What Is Coaching?

November 15, 2021

What is Coaching?

There are business coaches, life coaches, academic coaches, and coaches for just about everything else in our modern world, but what do all of these coaches have in common? What do they actually do? What IS coaching, and why should you care? Well, if we drill down to the most basic concept that modern-day coaching is founded upon – the fundamental meaning behind the surge of new coaches joining the industry – we find that it boils down to one powerful word:


Coaching is a future-oriented method of connecting with yourself, the world, and others, and learning about what makes you take action. This means exploring your mind, your goals, your hopes and dreams, and taking an introspective look at your relationships with others to identify ways that you can improve yourself for greater personal success. The way that we connect with ourselves and the world around us is inherent to our very beings and speaks to the authenticity that drives our deepest passions. When you work with a coach who understands how essential the concept of connection really is, they can help you to see the person you wish to be and support your quest to shape your ideas into a positive reality. Your coach will help you unlock your potential.

We all make judgments about ourselves and let the judgments of others affect us to some degree, but coaching can remove those premonitions and give us the strength and courage to view ourselves with curiosity instead of doubt. This means letting go of the preconceived notion that we must be all things to all people, or that we should attempt to shroud our authenticity for the sake of fitting into the box that society so hastily constructed to deter us from personal progress. Coaching teaches us to become empathetic witnesses to the story of our own lives and to become better people overall. Better leaders, better friends, better partners, and better for connecting with ourselves.

If you want to take advantage of a professional opportunity, feel stuck, or just want to tackle a challenge, connecting with a professional coach could benefit you. Before seeking out a coach though, read more below to better understand what exactly they can do to help you.

Is Coaching Confidential?

Yes, coaching is confidential. But what does that mean practically? The International Coach Federation (ICF), which sets the professional and ethical standards for coaching globally, defines confidentiality as “protection of any information obtained around the coaching engagement unless consent to release is given.” This means that any coaching you pursue is protected and confidential whether it occurs in person or by digital means. Your coach can ask for your consent and approval to share your story as it relates to their work, but you always have the right to decline your approval and retain your privacy.

There are, however, three reasons why coaches may share information that is obtained during your sessions, and it's important to understand the reasoning behind them.

  • Unethical behavior

The ICF considers confidentiality to be among their code of ethics, but it is ultimately up to each individual coach to adhere to these ethics. Seek out ICF-trained coaches who demonstrate an understanding of ethical practices.

  • Third-party coaching

If your coaching sessions are provided by your employer or other organization there may be an agreement in place that allows your coach to share progress information with your superiors. These terms should always be outlined in advance.

Coaches must adhere to laws and regulations the same way that other professionals must, in that, if they believe that you pose a safety risk to yourself or others, they are legally obligated to report their concerns.

7 Ways to Identify the Right Coach for You

Effective coaching works to encourage you to overcome your obstacles and understand why you may struggle to make progress. Here are seven ways that you can identify a good coach:

  1. Speak to potential coaches before you begin.

Most reputable coaches will offer a complimentary consultation session to determine if there is a good fit. This is an essential step in identifying whether you are compatible and are able to connect on a deeper level with that individual.

  1. Understand the value of trust.

You should feel comfortable discussing your vulnerabilities with your coach. Connecting with your coach means believing your coach has your best interests at heart and exploring the things that are keeping you stuck.

  1. Ask about their coaching experience.

You want to know that your coach has been thoroughly trained and has earned, or is seeking, a recognized credential. Look for coaches who have completed accredited training through the ICF or hold an ICF credential. You should also find out how long they have been coaching, and if they have worked with a wide range of clients.

  1. Request case studies and success stories.

To understand how a potential coach operates and what their view of an ideal client is, ask them about previous interactions. A good mix of case studies can help you determine if there is enough compatibility and that the energy and enthusiasm they have would allow you to meaningfully connect with them.

  1. Ask about their methods and style.

Do they use a program that you will work through, or do they prefer a freer environment where they can explore with you? What philosophy drives their coaching? Discovering how they operate can illustrate whether your needs will be met.

  1. Find out their preferred contact terms.

Some coaches will welcome the opportunity for you to contact them outside of planned sessions, while others will prefer a more defined schedule. Communication style is important for the best connection, so depending on your needs, you may prefer one over the other.

  1. Prepare yourself for the journey.

Coaching isn't a magic elixir that can resolve your roadblocks overnight. Changing entrenched patterns in your life and mind takes time. You may want to plan for several months or even a year's worth of sessions at a time. You may also find you come back to coaching over time as you establish new goals, and discover more about yourself.

Ready to change your life? Reach out to Coaching for Good today to book a consultation with ICF-certified coaches that are ready to help you become a confident team leader!