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“Coach” is a term known to have originated from the Hungarian word “kocsi” which roughly translates to “carriage” in English. The word was first used in the context of instruction or education in Oxford University in 1830 as a slang referring to a tutor who “carries” his student through an exam. While coaching may be more popular in the language of sports, its use in relation to sports only came a year after it was used to mean a guiding figure in an academic setting.
At present, coaching means various things as used in different purposes—and one of them is in the context of life coaching, professional life coaching in particular. Coaching people to help them identify their skills and capabilities, formulate goals, and achieve goals is already a profession that has helped countless people. However, there are those who find it unnecessary and too unregulated to be reliable. Moreover, it is not considered scientific despite the influence of various professional disciplines and fields of study on its development. Coaching, for instance, has taken inputs from personal development, adult education, psychology, leadership theories and practices, sociology, mentoring, career counseling, and NLP.
Those who offer professional coaching services may not have credentials similar to what can be observed in other traditional professions. Designations or formal training do not have significant weight in the coaching practice. There are numerous training schools and programs for life coaches worldwide and they can offer certificates or diplomas upon completion. However, these are not as important as the name and reputation built by a life coach. The practice is sometimes criticized for its lack or very minimal level of regulation or oversight. It is not compulsory in coaching to follow specific policies, procedures, or standards. Coaches have the freedom to determine what structures or methodologies to employ. This leads critics to argue that coaching is similar to psychotherapy sans the restrictions and regulation. Nevertheless, most life coaches adhere to codes of ethics and professional organizations for life coaches also exist to oversee the practice, albeit limitedly.
Professional coaching entails the use of a range of communication skills that may include inquiry or questions and answers, reflection, and discussions. The goal is mainly to facilitate self discovery, to allow a client to know himself or herself better. The ways to achieving personal goals can be more clearly determined with the realization of what one is truly capable of doing. The choices are all given to the one being coached. A coach may provide hints but he or she usually does not give recommendations or suggestions. A coach may somewhat offer guidance but he or she does not lead the way.
Basically, what professional coaching achieves is comparable to what self help allows a person to attain. Coaches serve as guides in the same way self help books offer insights on how to achieve certain goals. The major differences that can be pointed out between professional coaching and self help are the interactivity and the service fees. Interacting with a human to facilitate self evaluation may be helpful for some but those who seek deeper self reflection and a more independent approach to self improvement can turn to the relatively cheap (and some free) self help books. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for individuals to try resolving their issues on their first before seeking the help of other people.
Determining if professional coaching is indeed better than self help is a tricky task. There are different advantages in each that may work differently on different people. However, it is worth noting that both approaches seek to achieve similar goals with self help as the cheaper option. Self help also denotes total control on one’s own empowerment and path to self improvement. It means a customized plan that an individual fully decides for himself or herself. Self help is also the best option for those who want to keep their privacy. It is the best self improvement approach for those who are not comfortable in sharing their secrets and weaknesses with other people. Professional coaches help people but that does not mean self help is less effective. It works and it can be an advantageous first option.
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