There are many coaching terms floating around today, including life coach, executive coach, and personal development coach.  But what do they all really mean?  And are they the same, or are they different?  If you have ever wondered what a coach is, you’re NOT alone.  While these terms are widely popular, they don’t often come with an explanation of what they mean.  Which is why we have an answer for you below.

Coaching is a broad term used to describe a field, similar to psychology and medicine.  However, unlike these other fields, coaching is not controlled by state or federal statues or regulations for licensure and credentialing.  Rather, coaching has standards for the field set by organizations such as the International Coaching Federation (ICF).  While organizations like the ICF set standards for the field and approve coach training programs which meet their standards, they do not prohibit individuals who don’t meet their standards from calling themselves a coach.  It is important to find out the training a coach has before entering into an agreement with them.

Coaches trained to the standards of organizations such as the ICF receive the credential of Professional Coach; typically abbreviated as PC.  This credential provides the coach with the education necessary to call themselves a life, executive, or personal development coach; all of which are designations of the coach’s area of expertise.  Notably, they are all Professional Coaches.

Typically, a coach’s area of expertise is an area they are passionate about and have experience in.  For instance, a life coach’s area of expertise is broad and helps individuals address an area or areas of their life they wish to work on.  While a life coach may have a broad area of expertise, they may choose to specialize in a specific area.  For instance, a life coach without a specialty lets their clients dictate what they wish to work on; while a life coach with a specialty, such as relationships, will market themselves as a life coach who specializes in relationships, drawing in clients who wish to work on the relationships or a single relationship in their life.

An executive coach specializes in working with organizational leaders.  Typically, they are contracted by an organization or a third-party intermediary to work with pre-chosen individuals of an organization.  The specific area of coaching depends on the contract but can include leadership development, working on job-role competencies, or personal competencies, such as emotional intelligence.

A personal development coach specializes in helping individuals develop personal competencies in relation to achieving a goal or vision.  For instance, an individual may work with a personal development coach to strengthen their communication skills.  Or, an individual may work with a personal development coach to reach the next stage in their career or create the life they desire.

Life coaches, executive coaches, and personal development coaches can appear similar; and while they are, they do differ in the areas they specialize in.  Reviewing the coach’s website, experience, and talking to them will help determine the area of expertise and specialty the coach truly has.

We know it can seem intimidating to decide if we need a coach and which coach is right.  We are here to help!  Contact us today by clicking here to schedule a free consultation or call us at (412)420-0706.

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