Apr 11, 2023 | Podcast, Your Business

The History of Coaching

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About the episode:

I’m recording this episode on one of my off weeks – usually the last week of the month where I take a break from client calls to focus on business strategy, take a vacation, or to just prioritize some self-care. This week particularly, I want to address some requests that I’ve had for the show, which are to record more solo episodes! So, in this episode of the Prosperous Empath, I thought I would dive into the historical perspective on the life coaching industry, when (and why) to hire a coach, what the life coaching experience is all about, and explore some of the distinctions between coaching and some of the other support modalities. I’m also going to answer some frequently asked questions and share the answers to questions that I notice people who are new to coaching don’t necessarily know to ask but literally make all the difference. I can’t wait to hear your favorite takeaways!

Topics discussed:

  • The different ways in which Catherine spends her off week each month 
  • The origins of life coaching back to the 1980s and what coaching looked like early on 
  • How The International Coaching Federation trains and credentials coaches through it’s coaching core competencies
  • Key things to look for if you are interested in becoming a coach, regardless of your niche  
  • Why coaching at its core is a thought partnership, what support can look like, and how to make it most effective 
  • Knowing when it is time to consider hiring a coach and how to find the right one for you who will meet you where you’re at
  • The hype around possibility and how what you think is possible for yourself will affect your growth 
  • How your history and/or trauma will impact your coaching experience 
  • The similarities and differences between coaching, consulting, and therapy







Click here for a raw, unedited transcript of this episode


Catherine A. Wood  00:01

Hello, hello, and welcome back to another episode of the prosperous Empath podcast. I am recording today’s episode at the end of March. It’s actually a really blustery day here in Boston, which I love. And this is an off week from client calls for me which, if you listen to my episode on business boundaries, where I talk about my ideal schedule, you may remember that I work with clients the first three weeks of each month. And the fourth week is an off week from client calls, it’s really an opportunity for them as much as for me to take the learnings, the insights, that we’re gaining the new highs, and to implement them into the fabric of our lives and businesses. So this week looks different for me every month, which is fun, and one of the reasons I love being an entrepreneur is kind of the novelty. But it looks a little different. So sometimes I might be on a vacation this week, sometimes I’m diving into strategic planning for the firm or growing our team or next creative endeavors. And this week, it’s just been looking like a lot of self care, catching up on appointments for me for my dogs, and envisioning some of these next episodes of the podcast, I have been receiving a lot of requests lately for more solo episodes. So I took that to heart, thank you for the feedback. And I’ve really been sitting with what are the conversations that I’m in, in my work with clients in my everyday life in the business that I thought would be really helpful and really supportive for you. And there’s one conversation that I’ve been having a lot perhaps more than I’ve been having any other conversation this month, and it’s been with people who are brand new to coaching or interested in hiring their next coach. So, in today’s episode, we’re really gonna dive into a historical perspective on the life coaching industry, what it is, when to hire a coach, why to hire a coach, what this life coaching experience is all about, as well as explore some of the distinctions between coaching and some of the other support modalities, like consulting and therapy. I’m also going to answer some frequently asked questions, some that I frequently receive, and some that I noticed people who are new to coaching, don’t necessarily know to ask, but I think are what makes coaching so magical and really helps clients create some really profound results in their life. So we’re going to dive into that.


With that, let’s kick it off from the top. So let’s talk about the origins of life coaching. I think this is really fascinating. So the origins of life coaching actually started here in the United States, and it started in the early 1980s. And it stemmed in the boardroom. So to this day, many business executives, many Fortune 500 and fortune 100 leaders, they have business coaches, or they have executive or leadership coaches. And the life coaching industry was really born from this need for supporting all supporting everyone to reach their potential, and really step into the full expression of themselves and their dreams, in their careers and in every other aspect and area of life. One of the key leaders in the founding of the life coaching movement was Thomas Leonard and Thomas Leonard was actually a an American financial planner. And in working with his clients, he observed that while his clients were well and emotionally stable and found his tips and business acumen really supportive, that they were wanting more, they were wanting more support in reaching their potential. And speaking from personal experience, I imagined they were also wanting more support in implementing and taking someone else’s advice and tips and actually being held accountable to following through because I think that’s a huge benefit of working with a coach. And so, through identifying that need for more support, he was one of the leaders in not only the birth of the life coaching industry, he was also one of the first trainers he he created one of the or he was part of The team that created one of the first coach training programs, which was coach you. And then he also was very formative in bringing to life, the international coaching Federation, which was started in 1995, as a nonprofit, to really support coaches and to help grow the profession. So we’re going to dig into each of those. But I want to start with the international coaching Federation, because the life coaching industry, it’s a really interesting, just interesting industry because anyone can call themselves a coach. It is an unregulated industry. So anyone can call themselves a coach and many people do. But the international coaching Federation, is the most reputable and most well known international entity that oversees that supervises the certification and the credentialing of coaches worldwide. So it not only certifies the coach training programs that train and certify coaches, but it also credentials coaches, and it has three different levels at which through which it credentials coaches. So I’m going to dig into each of those. So first, the coach training programs. So there are hundreds, if not 1000s, of Coach Training entities and organizations around the world that train coaches in all modalities of coaching, whether it’s leadership coaching, business coaching, team coaching, trauma informed coaching, somatic coaching, Ontological Coaching, there’s just so many forms of coaching. And regardless of the modality or the style of your coach training, the international coaching Federation, accredits coach training programs. And these coach training programs have to apply and meet a series of training requirements in order to become accredited through the international coaching Federation. So once these coaches successfully graduate from these coach training programs, and with their certificates, they can apply for a credential through the international coaching Federation. So there are three credentials that you can apply for through the international coaching Federation. There’s the associate certified coach, the professional certified coach, and the master certified coach. So each of these levels requires a distinct number of hours of coach training, education, as well as a distinct numbers, a number of hours of client coaching experience, ranging from 100 hours of coaching clients for the associate certified coach to 500 hours of experience coaching clients for the professional certified coach to 2500 hours of coaching clients to apply for the master certified coach credential. So these are some really high high bars to be able to apply for these credentials. And then in addition to meeting the requirements, you also have to record coaching conversations with clients. And then you your your recorded coaching calls are observed and rated by mentor coaches in order to identify whether you’re meeting specific core competencies for coaching, which, you know, at the FE associate professional and master certified levels, you have to reach successively higher levels, higher grades for each of these core competencies. And these core competencies have been revamped recently but some of them include planning and goal setting with your clients establishing trust and intimacy. A coaching presents powerful questioning let’s see what else managing accountability and progress building new awarenesses so these are some of the main coaching core competencies and I think it’s just really valuable to denote that there’s a lot that goes into becoming a credentialed coach. Also want to touch briefly on if you’re interested in becoming a coach. I think that there are some key things to look for. So There are, as I mentioned, there are so many coach training programs. And you really need to have a sense of what you’re looking for and what you’re hoping to use your skill set to build in business. But regardless of the niche that you hope to develop in your business, I think that there are some really key aspects of a good coach training program that you should look for. And I am speaking from personal experience, because I graduated from accomplishment coaching, which I am a huge advocate and supporter of. And they had a three time three pronged approach to their coach training program. So the first problem was that they trained you to become a coach. The second problem was that you were assigned a mentor coach who you coached with one on one every week for the duration of the program. And I think this was an invaluable aspect of the program, because you cannot be an effective coach in the marketplace. If you haven’t experienced your own personal transformation, and growth through working with your own coach. I mean, I’m a huge advocate for all coaches having coaches, which I’ll come back to later in this episode. But from the coaching lens, if I haven’t had my own breakthroughs, and done my own work, I’m not going to be able to discern or reflect those same opportunities for my clients. So said another way, if I haven’t had a breakthrough in, in confidence, or in managing overwhelm, or in learning how to trust myself and be consistent, if I haven’t experienced my own growth in those areas, I’m not going to be able to reflect those opportunities to clients, because I haven’t discerned them within myself, what we see in ourselves, we’re able to see and reflect in others. So that’s why, from a coach training perspective, I’m always an advocate for coaches continuing to do their own internal work, because the to the degree that we do is to the degree to which we’ll be able to support clients in generating results, and an experiencing the transformation that coaching is so powerful in creating. And then the third prong to the three pronged approach is that they also support clients or their coaches in developing their businesses. And I think that’s one of the hugest areas of opportunity for for new coaches, but also any business owner is that there’s so much mindset work that you have to break through. In order to grow your business, you have to learn how to price yourself and to own your value and to talk confidently about what you do and the results that you help your clients generate. And I think that that’s one of the surprises of entrepreneurship is that we don’t understand necessarily just how much inner work how much mindset work there is to do in order to grow a successful business. So I think a really effective coach training program also supports their coaches in the development of their business and in jumpstarting some of that mindset work in that transformation. So, as I mentioned, the name of the coach training program that I graduated from and used to train coaches with is called accomplishment coaching. Some of the other coach training programs that I have known people to successfully graduate from and to thrive, thrive in business from our coach you which is actually where Thomas Leonard formed the first coach training program, as well as AIPAC and CTI are the coach training institute. I personally have had my eye on the Strozzi Institute, which is in California, which does a lot of somatic coaching. And there’s just so many more.

Catherine A. Wood  00:00

All right, so now that we have explored the origins of the coaching industry, and why I’m such an advocate for becoming certified as a coach and credential through the international coaching Federation, let’s jump into the heart of this episode, which is really about what it is like what coaching is all about. So let’s just start with the basics. What is it? For me, coaching is a partnership between a coach and a client, though the, the term I always like to use to describe it is that coaching is a thought partnership. It supports the client and continually accessing a deeper understanding of who they are of what they want, what’s in the way and how they’re getting in their own way. The coaching process supports the client in taking action, and being held accountable to living their life in alignment with that additional clarity. A coach leverages the power of asking compelling, and thought provoking questions that helps the client gain consistently more access to their own self knowing the coach again, essentially serves as a thought partner to mirror and reflect back what the client is saying, in a way that calls the client forward to take a different approach to take a different response or to take a different action. Now, as a former economist, I typically tend to think in formulas. And one of the foundational ones in coaching is that an Insight Plus an action equals a result. But a new insight, plus new action equals new results. So the fundamental process of coaching is really revolving around supporting you and continually gaining new insights around how you’re getting in your own way around what the next action is in alignment with what you want, and then supporting you in implementing those insights into your learning into your life by taking new actions in order to create new outcomes. So the process of coaching supports a client again in continually gaining new insights and awarenesses for themselves, both on and off coaching calls, and then creating the practices in partnership with their coach to help integrate those new AHA those learnings and awarenesses into the fabric of their lives. And doing so coaching is truly a transformational approach to growth and change, extending far beyond the bounds of what initially draws someone to coaching. One of the reasons coaching can become so effective is because it consistently empowers the client, through helping them gain clarity and direction about what they want. When we become more committed to what we want, rather than all the excuses. Dramas du jour and problems around why we don’t, can’t, shouldn’t or are not capable of having it. That’s just often where and when the path forward begins to illuminate itself. And one of the things that I really appreciate about the coaching process is that your coach doesn’t tell you what to do. Your coach doesn’t pretend to be the expert of their clients, a coach helps clients gain access to their own natural intuition and their inner knowing. And when we see for ourselves how we’re getting in our own way, when we have an insight for ourselves or an aha, around how we are sabotaging what we want, we’re just so much more likely to take a different action. You know, people give us advice left and right in life, right? Every day, we get solicited or unsolicited advice from people and we’re just so practiced in, like, leave it right and in, in leaving it or taking it. But when we see for ourselves how we’re getting in our own way, we are truly just that much more likely to take a different response. Naturally, the effects of coaching impact the client, far beyond the bounds of the coaching relationship. It’s truly a transformational process that will impact who your being and how you’re showing up in your life in every area of life for the rest of your life. So for me, that’s what coaching is. So let’s see, what’s the next question. So the next question I get asked often is, when should I consider hiring a coach? So my response to this is, I just want to start with a quote because it’s one of my favorite quotes to consider when exploring the coaching process, but it’s super applicable to when to hire a coach. So one of my favorite quotes about change. I’ve read it here before it comes from Dr. Michael Beckwith, who says, the pain pushes until the Vision Pulse. So you may consider hiring coach when typically when your result have to change. And a coach can certainly support you in developing that sense of resolve as well. But typically, we can come to that place of resolve from one of two places, either from getting super inspired by a future vision that we see for ourselves. And we feel compelled to change compelled to take a different action to take a different response. Oftentimes, hiring a coach can provide that momentum to commit fully to change. But we can also commit to change when when when we just get so fed up by the status quo we get. So sick of staying where we are, we get so pushed forward by that pain, that fear, that experience of stuckness that we just feel called to do something different. So more specifically, coaching can be supportive in times of transition in times of evolution, growth, change, and, and scaling of your business or your career as well as in your life, your well being and your relationships. Some of the specific areas of coaching that myself and members on the coaching team have supported clients in achieving is in launching or scaling a business in overcoming money blocks, so you can charge more for your services and price yourself competitively in the marketplace, when you’re vying for a promotion and wanting to improve your executive presence or your confidence, or your self leadership, when you are changing jobs careers, or you just want to do so coaching can be super helpful when you are committed to getting off the hamster wheel of the achievement epidemic that so many of us live in and you’re really desiring more peace and a sense of fulfillment from a different source. Coaching can be helpful when you are committed to growing your confidence and overcoming impostor syndrome. Or when you’re wanting to be in a romantic relationship, and you’re seeing that you need to be come more emotionally available and make some changes. And then finally, coaching can be super helpful when you’re ready to commit to your health and create a sense of work life balance that you can live with. So basically, coaching is very multidisciplinary, I think this is a helpful place to just talk about the marketing of coaches. So you know, coaching is one of the fastest growing industries in today’s marketplace. And I think that that’s really relevant here. Because these days, you hear about so many different types of coaches, right? We hear about sex coaches and life coaches and leadership coaches and executive coaches and business coaches and financial coaches and health coaches, and gosh, money coaches and sales coaches, there’s so many types of coaches. But at the heart of it, if you are exploring or working with a coach, and they are a trained and certified coach, they have perhaps the experience or the certification or the credentialing behind them. The word before coach is typically a marketing strategy. It speaks to the types of individuals coaches want to work with the types of conversations coaching want to be the types of coaching conversations that we want to be in, or the areas and topics that we enjoy having with clients. So I typically, I mean, I call myself an executive life and leadership coach or an executive life and business coach, because I love to work with established professionals in their career, who were either in leadership roles or either starting their own business or scaling their businesses, because those are just the most enjoyable conversations I find myself wanting to be in these days. So I think that that’s just a really helpful piece to keep in mind is that, you know, when you find someone that you feel like you can naturally trust and have a heartfelt conversation with, then you’ve likely found a great coach for you. And if they have the shared area of interest, or the coach training behind them then all the better. So now next I want to talk about a question that I think most people who are new to coaching and perhaps don’t necessarily understand or see why it may be valuable. But for me, this is really the, the the soul of what coaching is all about, and why coaching can be so effective, and helping folks achieve change and often achieve significant change in their lives and businesses. So the question is, the topic is really about possibility. And what’s all this hype about possibility? In my experience, possibility, it’s at the core of what coaching is all about. So Webster’s Dictionary defines possibility as the state or fact of being likely or possible. So essentially, if we don’t believe something is possible for us, we will not take the sufficient action towards realizing that goal. Right? It makes it makes sense, right? Why would we start our own business if we didn’t believe it would be successful or double your rates? If you didn’t believe that you could sell those packages at those rates? Or why would you apply for your supervisors role? After she’s announced? She’s She’s leaving, if you didn’t believe you are capable of supervising well? And lastly, why would you open your heart and be emotionally available when you date, if you didn’t believe that finding love was possible for you. In my experience, possibility, it’s the magic of coaching because as coaches, we can help our clients deepen your felt sense of what is possible for you, it expands the bounds of what you believe you can accomplish, achieve declare, actualize manifest and call into your life, your relationship to what you believe is possible. It grows and elevates, and it transforms over time. And as it does, as what we want, we come to believe is more possible for us, we naturally become more comfortable taking risks and leaning into our growth edge, you also naturally become less impacted by detours and bumps along the way. And you start to recognize that these bumps and detours are temporary, and they don’t mean anything about you or your possibility. The more we become committed to being and doing what it takes to achieve our goals, the more naturally we are willing, willing to be and do what it takes, but also believe that our goals are possible. And as we believe our goals are possible. That is truly what creates the the willingness to have that self belief and set ourselves up for success and naturally achieve what we want. I hope that makes sense. I am such a huge advocate about talking about possibility. Because I think that our willingness to hold possibility or willingness to hold our dreams, talk about our dreams, share our dreams is such a key ingredient in aligning our mindset with our inspired action and creating the energy and the forward momentum to fulfill on what we want. Okay, so next question, how is coaching different from consulting in therapy. So, I connect with lots of people who have worked with a therapist and are interested in either adding coaching to their self care and support routine, or perhaps they’ve reached a place in their life where they’ve healed some pain or trauma from the past. And they’re really interested in moving forward powerfully with clarity and direction and partnership. So for me, there’s a couple of areas that I think are key qualifiers of how some of these how the sport professions are different. So first, is the timeframe. Coaching is a present to future based conversation, continually looking at what do you want? Where would you like to be in the future that you’re envisioning for yourself versus where you are in the present moment. And we coach to the gap between that future vision versus where you are right now. Now, while we may pull on experiences or moments from the past, it is only so as to provide clarity around how we’re getting in our own way in the present. We’re not healing or fixing those experiences from our past, only so as to discern how and why we’re being the way we’re being The present, and really looking at how we can lean into new ways of being and take on new practices in the present. Whereas in therapy, that therapy is often a present to past based conversation, really looking at what is there to heal, what is there to forgive? What is there to let go of from your past, that’s getting in the way of relating to yourself as whole, complete and perfect in the present moment. And coaching, we really start with that baseline that who you are today is absolutely perfect, there is nothing wrong or broken about who you are, there’s simply a gap between where you’d like to be versus where you are. And I have found consistently, that when we can start with a baseline that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong about who you are, it oftentimes creates just an incredibly more empowering platform, to change, to grow, and to lean into new ways of being and doing in life. Similarly, consulting also hangs out in that present to future based conversation, really looking at what do you want, and how can I help you get there. But you’re oftentimes defaulting to the consultant, as the one with the expertise, or the solutions, or the one who is going to lead you forward. And that is very different from coaching, and coaching, were really supporting you, the client and helping you continually gain access to that self trust muscle, to your intuition to your inner knowing. After working with hundreds of entrepreneurs, I am so clear that there is no single right way to succeed in business. But when we truly give ourselves permission to be the fully self expressed fully self embodied version of ourselves, that’s where we find our own aligned, conscious, empowered way of being and thriving and showing up in our business. So in coaching, there’s, there’s no hierarchy, your coach and your client are equal partners, the role of your coach is to serve as that mirror to really reflect back to you who you’re being in a way that helps you naturally gain more access to what you already know to be true about yourself, and then support you and holding you accountable in taking that inspired action forward. Whereas in therapy, for some actually go back to consulting. So in consulting, you’re typically deferring to the wisdom and the expertise and the support of the consultant. And in therapy to to some degree, I have worked with multiple therapists over the years. And what I noticed is that still, to some degree, I think that there’s this experience of relying on or trusting the therapists expert in knowledge or experience, or wisdom, or professional acumen that is a little different from from coaching. Now, that’s not exclusively true, I think that there are many modalities of therapy, and some are more similar to the coaching approach. But I do think that there is that slight hierarchical dynamic that an effective coach will really support you in removing from the space and really reinforcing that they’re your partner, that they’re your mirror that, you know, if you’re getting in the, if you’re getting in the car, and you’re setting in the GPS, where you’re headed, the role of the coach is to sit in the passenger seat, and to support you in continually gaining more clarity around your path forward, and how to partner around the detours and the obstacles and the roadblocks along the way. And the last, the last question I want to cover in today’s episode is a question that I hear a lot. And I think I have a little bit of a different take on it. So the question is Who needs a coach? Now? I don’t think anyone needs a coach, right? We are all perfectly imperfect human beings. We’re all capable of change. We are all fully competent and enough for who we are and no one needs a coach in their life. That being said, I do think everyone can benefit from having a coach because I think An effective coach can really support you in developing that self trust, and that self confidence and in becoming the best version of yourself. I think that so often when we explore coaching or when we’re coaching, curious and starting down that road, we’re often focused on what’s not working about our life or what’s wrong, or what do we, what do we want. And coaching supports us in becoming who we were meant to be. And when we can really rewrite that script in our heads, when we can start focusing on becoming the versions of ourselves who we were meant to be today, we are naturally more willing to do what there is for us to do in our relationships, in our careers, with our finances, in our businesses, in order to have what we are meant to have. I think oftentimes, when we explore coaching, we think about, oh, I just want, you know, I want more money, or I want people to respect me, or I want to scale my business. And I think that’s great. I think those are all completely valid goals. But what I would say is that we don’t want people to respect us for respects sake, and we don’t want to make more money for money’s sake. And we don’t want to become entrepreneurs and build things and create new ideas for new businesses and new things and new ideas sake, we want those things in order to have the distinct experience of life that we were meant to have and be. So I think that an effective coach can really support you in leaning into the practices that will allow you to prioritize and empower the ways of being that you are committed to having now. So what do I mean by that, to support you in becoming the most joyful, most grounded, most peaceful, most happiest, most satisfied, most fully self expressed effective co versions of yourselves now, so that you can create the greater levels of income and have the more expansive schedules and more time freedom in your life. It’s we’re truly rewriting the script so that you can be who there is for you to become now. And in order to do what there is to do and have what there is for you to have. I heard a really powerful quote, recently that I think really captures this idea for me, which is just the invitation that you’ve mastered doing start being an effective coach will support you in that transformation. So I hope that you’ve found today’s episode helpful. If you’ve taken away any new gems or insights for yourself, I would love to hear from you. We will link all of the resources and the organizations that we mentioned in today’s episode in the shownotes. So you’re welcome to dive in and find all those resources there. If you’re at a place in your career or leadership, where you’re interested in exploring, working with a coach, we would be happy to have that conversation with you and see if myself or a member on my coaching team is a great fit for you. Have a great week.


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The Prosperous Empath® Podcast is produced by Heart Centered Podcasting.

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