Management & Leadership

The Role of Psychology in Coaching

May 06, 2022 | By Saranne Durham
The Role of Psychology in Coaching - SACAP
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There are 5 different types of coaching. Each with a different primary purpose. After deciding what you need your coach’s focus to be, you’ll need to choose a specific coach to work with. Therefore, choosing a coach means weighing up various options, approaches and their baseline training. As you undergo the process of finding a coach, understanding the role of psychology in coaching is helpful.

What is the Difference between a Psychologist and a Coach?

Coaches and psychologists have different purposes and therefore they vary in their approach to things.

A psychologist focuses on understanding and resolving past issues. Thereby, enabling healing so that their client can move forward. Usually the process is not time-bound. To maximise impact, psychologists usually have extensive knowledge within a specific field. They therefore are an expert in the subject matter which the type of therapy they focus on needs.

In contrast a coach works alongside their client to achieve specific purposes and future goals. Their aim is to assist the client with self-development. Therefore, goals are usually short-term focused. They are accompanied by an agreed strategy, which the coach holds their client accountable to. Short term goals can also be used as milestones to build towards a longer-term bigger goal.

Coaches tend towards focusing within the five areas of coaching. These being:

  1. Executive Coaching.
  2. Career Coaching.
  3. Skills Coaching.
  4. Relationship Coaching.
  5. Personal Life Coaching.

However, while specialist training is an advantage, it is not a necessity. This is because clients are required to draw on their own experiences. As well as leverage their inherent advantages and skills to activate their potential.

“Coaches look to the future for self-development. Psychologists delve into the past intending to heal.”

The Purpose of a Psychologist

The reason people need to work with a psychologist varies. Thus, the need for different types of psychology. Despite these differences, the specialisations within the field are all underpinned by a common purpose. To create a meaningful and lasting constructive, positive change in people’s lives. Thereby, influencing their behaviour and fostering a client’s ability to have a more fulfilled and satisfactory life.

The Foundations of Coaching

Coaches that understand the role of psychology in coaching are an advantage to their clients. This is because coaching has its foundations in the field of psychology. Fundamentally, coaching builds on the elements of our humanity, which seek to create health as well as happiness. It is based on a framework that is built around healthy productivity being essential to creating an individual’s meaning and life purpose.

1. Coaching and Thought Process/Overcoming Challenges

Psychology is based on understanding the mind. It’s essentially founded on the science behind how people think, feel and behave. An agile mindset is particularly advantageous when you need to overcome or adapt to unexpected events.

Coaches assist people with developing their thinking and understanding. They do this in order to help people identify and adjust their behaviours. This is so that they are able to fast track the time taken to achieve a goal. Thus, having a coach with a base that includes models for reasoning and developing thought processes is an advantage. Since this can have a positive impact on how we rationalise things and come up with solutions when faced with challenges. Thereby, coaching fosters an agile mind.

2. Coaching and Behaviour Change

Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT) seeks to change automatic thinking and behaviours. Specifically, those that negatively affect us, which reinforce or lead to unhelpful responses and patterns in our lives.

Coaching can ease our cognitive load. This means that it helps us to absorb and process information. In so doing it enables us to understand and retain new material. By augmenting our self-awareness, coaching helps us to see connections between how we perceive things, what we think and how this impacts our behaviour. Through this process, we are able to identify unhelpful patterns and thereby adjust our behaviour to advantage ourselves.

3. Coaching and Mental Health

Our mental health and wellbeing are determined by how we think, feel, interact and relate to the world around us. While biology can determine aspects of our mental health, the environment we operate within can also be a causal factor of wellbeing. Thus, factors such as stress levels, existing habits and coping strategies can all affect our mental health.

Coaching has proven to be an effective intervention strategy. Research shows that it can positively impact our self-awareness, stress management and resilience. All of which lead to improved life-satisfaction; thereby better mental health and all-round wellbeing.

Where to Qualify as a Coach with an Understanding of Psychology?

If you are a people-person and passionate about making a positive impact in other’s lives then consider becoming a coach. Coaching is becoming an increasingly popular way to enhance personal and professional development. Therefore, the demand for well-trained coaches will continue to grow.

The South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP) has over 15-years of experience in running a range of coaching courses. Coaching courses at SACAP assist in building a good understanding of applied psychology. Courses are accredited by the ICF and aligned with COMENSA. For more information, enquire now

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