blue pencil logo

Frequently-Asked Questions about Coaching

coaching questions

Please click on a question below to find answers to our most frequently-asked questions about coaching.

What is professional coaching?

Professional coaching is a development process that enables clients to build their capabilities so that they can achieve their personal, professional, and organizational goals. Coaches partner with their clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires clients to maximize their personal and professional potential.

Coaching is a series of interactions between coach and client, based upon mutual trust and respect, that helps clients produce extraordinary results in their lives, careers, businesses, and organizations. It is an ongoing professional relationship between coach and client that includes questioning, observation, and feedback. Coaching concentrates on creating clarity in the client’s goals and aspirations and providing greater focus and awareness of choice. Through coaching, clients deepen their self-awareness, improve their performance, and enhance their quality of life.

Why is professional coaching becoming so popular?

Professional coaching has become so popular (there are an estimated 30,000 coaches worldwide) because there is consumer demand for it. There are many reasons for this. First, more and more people want a coach's structure, support and wisdom to help them to be successful. Second, career professionals are becoming more creative, excited, and goal-oriented about their lives. They want to do more, be more, and get more. A coach is seen as a partner in this process. Third, time has become a valuable commodity. Professional coaches are in a position to help their clients identify and articulate what they want and get what they want faster.

Is coaching a regulated profession?

No. Coaching is currently neither regulated nor licensed. It is therefore important to check references and professional credentials before committing to work with a professional coach.

How long does a professional coaching relationship usually last?

That depends upon the client’s goals and the perceived effectiveness of the coaching relationship in pursuit of those goals. However, a coaching engagement typically lasts a minimum of two or three months and a maximum of two years. Clients can always shorten or lengthen a coaching engagement as needed. They can also schedule individual check-in sessions and follow-up coaching engagements after an initial coaching engagement.

What does a typical professional coaching session look like?

Each coaching relationship is customized to honor each client’s particular passion, goals, purpose, and learning style. The typical coaching engagement calls for weekly or bi-weekly coaching sessions that last one hour. The sessions can be conducted in person, on the telephone, or using Skype. The client brings the agenda to the coaching session and the coach clarifies and focuses the session through the use of carefully crafted questions, assessment tools, and feedback. The client retains responsibility for the results that are sought and typically requests accountability from the coach for actions to be taken between meetings.

Is professional coaching a form of professional consulting?

No. The easiest way to distinguish coaching from consulting is that coaching focuses on asking powerful questions, while consulting focuses on identifying problems and providing answers. Coaching and consulting can overlap, but they are not synonymous. Consultants typically have training and experience in the client’s area of business. Coaches may have that same training and experience or they may not have had a background in the client’s business at all. The consultant’s expertise is in assessing, diagnosing, and solving problems in specific areas. The coach’s expertise is in building clients' capabilities, deepening their self-awareness, and supporting them to levels of higher performance and greater fulfillment.

Is professional coaching a form of therapy?

No. Coaching and therapy are unique professions requiring different training and unique skill sets. Therapy often focuses on exploring the origins of current personal issues and challenges, often trying to understand the past to resolve current problems. It can focus on healing older wounds that may be influencing the present. It is effective for clients who are managing depression, anxiety, neurosis, or addictions. Therapists are experts in medical and behavioral sciences trained to treat these and other diagnosable conditions.

Coaching begins with the present and focuses on moving the client forward. It is suited to clients who are specifically looking to work through a set of circumstances that has left them derailed, disempowered, and/or in search of clarity and confidence in decision making. It is also suitable for clients who wish to clarify and articulate their purpose and vision and work with a coach to achieve it through positive action. Coaching is therefore action-oriented and results-focused.

Therapy often seeks to remedy what’s not working. Coaching develops possibilities by leveraging the client’s strengths. Coaching and therapy can serve as complementary disciplines in the interests of enhancing a client’s performance and quality of life.

Is professional coaching a form of mentoring?

No. A mentor is a more experienced individual, usually inside the same or a similar organization, who may have a similar technical background to a protégée (although that is not always a requirement). Mentors’ primary responsibility is usually to their organization. Their primary means of intervention is to share their own experiences, either at a task or political level. Coaches, on the other hand, are more often than not external to the organization. Coaching is a learning technique that involves observing an individual at work and providing feedback to enhance performance, build on strengths, and/or to identify and correct deficiencies. Coaching's primary emphasis is on maximizing people's potential by working on their perceptions, self-confidence and creative drive. It is a co-created relationship that focuses on improving skills, knowledge and techniques.

Download our coach vs. mentor comparison

How do I know if professional coaching is right for me?

You would be an excellent candidate for professional coaching if most or all of the following statements resonate with you:
  • I am highly committed to my personal development.
  • I want to live a fulfilling, purposeful and balanced life and believe this is possible.
  • I am willing to think beyond my own assumptions and challenge myself.
  • I am willing to experiment with new concepts or different ways of doing things.
  • I can be truthful with myself.
  • I can ask directly for what I want and need from the coach and this process.
  • I have the funds to pay for coaching and see coaching as a valuable investment.
  • Most often, I live my life true to my values.
  • I am able to work outside of my comfort zone.
  • I am accountable for the results I produce in my life.
  • I have people in my life who are committed to my success.




Copyright © 2017 by Blue Pencil Institute, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Blue Pencil Institute, LLC, Fairfax, Virginia. This website contains downloadable materials and links to external sites. Blue Pencil Institute is not responsible for, and has no control over, the content of external sites. You understand that Blue Pencil Institute cannot and does not guarantee or warrant that files or software of any kind, or from any source, available for downloading through this website, will be free of infection or viruses, worms, Trojan Horses, or other code or defects that manifest contaminating or destructive properties. Powered by Maxmedia Studios