The six phases of a typical coaching process

By Paul van den Hout /

Nowadays, coaching is popular. Many people are proud to have their own coach, who helps to get those extraordinary results in their professional or personal life.

A typical change process could take between 6 and 8 sessions. Afterwards coaching sessions are often used as a kind of “maintenance”, where coach and client would be catching up on a regular base on how things are progressing. Important to mention, that the coach is not a therapist, nor and advisor or consultant. With a coaching process, the client has the answers and it will be the coach who should ask the right questions.

“Coaching will deepen your self-knowledge, lift your performance and improve your quality in life”.

We could structure a typical coaching process in six individual phases:

Phase 1.

Get to know each other and defining the focus/horizon of the coaching process.

This is a crucial part. The coach will explain what coaching is(and isn´t), explain the coaching agreement, discuss the confidentiality and professional ethics as set by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), he/she listens carefully to  the expectations of the client,  and would ask for his/her commitment to reach the goal. Afterwards, both coach and coachee agree if this focus is measurable and feasible. During this first phase, the coach will paraphrase and summarize to understand the coachee exactly.

The client/coachee should feel comfortable, notice a connection with the coach and feel free to talk about anything withholding him/her to be successful in life.

The coach explains the structure of the sessions, the privacy rules, and the TRUST that´s required to get a positive result. Each session could have a specific sub goal/item, within the stipulated horizon. They should always be formulated in a positive way.

Phase 2.

Finetune or further inquire, “peeling the onion”. ASK, ASK, ASK!

When the focus has been clearly marked, so we all know in what direction to move, the coach will start asking relevant questions and start exploring the upper- and under flow. What has been said, and what´s hasn´t, and what are the nonverbal expressions? What´s behind these? Phase two is like  “peeling an onion”, it has many layers and step by step the conversation goes deeper, towards the essential part of the process.

Phase 3.

Feedback vs Feedforward

Once the coachee has discovered, what is the core item he/she is dealing with, the coach could ask to imagine this future, ideal situation. From that “position”, he will be invited to look back (a kind of dejá vù as in the movie of Denzel Washington). What has happened since then, who were there to support you, what have you left behind to reach this situation, what have you learned etc. It´s a fantastic reflection observed from a positive point of view. It requires courage, self-respect and can only be done if the coachee is ready for it.

Phase 4.

Paradigm of the Coachee

After we have seen ourselves from the future, knowing that everything could be alright, it´s a good moment to see where we stand today as a person in this world in relation to:


and our values towards OURSELVES, OTHERS and our willingness to LEARN.



Phase 5.

Action time!

To reach the desired result, we should make concrete commitments and a detailed action plan.

  • When?
  • How?
  • Priorities; what´s important?
  • What´s urgent?
  • How to check the results?
  • Who will be involved?
  • Any obstacles?
  • Is it feasible?

Phase 6.

Closure & follow-up

 After each individual session it will be important to evaluate on the following:

 * What did I learn from this session, what are the takeaways?

 * How am I going to put it in practice? Any queries?

 * What will be the tasks/homework for the next session?

 * If required by the coachee, get feedback from the coach.

 * Scheduling the next coaching session; date, time.


Paul van den Hout / Barcelona, June 2020

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