Frequently asked questions

Why coaching?

Equality & Empowerment. Coaching rejects external ideas of right or wrong, in favour of a positive inner evaluation of yourself and your autonomy. It's a directive process which fosters self-expertise. 

Awareness & Responsibility. Change emerges as a function of your awareness of yourself plus your responsibility toward yourself. These are aspects unique to you that coaching explores in depth, and challenges you to reconsider and to act upon. 

Goals & directions. Coaching starts from the idea that you should orientate towards choices and behaviours that are in harmony with your values. It helps makes sure that your direction is meaningful to you, a path towards an idea of yourself that you are enthused about pursuing.

Here are some other answers that my help you understand what coaching is, and isn't. You can also read about my approach to coaching or contact me with any questions about its relevance your situation.

What's a coach?

"Coach" is a catch-all term used by a variety of practitioners. It generally means someone who helps bring about positive change in someone's life, career, relationships, or other domain

I principally focus on preparing clients for change.  Whereas I am directive about the process we go through, but non-directive about the content of our coaching sessions (because that's all yours).

Nietzsche lamented that "what things are called is unspeakably more important than what they are". We get hung on words, forgetting to remain attentive to what they're purportedly referring to. "Coach" is a case in point - a essentially-unhelpful label for a essentially-helpful person. 

Do you give advice?

I may selectively focus on aspects of your story, reframe your claims, or point out omissions. But giving advice is not the aim of coaching. When I do so, it's always as a suggested theme for discussion only.

Advice is like fish. (You know the cliché, about giving fish versus teaching to fish). The risks of giving directive advice - aside from it being just bad - are that it can reinforce your resistance to it, foreclose the exploration of the bigger picture, limit what we might discover by fully elucidating your story, and miss an opportunity for you to experience revelation and empowerment from finding a solution for yourself. A decision acquires infinitely more commitment if it is yours, not someone else's.  

What DO you give?

I give my full focus to helping you discover your capacity to resolve your dilemma. Coaching is an intense partnership that's collaborative yet empathic towards you and the specificity of your world. 

It's a directive process, although it entirely adapts to you and your way of being. I am experienced in how to enable you to open up, question your habitual and self-defeating thoughts, and experience the freedom of a non-judgemental dialogue. Alone, it's harder to recognise your misapprehensions or to acknowledge your potentials. It helps if someone is alongside, fully present and attuned to the change that can be effected by you. That's the role of a coach.

Do I need a goal?

Keynes said it is "better to be roughly right, than precisely wrong". This is a good maxim for understanding goals. The problem with the term "goal" is that it is implicitly positive - whereas goal's realisation is only good if that goal was compatible with your values and preferences (your "worldview").  

A well-defined yet misjudged goal can reinforce a dissatisfying situation. Perhaps, leading only to the need for a further goal, and again another. Such a treadmill can be a reason some clients seek coaching despite their apparent achievements; maybe a state of comfort in the present eludes them? Schopenhauer (renowned for his pessimism!) said "every satisfaction he attains lays the seeds of some new desire, so that there is no end to the wishes of each individual will".

On the other hand, the recurring pursuit of "some new desire" may be the perfect description of what authentically fulfils you. Or, the pursuit of goals is your preferred way of learning about yourself (in which case, the notion of failing fast might be worth exploring). We differ in our ways of finding meaning or purpose, and goals may suit our particular way. Or not.

Who does the work?

Coaching can be thought of as an act of collaborative emancipation. In the coaching session, it's the both of us who'll do the work - albeit in different ways. Your task is to be free in your thinking and connected to your feelings. Mine is to orchestrate the conditions under which you are able to do so. 

Outside of the session, the work is yours. We all have to choose for ourselves: to decide, to act, to live our life. Part of becoming a person - undergoing the tenuous journey from child to adult - is the acceptance that you are the steward of your destiny. Even though family, society, or systems of unequal power have constrained and shaped you, it's your task to take ownership of your inner and outer worlds - so far as you possibly can. To accept the joys and anxieties that come with the discovery of your freedom and the choices open to you, and to make these yourself and for yourself. 

What's a coach vs. a counsellor?

The distinction between "coach" and "counsellor" is best answered at the level of the practitioner, rather than as a question of semantics. In essence: any given practitioner (1) has competences derived from training and experience, and (2) is bound by an ethical duty to practice only within those competences. 

If a client presents a dilemma or disturbance that is outside a practitioner's competence, the latter is ethically compelled to say so and to refer the client elsewhere. In practice, more "superficial" issues (eg. loss of career direction) might be addressable by a particular practitioner (eg. a coach), whereas deeper issues (eg. depression, anxiety) might not, and should thus be referred to an appropriate other practitioner (eg. a registered counsellor).

(My coaching practice is distinct from my ongoing counselling training. In accord with the requirements of the BACP's Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions, I offer counselling only  within a clinical placement, currently at Face2Face London.)

What's your approach to coaching?

You can read about my approach to coaching, which is an integration of a Person-Centered approach, Motivational Interviewing, and aspects of Existential Therapy

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Photo credit: Elsa Tonkinwise