In the last two decades coaching has been developing as a distinct profession. This article aims to describe the emergence of coaching as a field, how it is being defined and the various areas across which it is practiced.
The word ‘coach’ is derived from a town called ‘Kocs’ in northern Hungary, where horse drawn carriages were made (http://word-origins.com). The word ‘coaching’ comes from early forms of transportation, i.e. stage coach or rail coach and literally means transporting some one from one place to another (Starr, 2008). This tells us that at its very essence, coaching is deeply related to ‘movement’ or more specifically to‘change’.
The terms ‘coach’ and ‘coaching’ have been in use since the 1800s, both as a Oxford University slang for a tutor who ‘carried’ a student through an exam, and in the field of athletics. The emergence of coaching in the 1960s and 1970s (after the Cold War) was related to a humanistic psychology and the Human Potential Movement. This led to the spread of personal development in the private sector, civil rights and feminism; coaching emerged in leadership development programs in the 1980s. In this process it has developed a ‘broad intellectual framework that draws from the synergy, cross-fertilization, and practices of many disciplines’ .
The purpose of coaching is self-directed learning and personal growth of the coachee. In terms of client group, there is consensus that clients should not have clinically significant mental health problems.Emphasis is placed on a systematic process that involves the use of questioning techniques rather than advice giving, to foster an egalitarian and collaborative relationship.
Coaching could be seen as a human development process that involves structured, focused interaction and the use of appropriate strategies, tools and techniques to promote desirable and sustainable change for the benefit of the coachee and potentially for other stakeholders.
It is also worth noting that through its emergence coaching has evolved to be a multi-disciplinary phenomenon in that it is practiced by professionals of various backgrounds, as a consequence it draws from fields such as management, education, social sciences, philosophy and psychology.
Another essential feature of coaching is its multifaceted nature; it is practiced across a multitude of genres, context and niches. The following niches and specializations are occurring within the coaching practice:
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Other applied contexts have also been identified; Cox et al. (2010) have described several genres of coaching that identify the purpose of coaching in their title such as performance coaching, developmental coaching or transformational coaching. Thus modern patterns and practices of coaching appear to be dynamic and contextual and delivered across a continuum of attributes customized to the person being coached, the coach, the context, and the specific situation. Thus coaching is emerging globally within different contexts as a multi-disciplinary and a multi-faceted profession.
At the societal level, more and more people are feeling motivated to develop themselves further or overcome certain life challenges. Coaching as a one on one focused interaction can help individuals work on themselves in a specific and more concentrated way thus ensuring that they can develop themselves in a sustainable manner. Thus more and more people are seeking coaching services and reporting benefits that are manifold, the most important one being ‘maximising their potential’.
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