What is coaching?

Coaching is often misunderstood because the word “coaching” has existed longer than the coaching profession.  Also, because coaching is unregulated, many well-intended folks call themselves “coaches” without actually providing professional coaching! Therefore, many consumers think they’ve experienced the unique power of coaching when they haven’t, or they’re looking for something professional coaching doesn’t provide.

I describe professional coaching as “the facilitation of a client’s self-discovery through provocative questions, insightful observations, and invitation to action.” Professional coaching isn’t like sports coaching. It’s not telling, directing, or instructing. Coaching is not consulting or mentoring. It’s not advising or training.

Professional coaches don’t tell — we ask.  Coaching is based on the notion that the client holds the insight and information they need – the coach simply helps them unlock or access it.

Want to learn more? Read my article All About Coaching! What It Is, What’s It’s Not, and Why It Matters or watch this video!

What’s the difference between coaching and mentoring? Or coaching and consulting?

In both consulting and mentoring, the consultant or mentor is the expert, and holds the power. They use their superior knowledge to provide advice to the client or mentee. In coaching, the power and knowledge lies within the client. You can read more in my article All About Coaching! What It Is, What’s It’s Not, and Why It Matters or watch this video!

Furthermore, I was trained in a rigorous approach that takes the idea of equity between coach and client even further – that the coach can be just as transformed by the coaching relationship as the client! This doesn’t mean that a coaching session with me becomes about you helping me do my personal work!  It means you might notice me disclose personal information or express emotion more than some other coaches.

We may also do more therapeutic or transformational work than you might get with other coaches. This is driven by my gifts, my training as a trauma-informed practitioner, my training in Parts Work (based on Internal Family Systems) and my commitment to lasting change by addressing what’s really under a client’s current problem.

How is coaching done?

Individual coaching is usually done over Zoom, but can also happen on Skype, by phone or in person. Some clients like to do at least one in-person session, and the rest over video. Sessions typically last 45 or 60 minutes, and are scheduled weekly to monthly. It’s all up to you, your goals, and how quickly you want to shift! Most of my clients start out with a session every two weeks unless they want to move quickly. Sometimes we start out with frequent sessions and switch to less frequent over time.

Is coaching like therapy or counseling?

Yes and no! I find that the best therapists are very coach-like, and the best coaching sessions feel like good therapy.  My style of transformative and therapeutic coaching can feel more like therapy than some other coaches’ style. In fact, one client describes my leadership coaching as “work therapy”!

There are two main ways that coaching can differ from psychotherapy:

  1. Coaching is usually focused on the present and future; therapy is often focused on the past. (I tend to delve more into the past than many other coaches, but we don’t stay there.)
  2. Coaching sessions typically end with an exploration of clear next steps and partnered accountability; therapy sessions usually don’t end with action items.

Here’s more detail from Kathy Benham and Susan Fox:

Primary Function: 

  • Therapy creates a context in which healing may take place. Therapy assumes that symptoms or behavioral patterns need to be fixed – that something in the client needs to be healed.
  • Coaching creates a context in which life and performance enhancement may take place (which, to be fair, can be healing!).  Coaching assumes that the client is high functioning and capable of taking consistent action towards realizing their goals.

Time Frame:

  • Therapy tends to work in the past to promote emotional healing or resolve psychological pain, or in the present to reduce symptoms or destructive patterns.
  • Coaching works in the critical gap between the present and the envisioned future.  In coaching, history is viewed as the map that brought the client to the present.

Want to learn more? Read my article We Need a More Permeable, Yet Ethical Barrier Between Coaching and Therapy or watch this video!

Do I have to be free of mental health issues or out of therapy to receive coaching?

Heck no! If that were true, I wouldn’t be able to receive coaching myself! Clients with a mental health diagnosis can benefit from coaching if they demonstrate the ability to make ongoing progress toward their coaching goals while managing symptoms.

If you choose to work with me, I’ll ask whether or not you’re seeing a therapist (or other healing practitioners), and it’s your choice whether or not to disclose. If you like, or if it seems important during our coaching relationship, you can give me written permission to connect with your therapist, but this is voluntary. If you express, or imply, an intent to harm yourself or others, I am required to report this to the proper authorities.

Coaches sometimes refer clients to other professionals for issues that are better suited to a clinical therapeutic relationship – but coaching can be an excellent supplement to coaching!  I also have a style of coaching that can go deeper, and be more therapeutic, than some other coaches’ styles. My training in a somatic (body-focused) modality called The Resilience Toolkit and in Parts Work (based on Internal Family Systems) enables me to do deep, ethical, trauma-informed work if that feels like a fit, or would support our work together.

What do you mean, you’re a certified and credentialed coach?

Susana RinderleI’m a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) and a Professional Certified Coach (PCC). To earn my CPC certificate, I completed 125 hours of training by an Accredited Coach Training Program, was observed and assessed by a mentor coach, passed an exam, and completed over 100 hours of coaching experience. To earn my PCC credential, I had to be mentored, observed, pass another exam and complete 500 coaching hours – this time, overseen by the international coaching accreditation body called the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

The process of certification and credentialing is similar to the way a therapist completes their training, then licensure.  First they earn their Master’s degree, then have to pass an exam and accumulate hours to be licensed. Or how an attorney earns their JD degree, then has to pass the bar.

So, not all coaches are certified, and not all certified coaches are credentialed. Coaching is an unregulated profession, so neither coaching certification nor an ICF credential are required by law to be a coach. You can learn more in this article I wrote: All About Coaching: Certified, Credentialed, or Accredited? Oh My! or watch this video.

However, according to the latest ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study, clients who worked with an ICF credential holder were more likely to be satisfied with their coaching experience and recommend coaching to others, and 85% of coaching clients reported that it was important for coaches to hold a credential.  Discerning clients prefer to work with certified and credentialed coaches because of the training and evaluation requirements, the continuing education requirements, and the fact that we are held to the professional standards of the ICF Code of Ethics.

I completed Leadership that Works’ year-long Coaching for Transformation program in 2014. It was an excellent fit for me, since (at the time), it was the only major coach training program that included diversity, equity, and social change in its curriculum and core values. Between classes, study, mentoring, and practice, I invested about 500 hours in my training alone! I earned my ACC credential in 2016 and obtained the more advanced PCC credential in 2022.

What do you mean, you’re “trauma-informed”?

As a Certified Facilitator of The Resilience Toolkit since 2020, I am a trauma-informed practitioner. “Trauma-informed” means that an approach, modality or program adheres to six key principles outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). The six principles are:

  1. Safety
  2. Trustworthiness & transparency
  3. Peer support
  4. Collaboration & mutuality
  5. Empowerment & choice
  6. Cultural, historical & gender issues

You can learn more about trauma, and how a trauma-informed approach can benefit you even if you don’t have a trauma history, on my trauma-informed coaching website, or on my Resilience Toolkit page.

Can you help me with stress, anxiety and resilience?

Yep! In fact, I’m a Certified Facilitator of The Resilience Toolkit, a body-focused, trauma-informed set of eight practices that can calm the nervous system in under a minute. The practices are informed by 13 different scientific models, including cutting-edge research that is ongoing. They changed my own life when I began practicing them in 2019! I often incorporate Toolkit sessions into coaching (with permission) to help my clients navigate intense stress, anxiety, or emotions during or after our sessions. I’m happy to explore this option with you!

Can I talk about controversial things, like race, sexual orientation, religion and politics?

Absolutely! I’ve coached clients who are BIPOC, white, LGBTQI, gender non-conforming, Republican, social justice warriors, neurodivergent, Mormon, Catholic, New Agers, and atheists.  My clients have ranged in age from 17 to over 70! I coach in both English and Spanish, and I’ve worked with clients in the USA, Mexico, and Europe.

I’ve also coached many clients who choose not to tell me their identities. Whatever you think is important for me to know to build trust and facilitate your growth is welcome, and our sessions are confidential*. As a credentialed coach, I’m held to a professional code of ethics by an international accrediting body who also provides an Ethical Conduct Review Process where people can bring complaints about ethical violations.

**(However, if you express, or imply, an intent to harm yourself or others, I am required to report this to the proper authorities.)

If my company pays, do my boss or HR have a say in my coaching?

No, and also yes. If your organization “sponsors” (pays for) your coaching, they have a right to want a return on their investment, and to request the general outcome they’d like to see. However, you as the client have the ultimate say in what goals or desired outcomes we focus on in your coaching, and what topics you bring to each session. In fact, it would be a violation of professional coaching ethics for me to give your sponsor’s goals and requests priority over yours.

Also, trust, safety, and confidentiality are the foundation of the coaching relationship. Therefore, once the contract is signed, I won’t communicate or meet with your boss or HR without you present (if we meet) or copied (on an email).

You or your organization can read more about this important topic in my article All About Coaching: When Bosses Misunderstand or Misuse Coaching.

What does coaching cost?

Coaches charge a wide range of fees for our services. You can learn more about my packages by clicking the below button, and I’m happy to set up a 30-minute “chemistry call” to see if we’re a fit! If so, I can provide you with my current pricing, and explore a custom package that fits your schedule and budget.

View Coaching Packages

How do I choose a coach that's right for me?

Choosing a coach that’s a good fit is an important decision. “Fit” affects the quality of the work you do with your coach, and any outcomes you gain from that work.  Finding a coach that’s right for you is as critical a decision as finding the right hairdresser or barber for your head—and the effects of coaching are deeper and longer lasting than a haircut!

To help you along, I’ve written an article with some tips to prepare you for our initial “chemistry call” and the decision you’ll make after you’ve interviewed all the coaches you’re considering. Whether we’re a good fit or not, I’m committed to helping you find who’s right for you, right now!

You can read the article here: All About Coaching: “How do I choose a coach that’s right for me?”

How do I get started?

Super easy!  Email me at susana@wordswisdomwellness.com or complete my contact form to schedule a complimentary “chemistry call”. We’ll talk about whether coaching is right for you, answer your questions, and see if we’re a good match. If the chemistry is right, and you decide to move forward, the next steps include signing a written agreement, completing your “discovery questionnaire”, and scheduling your first session. I have systems that allow you to do everything online, and my goal is to make the admin side of coaching smooth for you!

Ready to explore working together?

Contact me now to schedule a complimentary “Chemistry Call.”

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