1. What is Coaching?
2. How Does a Coach Differ from a Friend?
3. For Whom is Coaching Appropriate?
4. Are Coaching and Therapy the Same?
5. How Do I Find a Qualified Life Coach?

1. What is Coaching?

Have you ever found yourself in the uneasy position of wanting to reach a specific goal but don’t know what steps to take to achieve it? Or perhaps, even more discomforting, you have a vague feeling of wanting something for yourself but can’t articulate exactly what it is that you want? Coaching is the service that enables someone who finds herself in either situation to identify her needs, formulate them as concrete objectives and then develop and successfully complete a series of steps to fulfill them.

Coaching usually takes place through hour-long phone conversations between the client and the coach. To maintain continuity, sessions should take place at least once per week. In the first session, the client introduces herself and delineates her goals; the coach describes the general principles of coaching and demonstrates their effectiveness in this and subsequent sessions.

The principles of coaching can be summarized as follows:

1. All conversations between the client and the coach are confidential. The client calls the coach at the appointed time from the privacy of her home or work.

2. The coach’s role is to support the client. The coach uses her intuition and deep listening skills to clarify the client’s goals and develop a strategy for attaining them.

3. The client is the expert on her life. Therefore, the client sets the agenda and decides what she wants to accomplish in each session.

4. Coaching is positive and proactive. Together, the coach and client capitalize on the client’s strengths as the basis for moving forward.

5. Coaching focuses on the here and now. The client develops the ability to identify and fulfill her needs regardless of what has happened in the past.

6. Coaching is collaborative. The coach demonstrates respect for the client’s values and in turn requests open and honest feedback about their progress.

In sum, the coaching process enables the client to transform her difficulties into opportunities for learning and growth.

2. How does a Coach Differ from a Friend?

A good friend empathizes, accepts you, and does not judge your feelings or actions. The coach begins where your friend leaves off. While the latter may understand surface issues, a skilled coach listens on a deeper level not only to what the client is saying but also to her energy, emotions and patterns of thinking. Your friend provides care and concern; your coach provides inspiration and tools for change.

A Certified Coach meets rigorous standards set by the International Coach Federation (ICF). Through specialized training and supervised coaching sessions, the Certified Coach attains the expertise to engage clients in a uniquely creative process. She uses specific coaching techniques that result in maximizing her client’s personal and professional capabilities.

3. For Whom is Coaching Appropriate?

The coaching client is creative, resourceful and whole. The client feels “stuck” in an unpleasant or unhealthy lifestyle and wants to overcome this impasse and move towards a better state. She views coaching as a means of freeing up her talents, strengths and personal resources to attain her life goals.

The coaching client can be relied upon to keep her appointments and meet her responsibilities as delineated in the contract between her and her coach. She willingly accepts the time and monetary investment required to achieve success. She is ready to partner with her coach to bring about lasting change.

4. Are Coaching and Therapy the Same?

Coaching is not “telephone therapy” and does not substitute for psychotherapeutic treatment for identifiable mental health disorders.
Following is a list of the most significant differences between the two services:


1. Relationship based on authority
2. Client

    a. Patient who seeks treatment for emotional problems
    b. Determines whether or not to work on goals between sessions

3. Therapist

    a. Interprets feelings, diagnoses and provides answers
    b. Examines past influences
    c. Analyzes & explores obstacles
    d. Permits client to meander
    e. Focuses on process of therapy
    f. Stays neutral & separate from client’s agenda


1. Relationship based on equality
2. Client

    a. Healthy individual who seeks to attain important life goals
    b. Commits to & held accountable for between-session work

3. Coach

    a. Asks questions, affirms and elicits client’s knowledge
    b. Emphasizes present and future
    c. Identifies obstacles to overcome
    d. Bottom-lines client: What next?
    e. Focuses on outcome & change
    f. Cheers client & participates in formulating & achieving agenda

5. How do I find a Qualified Life Coach?

Since Life Coach does not signify a legal, standardized license anyone can call herself a life coach after a “quickie” course. In contrast, those coaches who have been certified by the International Coach Federation (ICF) meet internationally-recognized qualifications for coaching.

Many coaches offer a free sample session. Doing so acquaints you with the experience of being coached by a trained, certified professional. When you contact a coach, describe your situation and what you hope to accomplish with coaching. If you and the coach feel comfortable with each other and agree that coaching is appropriate for you, you will sign a coaching contract and set up your first session. The coaching process will then begin. You’ll be amazed at the results.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Mona Spiegel, PhD, CMC is a Licensed Psychologist and Certified Life Coach. Women turn to her after hearing her lead a workshop, read an article she’s written, or through the recommendations of friends who have experienced the value of her coaching. Dr. Spiegel helps women resolve their problems and tap their inner strengths to realize their goals and dreams. Dr. Spiegel is a member of the American Psychological Association and the International Coach Federation. Learn more about her at www.myfamilycoach.com.