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  • Writer's pictureHelga Brandt

Coaching for personal & professional development

Updated: Jan 29

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as

partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.(

As a creative freelancer and business owner I certainly find my line of work fulfilling – and yet, life as a freelancer can at times be lonely or disorientating. We plan, we network, we co-work, but sometimes we could do with some support to (re-)discover our inner compass, to (re-)focus our attention, or to explore new directions. I have found coaching to be a powerful tool to help me shape the direction of my business, to work out what I want from it and how my personal way of getting there might look like.

What is coaching and what could it do for you?

The basis of 1:1 coaching are structured, collaborative conversations with the aim to help someone reach a goal, be it personal or professional. Coaching is solution-focused, results-orientated and forward-looking.

It is empowering, because coaching is based on trusting that we already know the answers and solutions that work for us. The coach is there to provide a safe space for thinking and self-guided learning. A coach listens, reflects and questions to enable you to find your own way, your own solution.

To me, coaching is like a lighthouse beacon for personal & professional development – rather than offering a predefined set of directions, it illuminates the surroundings, so the individual path can be seen more clearly.

I already have a mentor. Do I need a coach as well?

Coaching is part of a whole suite of supporting tools and approaches that can be useful at some point or other, including, but not limited to mindfulness, training, mentoring or counselling / therapy. It is applicable to both personal and professional development.

They are not mutually exclusive, either. It can be useful to work with a mentor and a coach at the same time. Or we find different approaches helpful at different stages in our lives/careers.

Coaching is the least directive of these approaches. The coach is there to hold space, to stay curious, and to enable free thinking, but ownership for the solutions reached lies with the person who is being coached. A mentoring relationship is more directive as one of the objectives is for the mentee to learn and grow from the mentor’s experience and advice. At the opposite end of this spectrum, we can place consultancy, which is highly directive. A consultant is hired for their knowledge and expertise, and they are expected to provide solutions to the client.

The most important difference between coaching and counselling is that counselling is therapy and will be provided by a trained mental health specialist. Counselling is exploratory and aimed at helping clients to “gain a better understanding of your feelings and thought processes” , often by exploring the past. Read more about counselling on the NHS website.

For a more detailed comparison of coaching, mentoring and counselling see

What can I expect from a coaching session?

Usually, we’ll have a short “chemistry call” before our first session, where I explain how I work and clarify any questions you might have. I will also send you a coaching contract.

The sessions are confidential and before we begin I will make sure that you are comfortable and that we are both clear about the coaching process and the objective of the session(s).

What happens in the session is largely down to you. My role as coach is to provide a framework for our conversation and to hold a safe space for your thinking and self-guided learning. I will listen, question and reflect back. I will be alongside you as you work towards your solution.

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