
Coaching is a process for facilitating change so that people can think more, feel more, know more, speak more, do more, achieve more and give more.
Definition of coaching as described by L Micheal Hall in his book - The Meta-Coaching System:
Coaching is the art of facilitating with a client a ruthlessly compassionate conversation to an agreed upon outcome that’s specific and exciting. It is a fierce conversation that is entirely client-focused which gets to the heart of things for the client - his/her meanings and values. The conversation identifies and mobilizes his/her internal and external resources for generative change that unleashes and actualises potentials.
How does coaching differ from therapy?
Therapy is about caring, nurturing, re-parenting and is problem focused; Coaching is about challenging, stretching, pushing, and is solution-centred.
The assumption in therapy is that there's something wrong, or broken, or traumatized in the client and the therapist has the skills to facilitate rectifying that problem. The focus is on developing the ego-strength to face reality and to become okay in oneself. In the process it deals with a whole range of strong and debilitating emotions such as anxiety, depression, anger, fear, etc. While coaching deals with negative emotions, the ordinary emotions of people are not debilitating - they are just emotions. Emotions, even the negative ones, and even the intensely negative ones, are a normal part of life, and even part of the self-actualizing life.
A coach does not assume an authority role with or over the client. The coach works with the client as an equal in their personal development.
Coaching is not therapy but it is very therapeutic and can be a great option for those who are seeking to resolve problems in their lives if they are able to stay at Cause and capable of taking action towards their desired outcomes.
It is important to know that a coach will not resolve the problem for a client. A coach will not heal, fix or re-parent but they will help the client resolve their problems and empower them through the coaching process.