Coaching Overview

Interested in learning more about coaching? This is a good place to start. Here, we give you a bird’s eye view of this growing profession. We explore some definitions and introduce you to five of the main coaching disciplines.

Coaching is a nascent field comprised of practitioners from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds. These backgrounds include business consulting, Human Relations (HR) and Organizational Development (OD), sports, education, and philosophy, and psychological disciplines such as industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology, counseling psychology, clinical psychology, and social psychology. Perhaps as a result of the varied backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives coaches bring, there is still a lack of consensus about definitions, methods, and techniques.

What is coaching?  What are the benefits of coaching?  What do you need to know if you are interested in becoming a coach?

Anthony Grant, one of our council of advisors offers an introduction to one perspective on coaching and how it differs from other approaches. He was one of the first to suggest that coaching could be evidence-based like other disciplines and to explore some of the challenges to becoming more professionalized.  To read more on this, please read his PowerPoint presentation, Evidence-based Coaching What, How and Why?

What is Coaching?

There are perhaps as many different definitions of coaching as there are coaches practicing the art. This speaks to the variety and diversity of perspectives pertaining to coaching.

For more on this topic, please also look at the HBR Special Report on coaching.

Becoming a Coach

What are the requirements to becoming a coach?

There are typically no strict education requirements for starting a coaching career. Depending on where you live, you may not even be required to be certified or licensed to begin coaching. 

Benefits of Coaching

The personal benefits of coaching are as wide ranging as the individuals involved. Numerous clients report that coaching positively impacted their careers as well as their lives by helping them to:

Coaching Science

Coaching science is the scientific foundation that underpins the work of all professional coaches. The translation of science into coaching practice is the life force of the Institute of Coaching. The broad and deep scientific foundation includes basic and applied research, theories and models, that support or inform coaching practices. We organized our Coaching Science resources into a few categories:

Coaching Specialties

Individuals specialize in all different types of coaching such as executive leadership, health and wellness, ADHD, performance, education, career, and life coaching.  We have classified our extensive content into five key coaching specialties: Executive and Leadership, Health and Wellness, Internal/Organizational, Positive Psychology, and Life.