Paolo Assandri
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Do you want to carry out a project? Then coaching is for you!

If you have a goal and do not know how to achieve it, if you are afraid that you are not motivated or determined enough to achieve it, if you are afraid of failure, or if, simply, you need to clarify what you want to achieve, coaching might be for you.

What is coaching?

Coaching is a type of short-term motivational intervention. Its purpose is to stimulate people to achieve a goal and to encourage personal growth. In fact, the coach helps coachees find their ways to express themselves freely and effectively to achieve what they want.

Coaching can be employed in different areas: professional (business & executive coaching), personal (life coaching), sports (sports & health coaching), etc. However, the common thread is to help people achieve their goals, by stimulating reflection and action through self-awareness.

Among the goals that can become the focus of a coaching intervention:

  • Changing jobs
  • Improving interpersonal or communication skills
  • Improving assertiveness
  • Increasing self-esteem in a specific area
  • Have a healthier lifestyle (lose weight, exercise regularly, etc.)
  • Improve managerial skills
  • Improve relationships
  • Find strategies for coping with major life changes (new city, new country, new job, etc.)
  • Improving professional, sports or artistic performance
  • Choosing a college or training path
  • Etc, etc.

In some cases, when a person feels confused and unsatisfied and does not know which path to take, the goal of a coaching path might be "simply" to support the setting of a meaningful goal for the person, regardless of its scope.

Generally, coaching paths assume that the client is the "ultimate expert" in his or her own life and that he or she already has many of the resources available to achieve his or her goals. He is simply not aware of this and does not know how to do it.

The main purpose is to help the person increase awareness of himself and what he wants to achieve, in order to channel his energy and resources toward the realization of his projects (whether small or large) and to stimulate his determination and resilience. In addition, in the coaching sessions, a series of "tools" and keys are provided that can also be used independently by the client at the end of the course.

What is NOT coaching?

Coaching should not be confused with psychotherapy. Although both work on helping people bring out their resources, there are cases when coaching is not advisable.

In fact, coaching is not indicated when psychological distress is present, especially if this distress is particularly intense enough to hinder the person's daily activities or interfere with his or her relationships. In addition, coaching is not indicated if symptoms are present that can be traced to a psychological disorder that requires appropriate psychotherapeutic treatment.

Below are some cases in which coaching is not suitable and psychotherapy is needed instead:

  • If a person has been feeling particularly sad for a long time and with no apparent cause
  • If level of anxiety is such that medication is required
  • In case of panic attacks
  • If there is severe psycho-physical distress
  • In case of indications for psychotherapy from a physician or psychotherapist

How does coaching work?

Coaching is a tailoring intervention. In fact, just like a tailor, the coach is able to provide a path "sewn on" to their client. For this very reason, the coach is aware that it is necessary to take into consideration clients' characteristics, needs and attitudes in order to help them   reach their goals.

Sessions take place in a professional setting. Here the client is continually stimulated to reflection, planning and action. This can be done through  questions, creative exercises, visualizations and activities of various kinds, with the goal of bringing out the potential and resources the client possesses but is not aware (or does not know how to use).

The number of sessions is limited; in fact, there are rarely more than 6 to 8 sessions. These sessions begin after an initial interview, which is a particularly important moment. In this interview, in fact, the coach can assess whether a coaching path is suitable or whether the person who is asking for help needs another kind of support. In addition, in the first meeting, the foundation for the subsequent work is laid, particularly through the definition of the goal that the client wants to achieve.

In summary, coaching is a collaborative process n which client and coach work together to build a future that can match the client's needs and demands. In this way, through coaching, clients can make their projects come true.

"Never give up on your dreams, follow the signs."

Paulo Coelho

Author: Paolo Assandri is a Counselling Psychologist (HCPC and British Psychological Association registered), a Psychotherapist (UKCP) and Psychologist-psychotherapist (Ordine degli Psicologi del Piemonte). He is based in London where he lives and works.

No responsibility disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional health or medical/psychological advice or treatment. The article is for general informational purposes only to improve wellbeing. Consult with a licensed health care practitioner (doctor, psychologist or psychotherapist) in case of need. Authors, producers and consultants linked to this article are not responsible for choices nor actions of readers following the read of this article.

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