What is coaching?

Consider Coaching

At its best, coaching is a partnership relationship. Rather than the coach being “the expert” and providing answers for the client; the client is the expert and the coach helps the client to become even more of an expert.

ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative and resourceful.


The coach’s responsibility is to:

 – Discover, clarify and align with what the client wants to achieve.
Encourage client self-discovery.
Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies.
– Hold the client responsible and accountable.

There are various other definitions available what coaching is and what it isn’t. Below you will find the classification from ICF and a map that visualizes the discovery process.


Consider Consulting

Individuals or organizations retain consultants for their expertise. While consulting approaches vary widely, the assumption is the consultant will diagnose problems and prescribe and, sometimes, implement solutions.

Consider Mentoring

A mentor is an expert who provides wisdom and guidance based on his or her own experience. Mentoring may include advising, counseling and coaching.

Consider Training

Training programs are based on objectives set out by the trainer or instructor. Training also assumes a linear learning path that coincides with an established curriculum.

Consider Therapy

The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past that hamper an individual’s emotional functioning in the present, improving overall psychological functioning, and dealing with the present in more emotionally healthy ways.

ICF Members have received training to discern the differences between coaching and therapy and are obliged by the organization’s Code of Ethics to refer prospective or current clients to therapists when appropriate.

ICF has created a map which can help you to clarify what you need. Just get in contact to receive the document.