Coaching is neither consultancy nor psychotherapy. Coaching is also different from mentoring: coach and coachee are always on the same level.
In this professional relationship, the coachee is respected and recognized for his or her specific resources, and is considered perfectly capable of effectively managing his or her own life and job.
The coach puts his or her professional experience at the disposition of the coachee in order to support reaching the concrete objectives (personal and/or professional) of the coachee.
This coaching service is carried out through face-to-face or telephone sessions which can be variable in length and which can involve individuals or teams (team coaching). Sessions take the form of interviews during which the coach asks numerous questions, with the goal of stimulating awareness, responsibility, and the impulse to take action.
The coaching process represents an opportunity to develop the soft skills which promote new behaviors capable of integrating and reinforcing the competencies of the individual.
There are various reasons for which one might turn to coaching as a tool. Some of the most common are: facing professional or personal change, undertaking a new career path, improving interpersonal relationships, conflict resolution, getting back into shape, learning how to say no, seeking the right balance between personal and professional life.
Various professional coaching associations exist, and one of the most distinguished in all the world is the International Coach Federation (ICF). Since its foundation, the ICF has adopted a highly elevated ethical standard for its associated coaches, and has identified 11 key skills which outline a coach’s professional experience and represent a reference point for clients.