Coaching Explained

The ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.

Professional coaching is an interactive process that helps individuals and organizations improve performance and achieve extraordinary results. Professional coaches work with clients in all areas, including but certainly not limited to business, career, finances, health and relationships. As a result of professional coaching, clients set better goals, take more action, make better decisions and more fully use their natural strengths.

How Does It Work?
Typically, in each coaching session, you, as the client, choose the focus of conversation, while the coach listens and contributes observations and questions. This interaction creates clarity and helps you move  into action. Coaching accelerates your progress by providing greater focus and awareness of choice. Coaching concentrates on where you are now and what you are willing to do -- and who you are willing to be -- to get where you want to be in the future.

A coach does just what an athletic coach or music teacher might do, only in a more complete and encompassing way. A coach challenges you and takes the time to find out what success in life means to you. A coach is your partner in living the life you know you can accomplish, personally and professionally. It can be difficult to reach our fullest potential alone. Athletes and performers understand this. They know they need someone else -- a trained professional -- to help set goals, discover real needs, and work effectively toward ultimate goals of excellence. So, they hire a coach or a teacher. No serious athlete or musician would expect to progress very far without one. Neither should you.

And unlike business consultants who are hired to provide solutions, coaches believe the solutions lie within you. They may be hidden or stuck, but they're in there! The coach's job is to draw out, provide support, and enhance the skills, resources and creativity that are within you so that you can achieve your goals.

Who Should Hire A Coach?
Hire a coach if you want better results, faster. Organizations and individuals; executives and parents; spouses and managers -- all have hired coaches. If you or your organization is ready to stretch, grow, and discover, you're probably ready to work with a coach.

Do Coaches Work With Individuals or Organizations?
Either, or both, actually. Often, the line between personal and business life blurs, and coaches are the only professionals trained to work with all aspects of your life.

Are There Different Kinds of Coaches?
Yes. While some coaches are generalists, most work in particular niches, including but not limited to business, children, executives, organizations, parents or relationships. There is a coach to meet your particular interests.

Why Is Coaching Becoming So Popular?

Because results matter. We've long understood the need for an athletic coach, a music teacher, or a personal trainer. Coaching enables you or your organization to have those same benefits to reach new levels of success. And who doesn't want more success?

Isn't This Just Therapy?
No. Coaching is not therapy. Coaches don't work with mental illness, focus on the past, or deal much with dissecting personality. Coaching is about envisioning and creating goals for a better future and working in partnership toward those new possibilities.

How Long Do We Work Together?
Sometimes it is as brief as the time it takes to accomplish a specific goal or project, but more often it is an ongoing relationship of at least three to six months. You'll be amazed at how much progress you'll make along the way.

What Does It Cost?
Most coaches working with individuals charge $200 to $450 per month for a weekly session (typically a half-hour to an hour). Executive coaches charge more, often running $1,000 to $10,000 per month.

Do Coaches Have Credentials?
Yes! Coaching is a relatively new profession, but the best coaches recognize the need to be credentialed. Look for a coach that is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF). ICF has established Standards of Ethical Conduct for all coaches to ensure consistent professionalism. There are also specific training programs for coaches that are recognized by ICF. Additionally, many coaches are working toward or hold one of ICF's credentials. These include: Associate Certified Coach (ACC); Professional Certified Coach (PCC); or Master Certified Coach (MCC).

Ready to Find a DC-Area Coach Now?
You can find your own coach today by using our ICF chapter's Find a Coach service.