The field of Professional/Personal Coaching has seen rapid career growth in the past 20 years. I should know, I am a coach! I was not born into the profession nor did not aspire to be a coach as I selected a major in college. The career path was nonexistent, but evolved, as so many new career choices have emerged due to human need or technology.

A Little History
The roots of coaching can be traced to executive consulting that emerged into executive/coaching in large organizations along with mentoring from the late 1980’s. Then, the “trickle-down effect” occurred as the profession moved from the CEO office to managers and teams where issues beyond business decisions of expansion, reorganization or improving the bottom-line were addressed. People started to address their “personal bottom-line.” The rationale: If professional coaching is beneficial, what about personal coaching. After all, as humans, it is impossible to negate our personal lives for 40 plus hours per week.

What has emerged is a profession that works with individuals to help them achieve results and life-changing behavior in their lives and careers. Professional/personal coaching addresses the whole person, with an emphasis on getting into action and deepening our learning that can lead to more fulfillment, balance, and joy.

Coaching Models
Coaching models can vary. I often say we are like Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors. A prospective client needs to do some homework to see what type of coaching would be most beneficial and ask a coach for a sample session to see if the chemistry feels right. Many coaches have a website, and that’s a good place to start the research. Feel free to ask the coach about their coach training and philosophy.

Some coach training will elevate the coach as “the expert” which is more of a consulting model. Since many coaches have had prior training and experience in various careers, they will build a coaching niche as a sales coach, health coach or like me, a career coach. The co-active coaching training that appealed to me is a coaching relationship where the coach and client are “active collaborators.” The coach-client relationship is a designed alliance between two equals for the purpose of meeting the client’s needs.

Who Hires a Coach?
People come to coaching for a variety of reasons, but the bottom line is change, a change for the better. People desire a change and are feeling stuck, confused, frustrated, overwhelmed or flat. Often they have tried to move forward on their own, with other’s help, self-help books, classes, etc.

Why Does Coaching Work?

SYNERGY: Client and coach become a team, focusing on the client's goals and needs to create momentum. Momentum creates positive energy and a sense of moving forward.

STRUCTURE: With structure comes accountability. A coach will hold the client accountable for goals and action much like a personal trainer. With a coach, the client tends to “show up” in his or her life, think bigger and get going…no kidding.

EXPERTISE: A coach will help people make better decisions, set richer goals, grow personally and professionally and move from point A to point B without wasting time and experiencing “the school of hard knocks.”

Starting With A Coach
Most coaches begin with a special client meeting or intake by phone or in-person. This in an opportunity to meet and see if the coach-client relationship is a match. It is a chance to dialog, ask questions of each other and learn about the coaching process. The coaching process should not be painful to the client.

Frequently, it is recommended to meet or interview a few coaches for comparison. Hire a coach who will help you achieve your goals and grow personally or professionally.

The Coaching Commitment
The coaching commitment is not forever. Most coaches ask for a few months of commitment. An average timeframe is 6 months depending on the client’s agenda and progress. If the coaching is not working for you, most coaches will adjourn the coaching.

Coaching Popularity
I must admit, I did not have a massage until I was 45 years old. Why? I didn’t realize the benefits and was a bit reluctant. I didn’t realize what I was missing! Likewise, people are exploring their career/life options by asking questions like, what’s next; what am I tolerating; what is holding me back; and if not now, when? Many people are tired of waiting for a breeze to lift their sail. They want to create the breeze and get moving.

Coaching is for the curious, the serious, the playful, the resourceful and those who want to reach their fuller potential.

People come to coaching for lots of reasons, but the bottom line is change. - Laura Whitworth, Henry Kimsey-House & Phil Sandahl, from Co-Active Coaching

Author's Bio: 

Barbara Wulf is a certified career/life coach and speaker who helps individuals redesign their career paths by supporting and inspiring them to stretch, seek, and achieve life/work success. She holds a master's degree in counseling, is a global career development facilitator, is certified by The Coaches Training Institute and is an adjunct faculty member at Concordia University, St. Paul, MN. Barbara offers career assessments along with resume/cover letter writing and interviewing strategies for impact. Sign up for her monthly e-zine, OWN IT, WORK IT, LIVE IT at or call 920-725-2930.