1. Myth: Life Coaching is therapy in disguise and people can turn to it to avoid the stigma associated with psychotherapy and counselling.
Reality: Coaching is not therapy. Therapy often addresses dysfunction, whereas coaching enables a functional person to move forward and achieve greater success. However, there are similarities between coaching and therapy. Firstly, both disciplines help us to recognise the limiting nature of some of our internal beliefs and feelings. Secondly, both enable us to understand that by altering our self-limiting beliefs we can achieve more positive behavioural outcomes.
Here, it is the responsibility of a coach to identify the extent to which an individual’s self-limiting belief is problematic. For example, if a client’s belief is rigidly held and destructive then the coach should refer the client to seek therapy. Alternatively, if a coach has the necessary skills and qualifications in psychotherapy or counselling then the coach could address the client’s problem.
2. Myth: A Life Coach is an expert who possesses the ‘right kind’ of knowledge to fix people’s problems.
Reality: Life Coaching promulgates a mutual alliance, in which the client holds the power to set the agenda and the coach acts as a catalyst to enable an individual to find his or her own solutions to problems. In this way, a client takes responsibility and ‘ownership’ of actions that lead to the results the client wants.
3. Myth: Coaching is essentially like mentoring, in which clients are provided with advice.
Reality: Coaching does not primarily involve giving advice. Rather, it raises people’s awareness of their own capabilities and is based on the assumption that people are naturally creative, resourceful and capable of achieving better results.
However, I advocate that as a last resort, suggestions for moving forward can be made with the permission of the client if they facilitate progress. Furthermore, in some instances a coach may provide consultative advice. For example, a coach who has a background in business may give business advice to executives alongside a coaching programme.
4. Myth: Life Coaching provides a cosy opportunity to chat about problems and issues.
Reality: Coaching involves a focused discussion, in which goals are developed, clarified and prioritised so that clients can take the necessary steps to increase their performance and achieve their objectives.
5. Myth: Life coaching doesn’t really produce results.
Reality: Life Coaching is about getting results. The process of coaching involves goal setting and as a consequence clients become accountable to the coach and to themselves in planning and implementing courses of action that lead to the achievement of their desired outcomes.
6. Myth: The coaching profession is unregulated so there is no way to assess the competencies of a coach.
Reality: Despite the fact that the coaching profession is currently unregulated there are a number of questions that can be explored to assess the competencies of a coach. For example:
7. Myth: People have a set of personality traits that are relatively unchangeable and so coaching must be limited in terms of helping people to change their behaviour.
Reality: The extent to which you can change someone’s personality is questionable. However, coaching can enable people to adopt different ways of thinking that empowers them to make positive behavioural changes.
8. Myth: Coaching takes up too much time to be worthwhile.
Reality: An effective coaching programme can be conducted over the telephone or in person and can involve an average amount of six sessions, each lasting 45 minutes. This type of programme can be tailored to ‘fit in’ with a person’s busy lifestyle.
9. Myth: There doesn’t seem to be a clear definition of what coaching is.
Reality: There are in existence multitudes of explanations about what life coaching is. However, I subscribe to the following definition that has been produced by the International Coaching Federation:
‘Coaching is an ongoing partnership that helps clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Through the process of coaching, clients deepen their learning, improve their performance and enhance their quality of life.’
10. Myth: Successful people don’t need coaching.
Reality: Testimonials show that successful people increase their success through coaching.
About the author:
These insights come from Nicky Michelmore who is a Personal and Professional Life Coach.
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