Coaching is a counselling model that is characterised by various criteria. The most essential are:
- Coach and client are equal and are “at eye level”:
The client is an expert for his system and context, the coach is an expert for leading the conversation and dealing with problems in a goal- and solution-oriented way.
- Solution orientation: Coaching is oriented towards “(solving) problems” and not towards the search for “causes of problems”.
- Cooperation between coach and client is an essential basis of coaching, with the client (person) at the centre of the counselling.
- Coaching methods and interventions aim to increase the number of choices for the client and open up new options.
- Ongoing appreciation of the client as well as empowerment and focusing on the client’s resources form another important element in coaching.
- Professional knowledge is brought in by the coach in the sense of an offer for the client – the client has the option of accepting or rejecting this offer (cf. differentiation from professional counselling).
- Coaching forms a “protected framework” for the client – absolute confidentiality is an important basis for this. Likewise, complete voluntariness is an indispensable prerequisite for successful coaching (cf. point 3 – Framework conditions).
Areas of application of coaching are e.g. counselling and support …
- … of managers in a wide variety of problems in a professional context.
- … of people in change processes in a professional context, including
- Search for new professional perspectives (reorientation)
- Change of tasks in the company
- Job loss
- Starting a new job.
- … of employees who are faced with difficult tasks for them.
- … of people who want to improve their work-life balance.
- … of teams who want to improve their cooperation.
Differentiation from other interpersonal forms of counselling:
- Psychotherapy is a “healing process” aimed at people suffering from mental disorders. Psychotherapy is a (usually) longer-term process that works on deep personal problems.
- Supervision mostly serves the purpose of quality assurance. Coaching is more universal and more oriented towards the individual goals of the client
- In mentoring, the focus is on supporting an employee in mastering a specific task, usually the assumption of a leadership or management function. An essential element is that the mentor brings his or her own experience into the counselling process.
Methods and interactions
Coaching is often reduced to the methods used. In my view, the question whether method A or method B is used is of secondary importance. It is much more important that the coach succeeds in establishing a good and trusting relationship with the client and subsequently recognises at which point in time which method or intervention is most suitable for the client.
Therefore, I think it makes sense for a coach to have as broad a toolbox of methods as possible, but I do not want to go into individual methods here.
Irrespective of the methods used, I see the following essential interrelationships of effects:
Appreciation activates the resources of the client
By highlighting “what is going well” or “what used to go well”, the client becomes aware of the possibilities he has at his disposal – “forgotten” strengths come to the surface again. As a result, their own success becomes more tangible, which in turn contributes to the achievement of their own goals.
Coaching as a space for reflection
For many clients, the mere possibility of dealing with their own issues and having time only for this is a big step towards achieving the goal. Often the clarification of the task and goal in coaching (“What do you want to have achieved at the end of the coaching?”) already leads to a new clarity for the client and forms the first step towards problem (resolution). Because: once the goal is really clear, the development of solution and implementation strategies is usually relatively easy.
Change of perspective
The adoption of a different, new perspective or point of view by the client often opens up new possibilities. It happens time and again that a problem disappears simply because the client sees it from a different perspective. Changes of perspective also help the client to see new options and possibilities for action – which is an important and desired goal of any coaching process.
Framework conditions for successful coaching
The following prerequisites should be in place for successful coaching:
- The client makes use of the coaching voluntarily. He has initiated the coaching process of his own free will and can also end it at any time.
- The client makes use of coaching to achieve a goal. This can (but does not have to) mean changing their situation. Maintaining a situation (e.g. good team cooperation) can also be the goal of coaching.
- Absolute confidentiality and secrecy. Especially if the client is a third person or company. In this case, it must be clear to all parties involved that no information from the coaching will be passed on by the coach to third parties.
- Clarity and transparency about the (rough) course of the coaching process. This includes in particular
- Duration of the coaching units
- Way of making appointments
- How many coaching units does the counselling include?
- At what intervals do the coaching sessions take place?
- Methods that are explicitly desired or explicitly not desired by the client
- Undisturbed coaching process (separate room without listeners)
- Clarification of the financial framework conditions (amount of the fee, who is the client? Compensation for ancillary costs and expenses, etc.).
- Clarification of these framework conditions before the coaching process begins, e.g. during the initial interview.
It doesn’t matter whether personality or professional coaching is being carried out. For the coachee, it is always about working on themselves and becoming capable of developing solutions themselves.
With his tools, his techniques and his wealth of experience, the coach merely helps to achieve what the Persian poet Hafis demands: “You are your own limit, rise above it.”