what to expect from a coaching session

Getting started with something new can be intimidating, especially when you don’t have any idea what to expect. Let me put your mind at ease!

(There’s also an infographic at the bottom if you prefer the short version)

Here are answers to the 7 questions I hear most often:

1 – What will we actually do on a coaching call?

At it’s simplest – we’ll talk in detail about whatever is on your mind.

If it’s your very first call, we’ll spend most of the time discussing what your goals are and how to achieve them. Coaching is a collaborative process, but this is all about you – we’ll design a plan that is tailored to set you up for success. You’ll end that call with some action items to get you started on your journey.

From the second session onward, we’ll usually check-in on the actions from our previous call. This helps us assess what’s working and where we might want to take the discussion next. It’s also great for people who thrive with a bit of external accountability!

The topics for each session are completely up to you and the majority of our time will be spent exploring your chosen area of focus. There are various tools or exercises we can use to provide extra insight, but in sometimes simply diving deep on a topic can have the most impact.

Again, you’ll end each session with bite-sized actions that will help move you toward your goals.

2 – How will we decide what to talk about?

This is really up to you.

Some clients come into a coaching program with laser-focus on a specific goal, so each session is tackling topics related back to that theme. Other times the experience is more about exploration and addressing the most pressing matter on the client’s mind at each session.

There are no good or bad topics, but if you have something on your mind before jumping on the call it can help us to get right to it.

That said, some days it’s tough to come into your coaching call with a plan. That’s totally ok too! In those cases we’ll work together to figure it out.

3 – How is coaching different from therapy, mentorship or training?

There can be a bit of overlap between these relationships, but this is how I distinguish between them:

  • therapy is often focused on healing or diagnosis, and generally reflects on the past
  • mentoring is career guidance from someone who is farther along in your desired profession
  • training is focused on conveying new information or developing knowledge, skills and abilities
  • consulting aims to provide a solution, often leveraging data-driven analyses for objective assessments

Coaching is forward-looking. It’s driven by discussion between a coach and client where both parties are on equal terms. Unlike the other professional relationships mentioned above, the coach does not position themselves as the “expert” or present a solution.

You bring a topic to explore and coaches ask questions, help set follow-up actions and provide accountability. It is a partnership focused on finding clarity and maximizing your (limitless!) potential. Typically the key insights come from the clients themselves, coaching just provides the framework for discovery.

4 – How often will we meet?

This also depends on your preferences.

Some clients like to arrange sessions every week, but others prefer to spread things out so there is more time to apply the action items between calls. Things like the urgency of your goals or the style of feedback and accountability that helps you do your best work can also be factors.

Every-other-week is a good starting place for most people, so if I were to make a general recommendation it would probably be to start there.

Like everything else that shapes your coaching experience, this is something we would discuss on your initial call and can be adjusted at any time after.

5 – Are coaching sessions confidential?

Yes. Safety and trust are key elements of the coaching relationship. Respecting any information that you share and handling it confidentially is important to me.

If your coaching is being sponsored by an employer or other third party, the agenda and contents of our sessions remain yours. Unless you have given express permission, I would not share anything that we discussed on a coaching call with them.

Additionally, as a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF), I follow their Code of Ethics, which includes detailed guidance on the handling of confidential information.

6 – What are the benefits of coaching?

Oh, there are so many!

Personally, I’ve found it to be extremely helpful when I’m trying to come to a decision or clarify my thoughts on something that’s going on in my life. There’s some self-directed work that I also find valuable, but nothing as powerful as the dialogue I’ve had in a coaching session. Maybe it’s the impact of hearing yourself say exactly the thing you needed to hear? It’s very empowering.

I love a bit of data, so here are a few numbers from a global survey conducted by the ICF:

  • 80% saw a positive impact on their self-confidence
  • 73% reported a that coaching improved their relationships
  • 70% felt it positively affected their work performance
  • 67% said that it helped with work/life balance
  • 96% would repeat their coaching experience if faced with the same circumstances again

A google search on the benefits of coaching would surely bring you more perspectives, including first-hand accounts.

As with many things, I believe you get out of coaching what you put into it. If you come with an open mind and take steps to apply what you learn in each session it has the potential to change your life.

7 – This sounds like a great fit for someone in my life, can I sign them up to be coached?

Yes, it is possible to sponsor someone else’s coaching but that person must choose to take part in the experience. It has to be something they want to do for themselves.

If they’re open to the idea but want more information, this could be a great opportunity to discuss whether coaching would be a good fit on a free 30-minute strategy call.

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