Prospective coaching clients sometimes confuse coaching with therapy, mentoring or other areas of expertise. Each has its value and applicability, but there are important differences. The following definitions, adapted from the NASA Coaching Handbook, illustrate these differences.
COACHING: A coach concentrates on personal and professional success. How effective is the individual at achieving their goals and getting what they want out of life? Coaching is future focused, aimed at identifying and understanding barriers and designing strategies and actions to eliminate those barriers and improve effectiveness. Knowledge resides with the individual being coached.
Sample conversation: "What have you tried? How has this worked? What else can you try?"
COUNSELING OR THERAPY: A counselor or therapist provides support in enabling individuals to deal with experiences that are negatively impacting their lives. The focus is on reconciling the past. Understanding resides with the individual only after the counselor has supported the reconciliation process. Knowledge eventually resides with the individual.
Sample conversation: "What happened in the past that is inhibiting you from getting what you want out of life today?"
MENTORING: A mentor provides knowledge, information, and advice based on his/her experience. The focus is on passing on guidance that helped the mentor be successful in a similar situation in the past. The experience resides with the mentor.
Sample conversation: "This is how I did it."
TRAINING: A trainer provides a structured program based on personal knowledge. The focus is on the acquisition of specific knowledge or skills. The trainer has the knowledge.
Sample conversation: "Research and experience have shown this to be the best way."