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HomeAbout Coaching

What is coaching?

ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaching is a client-driven process. Coaching is an ongoing partnership that helps clients produce results in their lives they might not achieve alone. It is a unique process that differs from therapy, mentoring, counseling, and training.

The coach partners with his/her client to:

  1. Discover and clarify the client’s goals
  2. Encourage client self-discovery
  3. Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies
  4. Hold the client responsible and accountable
  5. Move the client forward in learning and personal growth

How is coaching distinct from other service professions?

Professional coaching focuses on setting goals, creating outcomes and managing personal change. Sometimes it’s helpful to understand coaching by distinguishing it from other personal or organizational support professions.

  • Therapy: Therapy deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or in relationships. 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. Coaching, on the other hand, supports personal and professional growth based on self-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. Coaching is future-focused, and the coaching relationship emphasizes action, accountability and follow-through.
  • 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. With coaching, the assumption is that individuals or teams are capable of generating their own solutions, with the coach supplying supportive, discovery-based approaches and frameworks.
  • 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.
  • Training: Training programs are based on objectives set out by the trainer or instructor. Though objectives are clarified in the coaching process, they are set by the individual or team being coached, with guidance provided by the coach. Training also assumes a linear learning path that coincides with an established curriculum. Coaching is less linear, without a set curriculum.
  • Athletic Development: Though sports metaphors are often used, professional coaching is different from sports coaching. The athletic coach is often seen as an expert who guides and directs the behavior of individuals or teams based on his or her greater experience and knowledge.

Professional coaches possess these qualities, but their experience and knowledge of the individual or team determines the direction. Additionally, professional coaching does not focus on behaviors that are being executed poorly or incorrectly. Instead, the focus is on identifying opportunity for development based on individual strengths and capabilities.


Why should I partner with a coach?


If you want to take advantage of an opportunity or challenge, feel “stuck” on the path to achieving your goals or simply believe there is something more to discover in your personal or professional life, partnering with a professional coach could be beneficial for you.

According to the 2014 ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study, the most frequently cited reasons for partnering with a coach were to optimize individual/team work performance (42%), expand professional career opportunities (33%) and increase self-esteem/self-confidence (31%). 

Other common reasons for partnering with a coach include:
• Maximizing potential

• Defining strengths and weaknesses

• Improving business management strategies
• Managing work/life balance

Organizations invest in coaching to help workers:
• grow their skills
• enhance their value and reach goals

Organizational decision-makers report using coaching to: 
• Augment the organization’s leadership
• Increase employee engagement
• Improve communication skills and teamwork


Professional coaching brings many wonderful benefits: fresh perspectives on personal challenges, enhanced decision-making skills, greater interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence. And, the list does not end there. Those who undertake coaching also can expect appreciable improvement in productivity, satisfaction with life and work, and the attainment of relevant goals.

International Coach Federation Core Purpose:

To advance the art, science and practice of professional coaching. The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the largest worldwide resource for business and personal coaches, and the source for those who are seeking a coach.


ICF is a nonprofit, individual membership organization formed by professionals worldwide who practice business and personal coaching and consists of more than 18,000 members in more than 100 countries around the world.


ICF exists to build, support and preserve the integrity of the coaching profession. The organization accredits coach training programs that meet its stringent standards (see accredited programs) and develops and implements programs that assist in the professional development of its membership. In addition to the professional development opportunities of an annual conference, the ICF provides professional growth opportunities through its local, regional and virtual chapters throughout the world.


ICF developed and promotes an industry-wide Code of Professional Standards and the first universally accepted accreditation process which will preserve the integrity of coaching through standardized credentials that will assist consumers in choosing professional coaches.


To contact the international office of ICF, located in the United States, e-mail or call 888.423.3131 (toll free), or +1.859.219.3580.


To learn more about ICF Global, click HERE.


To learn more about Coach Training and Credentialing, click HERE