Misconceptions about Coaching

There was a time, not too long ago, that coaching was considered a luxury for the elite, an expense reserved for those in C suite-level positions or middle managers being groomed for upper executive positions.

As evidenced, however, by astounding numbers from around the world, coaching isn’t merely for those who have excessive disposable income or corporate careers headed only toward a specific direction.

Coaching, truly, is for everyone.

But this isn’t the only misconception about coaching. Even those who’ve come to realize that coaching is being utilized outside of the corporate space might still be carrying some apprehension over what coaching really is.

Here are some typical myths:

Coaching is to correct bad behavior. Coaching isn’t therapy; it isn’t to diagnose, treat or correct mental illness. It’s not even a tool to “fix” something wrong.

Coaching isn’t about reversing bad behavior, but rather to guide the individual toward the discovery of what they’re capable of, what they’ve done well so far, and what more they can do. Coaching is ultimately about building, as opposed to fixing; it’s about discovery, not about correction.

Coaching is touchy-feely and is only for people who like to talk. It’s true that coaching requires communication and a grasp of soft skills; ironically, many people who might have avoided coaching because they think it’s about “soft stuff” avoid it because it’s so hard! 

Different coaches have different methods, to start. Some coaches are firmer, while others are indeed softer and have a less assertive way. However, regardless of the coach’s approach, no issue should or would ever be minimized – including a client’s desire to tread slowly and carefully.  

Coaching is the same as therapy, but without the stigma. Coaching is absolutely not therapy. 

Therapists typically assist with mental health challenges and may be responsible for diagnosis as well as assessments. Therapists are licensed, bound by ethical standards determined by state and country, and typically specialize in scientifically-backed methods like cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and cognitive processing therapy. Therapists typically focus on the past and present. 

Coaching, on the other hand, focuses on future goals: who you want to be, where you want to be, and to how to get there. Although coaches are not licensed to work with serious and specific mental health problems, they’re there to help you improve your performance. They’re there to help you develop your potential, guide you toward the right direction, help you with goal setting and even open your eyes to solutions you’d never considered before.

Coaches just tell you what to do so you don’t have to think. Coaches don’t tell clients what to do, they ask. They ask the right questions so that the client finds the answers through self-discovery. If a coach tells a person what to do, the solution loses its power; the individual doesn’t learn anything. Profound change is made when the individual, through honest self-assessment, figures it out on their own – with the coach’s assistance, of course.

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