What are the main schools of coaching?

Although coaching began in the United States within the sports sector, its practice as a discipline has expanded to different areas of life, from business communities to personal and professional life. Nowadays, coaching is considered a global trend and can be divided into various areas, laid out in the following sections.

The four largest schools of coaching

Currently, there are four professional areas or schools of coaching that differ in how they began and can be identified by their geographic origin. While these schools of coaching have set the precedent for the practice of this discipline, each coach may have their own specific methods in line with their personal experience.

1. North American School

This school was founded by Thomas Leonard, who is considered a pioneer in the development of professional coaching. Its style is linked to North American culture as it is practical, administrative and action-based. Its application centres mainly on organization and improving personal and professional performance. Critics say that this professional area is very vague regarding human resources as it lacks depth.

2. European School

This is based on the training method called “The Inner Game” created by Timothy Gallwey. This method alludes to the inner mental game that exists in the mind of the player (such as fear or lack of self-confidence) that can mark the difference between success and failure. The method of “The Inner Game” was picked back up again by John Whitmore and influenced by humanist psychology, giving way to introspective coaching, where methods extract the potential of the coachee.

3. Chilean School

This professional area is also known as ontological coaching. It is based on the works of Fernando Flores and Rafael Echeverría, as the book “Language Ontology”, in 1994, was the main reference book. The basic principles of this school include:

  • Language as a key to understanding human phenomena.
  • Human beings have the capacity to invent themselves through their language.
  • Language is generative and works to not only describe reality but also to create and shape one’s own identity.
  • The brain interprets what the senses perceive and as each person views reality differently it lacks absolute certainty. Truth does not exist and in its place, interpretations arise that can either give or take away power. As a result, language is not innocent but rather each proposition or interpretation can open or close certain possibilities.

4. Oriental School

This school is based on oriental spirituality which is traditionally linked to personal growth. One of the best known areas within coaching of eastern origin is kaizen, a Japanese expression that means “beneficial change or improvement”. This method is very popular among business coaching and suggests making small but constant changes that are used in a process of continuous improvement.

Have you ever been to a coaching session? If so, we would like to know your opinion about the methodology and the professional area used. Share your experience!







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