After writing my most recent article on coaching, I realized there is some confusion as to what a Life or Business Coach actually does concerning what roles they play in their clients' lives and how they truly work with a client. So I thought a closer look at the roles of a coach might be in order!

Where a coach receives training and certification will most likely provide a unique set of roles. My training done at The Centre in Portland, Oregon, provided me with the following role titles: 1) Clarifier, 2) Reflector, 3) Pathfinder, 4) Gold-miner, and 5) Facilitator.

Understanding these five roles provides the base knowledge for individuals to work more effectively with their coaches, just as it helps those who are wondering if working with a coach is the right course of action.

My own coaching clients receive the following commitment in our coaching agreement: “The purpose of coaching is to clarify your vision and purpose, set goals, and create action plans in alignment with your intentions. We will focus on moving you forward according to your agenda." Notice that I tell clients up front that their forward movement is based purely on their intentions, their vision, and their agenda. There is no mistaking who is in charge and the role I am taking in the partnership. So let’s take a closer look at each of these five roles.

1. Clarifier Taking on the role of clarifier requires the coach to ask questions that enable the client to dig deeper, reframe thoughts and insights the client has just expressed, and mirror or articulate what's going on. Clarity is the building block for supporting the client's agenda and guiding him forward.

2. Reflector When the coach takes on the role of a reflector, he or she paraphrases what the client is expressing to allow for the client to hear possible alternative perspectives of the challenge. Paraphrasing can be accomplished by the coach using metaphors and reframing the client’s thoughts.

3. Pathfinder As a pathfinder a coach works with the client to create a vision for both the client’s long-term and short-term goals. These visions can be created through the use of brainstorming with the client and putting together action steps that are realistic and attainable for the client.

4. Gold-miner Not to be confused with a "gold-digger," the coach’s role as a gold-miner is to provide an environment for safe and non-judgmental self-exploration. The coach then can observe the learning the client is experiencing while also celebrating the success the client experiences.

5. Facilitator As a facilitator the coach observes the learning that is happening and uses appropriate supportive language to allow the client to anchor this growth.

As an individual looking to possibly work with a coach, it is important to know the coach will not inform you when they are stepping into one role or another. There are times where a coach may be or wearing the hat of one or more roles simultaneously. You may be able to tell which hat she's wearing by the types of questions she asks or by what and how she states certain thoughts and perspectives. One of the main elements of a coaching-client partnership is creating a level of trust. As a client you need to trust your coach is stepping into the appropriate role at the appropriate time. You will know this by the level of your success you achieve when working with your coach.


Author's Bio: 

Karen Kleinwort is a certified professional coach who specializes in life, business and health coaching. Kleinwort also holds a BS in Business Management and an AA in Holistic Health & Fitness Promotion; additionally, she is a Reiki Master and CranioSacral Practitioner. Kleinwort is available for interviews and appearances. You can contact her at or (877) 255-0761.