The International Coach Federation, the gold standard of the coaching profession, defines coaching as follows.
Professional coaching focuses on setting goals, creating outcomes and managing personal change. Sometimes it’s helpful to understand coaching by distinguishing it from other personal or organizational support professions.
- Therapy: Therapy deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or in relationships. The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past that hamper an individual's emotional functioning in the present, improving overall psychological functioning, and dealing with the present in more emotionally healthy ways.
- Consulting: Individuals or organizations retain consultants for their expertise. While consulting approaches vary widely, the assumption is the consultant will diagnose problems and prescribe and, sometimes, implement solutions.
- Mentoring: A mentor is an expert who provides wisdom and guidance based on his or her own experience.
- Training: Training programs are based on objectives set out by the trainer or instructor. Training assumes a linear learning path that coincides with an established curriculum.
ICF Headquarters - What is Coaching?