According to Wikipedia.org:
Coaching is a method of directing, instructing and training a person or group of people, with the aim to achieve some goal or develop specific skills. There are many ways to coach, types of coaching and methods to coaching. Direction may include motivational speaking. Training may include seminars, workshops, and supervised practice.
Life Coaching Origins and History
Today coaching plays an important role in Human resource development (HRD) and life help, and the field of coaching as a distinct area of study is rapidly gaining ground. Although the role of coach has changed over time, some examples of research papers on business coaching show that between the late 1930s and the late 1960s, some forms of internal coaching in organizations were already present; i.e. managers (or supervisors) also acted as coaches to their staff (cf. Zeus & Skiffington, 2002.; Grant, 2003.a; 2006.). Gorby (1937.) specified how older employees were trained to coach new employees to reduce wastage.
The evolution of this formal discipline has been influenced by and enhanced through the incorporation of pertinent maxims from other fields of study including personal development philosophies, adult education practices, elements of psychology (sports, clinical, developmental, organizational, social and industrial) and other organizational or leadership principles. Since the mid 1970′s, coaching has developed into a more independent discipline and has a set of training standards (Davidson & Gasiorowski, 2006).
Today, coaching is a recognized discipline used by many professionals engaged in people development. However, as a distinct profession it is relatively new and self-regulating. There are six self-appointed accreditation bodies for business and life coaching: the International Coaching Council (ICC), the International Coach Federation (ICF), the International Association of Coaching (IAC), the Certified Coaches Federation (CCF), the European Coaching Institute (ECI) and the International Guild of Coaches (IGC). No independent supervisory board evaluates these programs and they are all privately owned. These bodies all accredit various coaching schools as well as individual coaches, except the IAC and ECI which only accredits individuals.
According to Davidson & Gasiorowski (2006) ICF has been “key in identifying training criteria and ethical standards in this rapidly evolving field” (p.189).
It is important for future clients to distinguish between coaches who are professionally trained and/or accredited and those who “hang their name plate” out as a coach. Professional coaching skills are transferable across the variety of areas in which a coach may be employed. Whitworth, et al (1998) stated that “the coaches experience is confined to the coaching process. The coaches job is to help clients articulate their dreams, desires and aspirations, help them clarify their mission, purpose and goals, and help them achieve that outcome” (p.5) in any area of life (i.e. personal, professional, relationship, health etc…).
Recent practices in performance coaching for non-sporting environments focus on non-directive questioning, provocation and helping clients to analyze and solve their own challenges, rather than offering advice or direction (see Timothy Gallwey‘s The Inner Game of Tennis, Myles Downey’s Effective Coaching, or Nigel MacLennan’s Coaching and Mentoring).