“Coaching is like therapy covered under business umbrella.”

As a life and business coach, I deal with a lot of misconceptions about coaching coming from different people. No wonder so many coaching engagements fail to live up to expectation when the goal is so often misunderstood. Writing this post, I intend to debunk these misconceptions and create more clarity around coaching. There are over 20 thousand certified life coaches around the world and much more who are not certified, though still use this title in their work. Honestly, I don’t find it professional since it creates a lot of confusion in the coaching field. Well, looks like I have already started with the first misconception:

1. Coaches do not need training. Everybody can become a coach.

I just met a woman who is a financial advisor: she mentioned in our conversation over a cup of coffee that she is truly passionate about life coaching considering herself… a coach. I asked her about her professional and educational background, though nothing was related to life coaching on top of her interest in reading self-help books. Just one example of thousands of people who identify themselves as life/business coaches, though haven’t completed an hour of a professional training program for coaches. Could a person be a fantastic coach, though not certified? Possibly, I can totally see that and know a couple of brilliant examples. However, there are core competencies for a coach that need to be developed as in any professional field. There are various avenues for it, though certification gives coaches a chance to meet certain professional requirements that are essential in a coaching relationship.

2. Coaching is like therapy. Coaches are “lazy therapists” that haven’t completed their degree or consultants who bring therapy under “business coaching” umbrella.

No doubt that both therapy and coaching overlap in many cases. Not going into a deep discussion, coaching focuses mostly on bridging your present and future: where you are now and what you want to do with your life. In our work as coaches, we do not go into the past that much and are not qualified to work with treating trauma. If a client would like to work on emotional or cognitive/mental disorder, I would refer this person to a certified therapist and would not start a coaching process. I consider it an ethical requirement for every coach.

3. Coaching costs a fortune.

Coaches charge money like all people who provide professional services. Coaches who work with companies in the USA charge on average $200/hour for their services. Coaches who are developing a private clientele can charge less. To the discussed topic, let me put it this way: among 20 000 coaches around the world you will be able to find at least one who will meet your budget for coaching. There are alternatives to long-term coaching like Insight Sessions. Consider coaching with recently certified coaches who are starting their own business – usually they offer some good deals as well.

4. Life coaches teach you how to live your life.

misconceptions about coaching - teacher

Well, to be honest with you, I do not teach or provide advice along with “magic pills” how to change one’s life for the better. It is definitely a process, not a destination that takes the two of us and requires a lot of work on both ends. All my clients, as all of us, are creative and resourceful people with capabilities to change behavior and establish better habits. I do not see myself as a teacher, mentor or consultant, rather your guide, partner and a caring supporter.

5. Coaching is only effective on a face-to-face basis.

Being present and staying with a client is essential in a coaching process. If there is an opportunity to coach in person, that is probably a primary option to be considered. However, I would highly recommend to give a long-distance coaching a try. Professional coaches know how to work with clients in all different ways, no matter if it is via Skype or over the phone. With about 60 percent of my clients we are working through Skype and it has proved to be a successful format for coaching.

6. Coaching is about career.

Misconceptions about coaching

Though a lot of clients who come to coaching feel stuck in their career, we typically do not end up working solely on it. Integral Coaching ®, the methodology that I work with, includes various aspects of our life: relationships, the environment that we live in, our ambitions, thoughts, how we relate to our bodies, to name a few. People come to coaching with all different types of problems: dealing with bad habits, procrastination, unhealthy relations, lack of confidence, uncertainty about the future or how to live and work out of passion that would lead to a more fulfilled life. Coaching as an approach to people development is not solely for people who work for large organizations either: some of my clients are non-profit organizations as well as private clients who have their own businesses or are not working at the moment. There is no “ideal” person for coaching from a social standpoint. One’s openness and readiness for change are way more important than a position, professional background or career aspirations.

7. “Coaching is for people who have problems. I’m not one of them.”

I would say that it is for people who see the value in support dealing with some obstacles on their life path. I look at my clients as courageous conscious people who made a decision to address these obstacles, rather than disregard or run away from them. If you are not sure about coaching, schedule a free introductory session. With most of the coaches it is for free. As a suggestion, you can schedule a one with me over here.

8. Coaching is helpful, though results and return on investment (ROI) are not guaranteed.

Coaching is an investment in yourself and it pays off: according to one of the recent ICF (International Coaching Federation) studies, “96 percent of clients indicated that they would repeat the coaching experience.” In the coaching programs that I design for clients I always start with the purpose and intended outcomes. It is critical for the success of coaching that both client and coach are on the same page with regards to where they are going with the coaching process.

9. Coaching is about listening and giving advice.

Coaching is based on the methodology. Listening skills are very important for every coach along with staying present with clients. As I mentioned earlier, coaching is not equal to advice giving – it is not a consulting type of work where you come to a client with a portfolio of solutions for each particular problem. In coaching we co-design the process as there are no cookie cutter solutions available. Moreover, if a coach uses the same practices over and over again working with different clients, for me it is an indicator of the lack of professionalism. Hire another coach 🙂

10. It’s better if women coach women and men coach men.

I would recommend anyone to look at coaches of both genders. At the end of the day, qualifications, life experiences and chemistry that builds in coaching between two people are rarely related to gender. Choose a person that resonates with you – this is critical for building trust and a powerful coaching relationship. Read his/her blog, books, articles, watch videos or simply have a conversation over coffee or via Skype. Get to know each other.

Well, these are some popular misconceptions about coaching that I typically deal with that come from potential clients. You can find more about coaching here.

As always, I will be glad to answer your questions and support you.

With care,

Masha Sweitzer