New to coaching? Start here.
Ok, so you’re new to coaching, haven’t heard much about it or if you did, it didn’t make a ecco – until now 🙂 It’s my mission to help raise awareness around what coaching is and isn’t and how it is perceived at the moment around the world and in Romania (Eastern Europe), my country.

First of all, don’t worry if you don’t know much about it, as you are in the same group as with the rest of 90% of the population. Coaching as a profession (is not yet regulated, but I am sure we will get there) is fairly new – it started to appear only 15 years ago. Many people still argue it’s not even a profession or an industry, but I have many reasons to think that it is, exactly like any other liberal profession out there: counselor, notaries, inginers, architects, doctors, psychologists – and I’ll try to explore all of the reasons below.

Article Contents:

  1. What is a liberal profession? Yes, let’s take that out of our way first.
  2. A little Coaching History
  3. What is Coaching – the ICF’s definition
  4. What does a coach do and doesn’t do?
  5. What happens in a coaching session and/or a coaching process /program?
  6. The Coaching Process – Step by step
  7. How does coaching differ from therapy and other helping professions?
  8. Types of Coaching
  9. When can we engage in a coaching process? How do I know if I need/beneficiate from coaching?
  10. How much does a Coaching program cost?
  11. Final Words – my personal view on Coaching
  12. 3 Sample Master Coaching Sessions with Rich Litvin @Mindvalley


What is a liberal profession? Yes, let’s take that out of our way first.

A liberal profession is an occupation pursued in relation to an ideal of public service and requiring substantial mastery of complex skills in the liberal arts or sciences which cannot be delegated to assistants.

So, it’s basically public service + complex skills in the arts or sciences and can be performed only by the specialist. I would definitely say that coaching checks all of these points at once.

A little History of Coaching

Timothy Gallwey. It is generally accepted that coaching appeared in the 1970s as a continuation of the ideas of the “Human Potential Movement“. The first fundamental publication about coaching was written by Timothy Gallwey and called “The Inner Game of Tennis“, which was published in 1974. Gallwey described the work principles of sport coach with his wards and how these principles can be transferred from sport to other parts of life.

Read an extract of this book in pdf“The Inner Game of Tennis” by Timothy Gallwey

John Whitmore. Whitmore was a professional racing driver, and after completing his sports career – a successful businessman. In 1971 he met with Gallwey and started to study coaching with him and helped in promoting the principles of the “Inner Game”. In 1979, Whitmore popularized the principles of “Inner Game” in England. In the late 1980s, Whitmore developed the model GROW (Goal, Reality, Options, What). In 1992 he published the book “Coaching for Performance“, which became the main manual for coaching. John Whitmore is the main theorist of modern coaching.

Read this book in pdf“Coaching for Performance” by John Whitmore

Since the mid-1990s, coaching has evolved into a separate line and the first international organizations have started to appear: the “Association for Coaching“, the “International Coach Federation“. These organizations have developed training standards for coaches.
The real tipping point in the spread of coaching was probably the mid ’90s when business coaching really took off. IBM was the first large company that made use of coaching, which “took coaching from being a personal development vehicle for individuals to a way of developing people in business.”

What is Coaching – the ICF’s definition

ICF (International Coaching Federation, one of the most renowned and regulators in the industry) is defining coaching as:
#Coaching is a life-changing experience that helps people tap into their potential, unlocking sources of creativity and productivity. In this video, learn how partnering with a professional coach can help you to achieve your personal and professional goals.

What is coaching? ICF Coaching Basics from International Coach Federation on Vimeo.

What does a coach do and doesn’t do?

Maybe some of the most important things to mention here would be that a coach does not need to be an expert in the coachee’s issue. Exactly like a psychotherapist, a coach doesn’t need extensive experience related to the coachee’s problem, as the coach does not look at details and/or content, but at the mindset of the coachee, their language, the beliefs, their inner thought process and helps them broaden their universe by asking open questions, meant to explore their inner world, to challenge their worldview, to pull back the client to have a more holistic view of the situations, to look at it from different angles and overcome blockages.

A coach does not need to have been a Master at Procrastination to help a client overcome procrastination, but he needs to understand the client’s worldview, to empathize with their struggle, to challenge them in the right direction, to look, observe and listen to the client’s language, body language, to help them see the wider context (zoom out from the woods to see the trees) and help them activate the necessary resources (time, courage, support, finance, confidence, analytical thinking, leadership, etc.) to overcome their fears and obstacles and reach their goals.

Furthermore, I’ve summed up below what a coach does and doesn’t – does any of the below surprises you?

What happens in a coaching session and/or a coaching process /program?

Coaching is always connected to a change / overcoming a situation / getting unstuck/ enhancing current skills or getting new ones or building healthier habits for a better life.

Coaching can be done with a client – where the coach has its own practice, with a team member – where a manager applies the coaching approach to solving work related issues (it became a requirement for top leaders and managers to have finished a coaching program nowadays), with a team – where the coach can be an agile coach helping out with the team’s synergy, opening their communication channels and cultivating empathy. Agile Coaching is very common in IT teams within corporations where multicultural environment is present.

Depending on the case, helping the coachee (the person who gets to be coached) can take one or more sessions. For some issues where the coachee doesn’t need to activate many resources or to make deep changes, the results can appear after only one session. For bigger, deeper issues, where the coachee would need to make deeper work (search the answers within) and activate many resources, get new skills/remove bad habits – the coaching will become a process/program.

The Coaching Process – Step by step

A process can be of 4/6 sessions up to 10/12 sessions, with a frequency of 1 per week – that is 1 to 3 months, or more, until the goal has been reached. Coaching is different in many ways from therapy, but is especially different because it’s very short (therapy can take 1 year at least, up to 5 years or more) and it’s goal and performance oriented (therapy goes to the root cause and takes time to heal).

First contact: usually over the phone (as a result of an email and/or recommendation from a client), the potential client and the coach discuss about what is the current situation the client is facing (ex: was promoted to manager and has a hard time with the team), what is their goal (ex: become a leader and inspiration for their team while motivating them), the frequency, the costs, the role and responsibilities of them both; the coach will also check the level of motivation and desire to change of the coachee – a person who is not ready to change cannot be coached. Is like coming to a coach with the desire to start saving some money, but you don’t really want to make real changes in your money/financial department, but instead you expect the coach to miraculously save money for you in your account 🙂

First session: is always about getting to know each other and creating a connection. Also, the larger context of the issue will be discussed and the expectations the coachee has from the coach, but also how will they measure the success at the end, and in between the sessions – the KPIs. Here the coach will also mention that in between sessions there will be, most likely, some exercises to be done.
The first session finishes ideally with a clear goal to which the client is going to work towards and the coach will help him stay on track and keep them accountable. Also, the initial plan is sketched – the steps the client needs to take in order to get/ to become where/what they want.
Also, of course, it can happen that the client doesn’t not know what’s the goal and feels that they’re stuck – and so, setting up a goal can take more than one session.

2nd to 5th/11th session – the client and the coach meet to discuss the progress, the obstacles, which be sure there will be many, as we are hard-wired to resist to change. Creating a new habit which you never had for 30 years can be more daunting than it seems, the same with ditching a habit that doesn’t serve you well, but you still did it for the last ten years (like eating junk food, going to sleep too late, hitting the snooze button 10 times in the morning, always rushing to work, using the smartphone too many hours a day, etc.). In this timeframe, the plan can be changed, re-assessed according to client’s needs, in case they change.

The coach will assist the client through education about how humans behave, how the brain works, what’s a worldview, how we see the world and experience it, how emotions / thoughts and behaviour are connected, what drives us, but also assist them to explore they inner world, get to know themselves better, by answering / going through especially designed exercices/coaching tools/ techniques.

Bringing self awareness to their own thoughts, feelings, behavioural pattern, beliefs and limiting beliefs is the first step that ignites change. Only by becoming clear on where you are and where you want to be, the path to get there becomes obvious. Until then, it’s just something abstract, there somewhere in the back of the head, which seems impossible to achieve.

6th (or the last) session – Provided that the goal was achieved, the last session is about doing an overview of the entire process, the starting point, the steps that were taken and the change that was made in this process, the internal experience of the client, the coaching process and the end results. The last session, comes to full circle, unless while working on the first goal, the client discovered/uncovered another insight that they might want to address or work on, and in this case the coaching process can be restarted.

While this is just a template, to give both parties (coach and coachee) some structure, is not meant to be strictly followed, as every client is different and has different needs/challenges, and the process can be as well interrupted, shortened or paused and then restarted.

We are all different and that is our superpower.

How does coaching differ from therapy and other helping professions?

“Professional coaches know the importance of identifying the characteristics and ethical considerations which differentiate coaching from consulting, therapy, mentoring, counseling, or even friendship and support group membership.

While coaching and therapy share some similarities, psychotherapy often focuses on the impact the past has on the present, on healing psychological dysfunction, and on relieving emotional pain. The therapist is considered to be the expert, the one with answers about what is right for the client.

Coaching focuses on the present and future, the client’s strengths, life purpose and goals, working with clients to create possibilities to enrich their life. Based on the belief that all individuals are whole, capable individuals, coaching assumes the client is expert, able to determine what is best for their lives and the coach works along with them to maximize their personal and professional potentials, to close the gaps to create extraordinary lives.

To learn more about the differences, download ILCT founder Dr. Patrick Williams’ article Borderline: Understanding the relationship between therapy and coaching. “, excerpt from ‘What is coaching’ article, The Institute of Life Coaching training.

Types of Coaching

There are many types of coaching and they all differ based on their purpose. There are 2 big categories, Life and Career/Business Coaching, under which we can find many other subcategories and even niches, like Career coaching for Moms that what to return to work, Entrepreneur Coaching for people who would like to start a business or become a freelancer, etc, serving only one group of people with similar life/career goals.

The 20 niches Infographic from Erickson Coaching International School

When can we engage in a coaching process? How do I know if I need/beneficiate from coaching?

There are a number a benefits that come by hiring a coach like saving time, giving you peace of mind, gaining clarity in your life, empowering to take action and make those dreams a reality, developing new skills and insights about who you are and what you want from life, finding your purpose in life, having a supporter and mentor in your life that is there for you in your toughest moments;

but there are also numerous opportunities when a coach can have a great impact in your life, personally and professionally.

  1. When you are stuck and you need help to find direction
  2. When you are ready to go to the next level – not just better, but grow exponentially.
  3. You take on a new role / a new challenge – be it a management role, a freelancer role, a mom role, a new job, a new country – the transition process can be scary for anyone.
  4. When you are the problem / leadership skills – you realize or you receive this feedback from your team. Nobody wants to hold the team’s growth, so instead you decide to do something about it and broaden your perspectives, become more flexible, more human, connected to your emotions, break bad habits, learn new skills that inspire your team to grow as well.
  5. To save time/ money/overcome potential obstacles and unnecessary stress, especially when jumping in new ventures – coaching accelerates your success, helping you get from point A to B faster than you could on your own – and save you the stress of having to figure it all out on your own.
  6. To increase your confidence levels and get you re-motivated.
  7. To train your brain into a winning mindset . All athletes have coaches to train their bodies, but what really sets sporting champions apart is their winning mindsets.
  8. To understand yourself better and identify the blind spots. One of the keys to unlocking your potential is gaining a clearer understanding of yourself, what makes you tick, and what blind spots might be holding you back. A coach can help you dig deeper into your own psyche and really analyse your strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement.
  9. Coaching is for anyone interested in personal development, getting to know themselves better, overcome fears and blockages, taking on new skills and make lifestyle changes, going through a transition or just to boost their overall well-being.

How much does a Coaching program costs?

The fee system varies from coach to coach:
– Programs : some of them develop programs around a specific topic with a set number of sessions, like for example ‘Coaching for a better expat life – how to make the most out of your new host country’. A program will have a fixed sum and it’ll be paid most probably in advance or in a few installments.
– Bundle up session – they can sell a bundle of 5/6 sessions and the topic is chosen by the client. Usually the bundle is paid upfront or in a 60%-40% after 3 sessions format.
– Pay for every session – this is the most common way of a fee structure when it comes to coaching, especially for beginner coaches.

The costs vary depending on many, many things like coach’s experience (the more experience and results you have, the higher the price), reputation, type of coaching (executive/leadership coaching or business coaching are the most expensive ones), the geographical region (people in Eastern Europe cannot afford a US coach’s fee, so there needs to be a balance according to the local market).

In Europe, for example, a coaching sessions starts around 50 Eur up to 100 Eur, for the coaches that are just starting out, and can rise up to 2-300 Eur for the more experienced ones, but also exceed 1-3,000 Eur per session for the best coaches with the highest reputation on the market.

As a rule of thumb, coaching will always be more expensive than therapy, as it is a short term commitment which will bring immediate results, compared to therapy, where a long term investment in needed and so, automatically, the price per session will be lower, though is Western Europe, a therapy session can cost somewhere between 70-150 Eur as well.

Final Words – my personal view on Coaching

Last, but not least, I think a Coach should have a natural calling for helping people (and not be in the profession for the money), have a solution oriented approach, be genuinely interested in helping other people, be intuitive and empathetic, hold a safe space for the client to manifest its own thoughts, feelings and behavior, be non-judgemental and make no labelling, trust that we are all OK (we do not need to be fixed) and we have all that we need inside of us already – we just need to be reminded of it and helped to activate them, be inspirational, motivational and a good leader.

A good coach is someone you know you can trust, creates a relationship with you based on confidentiality, trust, gives feedback and feedforward, does not hold any negative feelings towards the clients, does not set some expectations, creates pressure or stress to the client, and most of all, does not create a co-dependency relationship with the client.

The ultimate goal of coaching is to have clients able to coach themselves out of the situations their in and coach themselves into the emotional and physical resources that they need.

3 Sample Master Coaching Sessions with Rich Litvin @Mindvalley

Lastly, I leave below a sample of deep three coaching sessions where Rich is able to hold the space (silence, safety, acceptance) for his clients, so they can have their own realizations. An insight, a glimpse of who we can become can be enough to change our world forever and take us to the next level.

Rich is paying attention very carefully to his coachees, to their emotional state, to their language and body language, he is establishing rapport at all times with them, questions them, challenges them, makes a few observations and then he creates the space for them to put them all together and connect the dots. He is indeed a Master Coach (the type of coach that would definitely cost thousands per session) and one of my favourite coaches that I follow.

The coaching sessions start at minutes 35 and 47, if you want to skip the intro.

An image is worth 1,000 words, but a video is everything. No amount of words on a page or article can describe as accurately as this video and these 3 coaching sessions can. Powerful coaching transform lives. Forever.