Coaching is an unregulated field in the United States. This means that anyone can offer any service and call themselves a coach. No one has the legal right to say that any service is “not coaching.”
But even without regulations, we can still find a helpful standard for coaching. Maybe the most widely respected coach credentialing group is the International Coaching Federation, and Northway Insights uses their standard.
Coaching vs. Counseling or Therapy
When someone needs recovery or healing, they probably want a counselor, doctor, or therapist. These are regulated fields, and those who practice them are trained to deal with things like trauma and abuse or other hurt or habits from the past.
Coaches aren’t primarily concerned with healing or recovery from past hurts. Though a client will often find some healing in the coaching relationship, a coach mostly helps healthy, well-adjusted people find success in future growth.
Coaching vs. Consulting or Mentoring
Consultants and mentors often play the role of an expert in a particular field or skill. A consultant gives advice on what a client should do to solve a problem, while a mentor helps a client change their actions or habits to reach the same skill level that the mentor has.
The challenge with consulting and mentoring is that a person or organization is more than their current project or problem. What worked for a mentor or consultant may not work for a client with different culture, mindset, or values. A coach is trained to look beyond the surface of the current project. A coach helps clients take advantage of their own unique background and experience to reach the results that are valuable to them.
Coaches don’t claim to be experts in the specific field where the client is looking for growth. A professional life coach helps the client find and remove the blinders and barriers that prevent them from seeing and acting on the insights they already have. Instead of giving detailed advice, a coach asks powerful questions to help a client sort through competing priorities, uncover hidden solutions, and find resources they didn’t know they had.
Not sure if coaching is what you’re looking for?
Meet Steve for a complementary 30-minute introduction. We’ll get to know each other, and I’ll let you know whether coaching is the right fit for whatever you’re facing. There’s no charge and absolutely no obligation. If you want to read more first, check out What can I expect from a coaching relationship?