Coaching Definitions PDF Print E-mail

Coaching - what is it and what is it not?

For the field of Coaching to graduate into a Profession a unified agreement will eventually be reached by peers and users of Coaching. MCF members agree Coaching is a distinctive modality apart from other professional modalities, such as consulting, training, mentoring and counselling.

MCF Defintion of Coaching

Coaching is unleashing untapped potential, by facilitating individuals or groups to mobilise their internal and external resources to an agreed upon outcome.  The MCF recognize three levels of coaching: performance, development, and transformational.  The process of coaching is a focused conversation that gets to "the heart of things" empowering a client with more choices and resources. Coaching is facilitating.


We use the term "meta" with regard to Coaching to highlight that Coaching itself is a meta-discipline.  This term "meta" refers to something that is higher than another thing.  In meta-communicating, we communicate about how we are talking and communicating.  In meta-cognition, we speak about how we are thinking.  The term "meta" literally means "above, beyond, and about" and so in coaching a coach works primarily with the structure and process of a client's experience rather than the content.  In Meta-Coaching we also use numerous meta-models for training our skills and competency in working with processes. 

Coaching is NOT Training

Training is a skill-based process for teaching and educating a person through a process to become able to perform new skills.  Training is solution oriented and is skill-centred or focused.  In training, an expert provides information and experience for the new skill to be developed and refined. While a Coaching participant may learn, Coaching is NOT teaching

Coaching is NOT Mentoring

Mentoring is focuses on a particular skill that a person wants to develop.  The mentor is typically more experienced, and skilled and gives suggestions, guidance, and direction.  Mentoring presupposes an unequal relationship in that a senior person (the mentor) passes on specific information to a less experienced person. While a Coaching participant may gain clarity and direction, Coaching is NOT guiding others to replicate the Coaches success.

Coaching is NOT Counselling (and Therapy)

Counselling and therapy focuses on problems for the purpose of bringing resolution to them.  Therapy refers to the healing of hurts and counselling typically focuses on the counsel or guidance for how to live life.  In both there is a focus on the source or sources of problems and the symptoms that result from those problems.  Both also typically (in traditional psychology, not the newer Cognitive therapies) consider people as broken and dysfunctional and needs to be helped or fixed.  As such counselling and therapy focuses on healing hurts and bringing resolution to personal pain.  Both imply that there's something wrong that needs to be fixed.  While Coaching may provide solutions, Coaching is NOT about fixing the past.

Coaching is NOT Consulting

Consulting involves giving advice and using one's own expertise in a given field to inform or tell an individual what to do.  While consulting can be facilitative, it can also involve procedures, and help people to do something new.  Consulting most often takes responsibility for otucomes and results. A Professional Coach NEVER gives advice after contracting to work with a client.

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