What is coaching?

On this page, we'll discuss:

The difference between coaching, consulting and therapy
How a coach will support you in reaching your goals
The various modalities I use with my clients: somatic, ontological and facilitative
Additional resources for learning about coaching

Let’s begin with a basic overview of what you can expect from an ICF-accredited coach:

A good coach will:

Create a judgement-free environment where people feel safe to explore their goals, needs and values.
Present tools and distinctions relevant to the client’s unique challenges
Ask questions that evoke intentional thought, action and behavioral changes
Guide the creation of accountability and support structures necessary to ensure sustained commitment
Support a client in exploring why they are resisting a specific action and what they need to overcome that block
Co-create practices with the client designed to break up blocks to their success

How exactly does it work?

Coaching provides the ongoing support and accountability required to make lasting change in your life. Typically, a coach will want to meet with you regularly so that you can do the deep work required to see results.

Coaching works with principles of neuroscience and involves conversations, tools, and practices designed to help you adopt behaviors and new ways of thinking that facilitate your next-level success.

Over the years, you’ve learned to operate in specific ways. Your conditioned behaviors and beliefs are deeply ingrained – and for good reason! They’ve allowed you a certain level of success (and, in some cases, lots of success!), kept you safe, and been a part of your personal identity.

But these conditioned behaviors also make certain things impossible.

For example:

  • The perfectionism that made you a killer employee may sabotage your success as a CEO.
  • The “fix it” attitude that makes you an awesome mom may prevent you from setting boundaries and having exquisite self-care.
  • The black-and-white thinking that supported you through the military is smothering your creativity as an entrepreneur.

To see new results, you can’t rely on the same old strategies.


Through my work with Meg, I created major shifts. I stopped agonizing about the 'right' decision, berating myself over mistakes and getting stuck on the 'should haves.' I overcame fears and insecurities, as well as grew my business.

~ Jo Hoffberg

Coaches facilitate an experience that helps you develop awareness of conditioned behaviors and learn to interrupt them.

In this way, over time, you create new neural pathways in the brain. Why are those important? Neural pathways are the basis of your habits of thinking, feeling, and acting. If you change your neural pathways, you fundamentally change how you show up in the world.

Put another way, you can expect fewer self-sabotages, more control of your fears, more resilience and many other benefit.

Pretty cool, right?

But let’s be clear: Coaching is a unique methodology. It is different than consulting or therapy.

In therapy, the client goes through a process of healing. They work with their therapist to recover from something traumatic that happened in the past. If you work with a therapist, you must get clearance before hiring a coach.

In consulting, the consultant tells the client what to do. It is up to the client to make any suggested changes.

Coaches are expert facilitators.

They work with clients to discover what the client wants, create a roadmap to get there, work through fears, and remove blocks stalling their momentum.

The coach helps the client tap into their intuition, creativity and resilience. This can be confronting (but ultimately liberating) for clients who look for answers outside of themselves, get stuck in “I don’t know how,” or subconsciously carry the story “I’m not good enough.”

My modalities:

Let’s geek out about coaching for a second, shall we?

When I work with clients, I pull from three different schools of coaching: facilitative, ontological and somatic.

What is facilitative coaching?

Facilitative coaching is the nuts and bolts of any coaching relationship. It includes identifying values-aligned goals, creating the plan for how to achieve those goals, setting up support structures for when the going gets tough and rigorous accountability. Inevitably, however, things don’t go as planned. This is why the next type of coaching is so important.

What is ontological coaching?

Ontology is the study of being. Who we “be” in any situation is as important as what we do. For instance, a talented massage therapist who is discerning, compassionate, and courageous in offering their services will likely create more sustainable success than one who is closed off, fearful, or can’t set boundaries. Similarly, the woman who gets creative when she hits a roadblock will likely fare better than the woman who berates herself for “failing.”

In ontological coaching, we look at the behaviors and beliefs that a client brings to their challenges. These are often the reason why something does or does not ultimately succeed.

What is somatic coaching?

“Soma” is the greek word for body. Because more messages go from the body to the mind than from the mind to the body, it is important that we raise our somatic awareness to create lasting change.

Additional Resources

To learn more about coaching and the coaching industry, check out the following links:

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