Coaching is often associated with the ‘talking therapies’, but while I agree it does involve talking (and listening) I firmly believe that the fundamental purpose of coaching is about moving forward. That’s an expression that has two distinct parts – 'MOVING' and 'FORWARD' – so it’s useful to unpick those two words.
I firmly believe in self-agency: so helping a client to find their own direction rather than directing them is essential if the client is to be self-sufficient and not reliant long term on their coach. But for all that, the direction has to be FORWARD towards a goal – whether that is physical or mental state, career or relationship, wealth or well-being. Those are the client's choices and the coach's responsibility; it is after all why we are working with the client. Coaching is not in itself about diving deep into a client’s past – that’s within the purview of counselling or psychotherapy – although some exploration of values and beliefs and where they originate may be useful in helping a client to reset their compass and refocus their sights.
The other part of the expression is about movement, and in the coaching relationship there should be a positive power to motivate and energise. As a coach, I love it when, at the end of a session, a client says 'I feel really motivated and ready to get on." Providing a source of energy within a session is important but of course it's not enough to just fire up a client in a session and that's why I often ask my clients (yes, sounds directive I know) to email me the top three things they take away from the session and to three things they will do before the next. Alternatively, I may suggest a client thinks about sending me a draft of something they are working on for me to look through.
It's an accountability cadence – a rhythm that helps sustain the momentum for change. Clients feel more engaged because they know they have committed in writing - and that helps them focus and have a sense of their own commitment to the client-coach relationship. This doesn’t work for all clients and ultimately, it’s the client’s choice as to how they want to work with a coach. It is, however, a valuable way to harness those two powerful words moving + forward.
If you want to know more about my approach to moving forward please check out my profile or visit my website stephenpaulcoaching.co.uk