The most exciting, complex and revealing journey we can undertake in life, is the one that leads us to self-discovery. Outside there is a world to explore, but inside too. Knowing ourselves is the key to feeling satisfied, achieving well-being and developing our potential to the fullest, so that we can achieve our goals.
Coaching is precisely a process that helps us discover ourselves and grow as a person to turn our dreams into reality. For this reason, it is not surprising that Coaching and Emotional Intelligence programs duly endorsed by the International Association of Coaching and Mentoring (AICM), are so requested.
In the United States, for example, 43% of people have already used the services of a coach and an additional 22% say they would like to undergo psychological coaching in the future, according to a report by Grand View Research. Without a doubt, increased work stress, a busier lifestyle and awareness of the need to take care of our mental health, are some of the factors that are increasing the demand for this type of personal discovery process.
What does the word coaching mean exactly?
The origin of the term dates back to the 15th century, when at the University of Oxford, in England, the word “coach” was used to refer to the tutor or mentor who helped students prepare for exams. The term was associated with the idea of guiding and supporting someone in their learning and development process, both professionally and personally.
Over time, the term “coach” began to be used in different areas, such as sports and business. In these contexts, it described a professional who provided support, guidance and motivation to others to achieve their goals and make the most of their potential.
Therefore, coaching is a personalized accompaniment process that is based on a relationship of trust between the person who serves as a coach and the coachee, who “receives” the coach’s knowledge and tools.
What is coaching in Psychology and how is it different from psychotherapy?
In the field of Psychology, coaching allows people to discover their own answers and achieve extraordinary results through strategic questions and reflection techniques and constructive feedback.
Psychological coaching is a process whose main objective is to help us achieve certain goals, for which it encourages the development of the skills we need and teaches us to identify and overcome obstacles to our well-being.
Unlike psychotherapy, the coaching process does not address the irrational or pathological aspects of life. It does not focus too much on the past, but is fundamentally oriented to the present and projects towards the future to help us feel better about ourselves, ensure smoother life transitions, strengthen our relationships, face challenges, achieve our goals or improve the quality of life both on a personal and professional level.
Carol Kauffman, professor at Harvard Medical School, masterfully summarized the differences between psychotherapy and coaching: “In therapy you follow the trail of tears with the goal of healing. People’s levels of functioning and satisfaction increase as a side effect. In coaching, dreams are followed with the aim of stimulating the person to be the best version of themselves. As a side effect, some type of healing may occur.”
In fact, in its beginnings, coaching focused primarily on the workplace, to help people achieve their professional goals, but little by little it has expanded, so that currently there are also coaches who promote personal growth and help people overcome everyday problems that may be interfering with their relationships, well-being and happiness.
What benefits can a coaching process bring us?
Coaching offers a wide range of benefits to help us grow and thrive in all aspects of our lives:
1. Gain confidence and clarity
One of the greatest benefits of coaching is that it provides a safe space for us to gain confidence and clarity. After surveying more than 200 people who had gone through a coaching process, a study published in the International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring revealed that they acknowledged having gained more confidence in their abilities and greater self-assurance.
They also agreed that coaching helped them clarify their goals, increase self-awareness, and optimize their focus. Without a doubt, the coaching process allows us to recognize our strengths, increase our self-esteem and trust ourselves more.
2. Learning and growth
Coaching is the universal language of change and learning. This process gives us an opportunity to get to know ourselves better and develop the skills we need to achieve our goals. Through coaching we can acquire key skills, from assertive communication to decision making and time management, that will be useful to us in both our personal and professional lives.
The coach is a counselor who helps us develop our potential. He promotes self-reflection processes through a series of key questions that generate deep insights and give rise to new discoveries. A coach will also help us identify the obstacles that prevent us from moving forward and be aware of our limitations, but at the same time will provide us with psychological tools and new perspectives so that we can successfully face challenges.
3. Greater performance and self-efficacy
The transformative process that coaching processes usually begin ends up being reflected in our performance. In fact, one of the greatest benefits of coaching is precisely its pragmatic nature. When we know ourselves better, we gain security and confidence in ourselves, in addition to developing the skills we need, so it is not difficult for life to change.
In this sense, a study carried out at the University of Reading found that one of the main results of coaching is the transfer of learning to performance. In other words, we are able to apply what we learn in coaching sessions in our daily lives, so it is not surprising that its impact is so positive.
When should we resort to coaching?
Every time we propose ourselves something, we must keep in mind that we move on two relatively different planes: the exterior and the interior. We have to overcome external obstacles and deal with time and resource limitations. However, there is also an inner realm that occurs in our minds. At this level, obstacles and limitations arise such as fear, doubts, lack of concentration and/or limiting beliefs. Coaching fundamentally focuses on that inner plane to help us identify and overcome self-imposed obstacles that prevent us from achieving our potential.
Therefore, it is a good idea to turn to a coach when we feel stuck in life and we have the feeling that we are not moving forward. It is also a good idea when we are not clear about what we want and we are going through a transition period. Or even when we are clear about our goals, but we don’t know how to achieve them.
Coaching is also convenient when we want to develop certain skills or personal characteristics, be it Emotional Intelligence, leadership or self-esteem. In these cases, the coach can make the difference between a dream and an objective by turning a mere illusion into a concrete plan.
We should also turn to coaching when we want to make changes in our life, but we have no idea how to start. If we need someone to push us to take the next step or help us focus, coaching is a good option. After all, almost all of us need some positive external encouragement from time to time to make our dreams come true or for someone to help point out what we are not able to see.
Last but not least, it is essential to put yourself in the hands of a coach who has the appropriate training. The coaching process is not the exclusive preserve of psychologists, so it is important to ensure that that person has the necessary knowledge and tools to accompany us throughout this transformation process.
(2021) U.S. Life Coaching Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Coaching Method (Virtual, In-person) And Segment Forecasts, 2023 – 2030. In: Grand View Research.
Van Zyl, L. et. Al. (2020) Positive Organizational Interventions: Contemporary Theories, Approaches and Applications. Front. Psychol.; 11: 10.3389.
Jones, R. J. et. Al. (2016) The effectiveness of workplace coaching: A meta-analysis of learning and performance outcomes from coaching. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology; 89(2): 249–277.
Lai, Y.-L. & McDowall, A. (2014) A systematic review of (SR) coaching psychology: Focusing on the attributes of effective coaching psychologists. International Coaching Psychology Review; (9(2): 118–134.
Leedham, M. (2005) The coaching scoreboard: A holistic approach to evaluating the benefits of business coaching. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring; 3(2): 30–44.