The Life Coach Encyclopedia: 60 Coaching Terms That Every Coach Should Know

coaching terms

If you’re new to the life coaching industry, you may be overwhelmed by all the coaching terms you see getting tossed around.

That’s why we’ve gathered 60 of the most important coaching terms you need to know about as you grow your own coaching business!

60 Coaching Terms Every Life Coach Should Know

1. Absolutes

Absolutes are a type of generalisation that people can make when exaggerating about the reality of a situation. People who use absolutes will use words like:

  • Never
  • Always
  • Everone
  • Anyone
  • No one

Using absolutes leaves no room for other possibilities. 

2. Accountability

Accountability means taking responsibility for one’s actions, but also for the results of those actions. As a coach, you can hold your coachee accountable for getting the necessary work done so that they can accomplish their goals.

3. Action-oriented

This is a coaching style that focuses on planning solutions and taking action on those plans.

4. Active listening

As a coach, you need to practice active listening with your coachees. This is a method of listening that involves fully hearing what the other person has to say and what they really mean.

Active listening sometimes requires you to pause before responding, so that you can fully digest the information the other person has given you.

5. Agreement

Together with your client, you’ll come up with a coaching agreement that serves you both. An agreement lays out how often you’ll meet, what is expected from the client in between sessions, and anything else both parties need to know about the coaching relationship

You and your client should regularly review the agreement together to ensure both parties are still satisfied.

6. Analogy

An analogy is a comparison between two situations to explain or illustrate a coaching concept. For example, this popular quote from Forrest Gump is an analogy:

“Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get.”

7. Authenticity 

Showing up with authenticity as a coach means that your words and actions are in line with your personal values and desires. You’re being genuinely you

You should coach with authenticity, but you can also coach your clients to show up with more authenticity, too.

8. Blaming

Blaming others is a way to avoid personal responsibility. 

9. Body wisdom

Having body wisdom is the ability to feel sensations in one’s body in response to physical or emotional stimuli. You can teach coaches how to practice body wisdom so that they can better understand themselves.

10. Burnout

Burnout happens when chronic workplace stress goes unchecked and unmanaged. 

11. Business coaching

A coach who specializes in business coaching helps business owners of all levels to overcome specific issues and reach their business goals.

12. Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a way to come up with new ideas and solutions, especially to solve problems a client is dealing with. Both you and your client should contribute your thoughts in a brainstorming session.

13. Career coaching

As a career coach, you help people figure out how to make the best decisions for their career path. Career coaching can also involve career goal setting, salary negotiations, strategies to get a promotion, etc.

14. Celebration

It’s important to set time aside to celebrate your clients’ wins with them. Encourage your clients to realize what they’ve accomplished so far and celebrate what it means to them.

15. Challenging

Coaching will often involve you challenging your coachee in several ways, including:

  • Challenging their current perspective
  • Challenging their assumptions about themselves, others, and the world
  • Challenging their deeply held beliefs

You can challenge your client without judging or criticizing them.

16. Change fallacy

A client who believes in the change fallacy expects the people in their lives to change for them. When this doesn’t happen, they believe that those people don’t care about them enough.

17. Code of ethics

A code of ethics is a document that outlines your mission, your values, and other beliefs that guide how you’ll practice coaching in your business. You should always abide by your personal code of ethics.

18. Cognitive behavioral coaching (CBC)

CBC was developed from evidence-based psychological models. With these techniques, you can help your clients overcome self-defeating thoughts and behaviors. It aims to get at the root of someone’s challenges, to help them reach their full potential.

19. Cognitive dissonance

When there’s a gap between what someone has experienced and what they believe, they have cognitive dissonance. This contradiction creates mental discomfort for the coachee.

20. Dancing in the moment

‘Dancing in the moment’ is a way to describe how a coach can be fully present with their client. When you’re dancing in the moment, you’re able to notice your client’s fluctuations in energy. You can also follow your client’s flow.

21. Dating coach

A dating coach guides someone to improve the outcome of their dating experiences. This type of coach usually starts by figurout out what their clients want as a desired outcome. Dating coaches aren’t the same as relationship coaches – the later focus on long-term relationship health.

22. Deepening the learning

Every action has the potential for learning. It’s your job as a coach to help your coachees deepen their learning by analyzing their past actions or perspectives and see how this can lead the way for future action.

23. Depersonalisation 

When someone experiences depersonalisation, it can feel like their voice and body is no longer their own. This usually happens during periods of trauma, but mild depersonalisation can happen during stressful moments or during anxiety attacks.

24. Designing actions

As a coach, you can help your client design new alternative actions so that they can move towards their goal. 

25. Development coaching

Development coaching aims to help clients learn from their actions.

26. Direct communication

In direct communication, a coach respectfully and honestly communicates with their client to open their mind, share new perspectives, and provide feedback. 

27. Emotional intelligence

As a coach, you can help improve your clients’ emotional intelligence. This form of intelligence is based on emotional, social, and personal abilities that allow someone to deal with the challenges life throws at them.

28. Emotional reasoning

Someone who deals with emotional reasoning will believe that if they feel something, it must be true.

29. Focus session

A focus session is a method used to help your coachees focus, overcome distractions, and progress more quickly towards their goals.

30. Future-pacing

Future-pacing is a powerful coaching technique in which you help your clients imagine themselves in the future. By picturing where they want to be in vivid detail, they can trace back how they got there.

31. Goal setting

Goal setting is a key component of any coaching process. It involves helping your clients plan and commit to their desired outcomes.

32. Group coaching

In group coaching, you bring together multiple clients in the same session. You can either facilitate the session as everyone shares their own challenges and ideas with the others, or you can take a more traditional approach and drive the session.

33. Habit trigger

Habit triggers are cues that provoke your brain to think about something or commit an action.

There are six types of triggers:

  • Spatial
  • Temporal
  • Emotional
  • Interpersonal
  • Sequential
  • Sensory

Habit triggers can be a challenge to overcome with old, unhealthy habits. But they can also be used to develop new, healthier habits.

34. Health coaching

Health coaching involves helping clients develop the skills and tools to empower themselves for their wellbeing. 

35. Holding space

Holding space is a way to feel empathy towards your coachee and make time for them to express themselves fully, without judgement.

36. Hypothetical question

Hypothetical questions are “what if” scenarios that you can use to explore scenarios with your clients.

37. International Coaching Federation (ICF)

The ICF is a global organization that runs the world’s only globally recognized coaching certification

38. Intuition

Also known as “gut feeling”, intuition refers to what you know to be true without necessarily understanding why. 

39. Inward reflection

Inward reflection is a necessary process in coaching during which coachees set time aside to process their thoughts and emotions. Periods of inward reflection can help your clients put their thoughts in order to achieve deeper breakthroughs.

40. Limiting belief

As a coach, you’ll have to help your clients overcome limiting beliefs. These false beliefs block your clients from achieving their goals because of something that isn’t true – but they fully believe it is.

41. Meet them where they are

As a coach, it’s important to understand where your coachees are during the present moment. To meet them where they are is to level with them, speak their language, and empathize with their current situation.

42. Mindfulness

Your coaching clients can achieve mindfulness by focusing on the present moment. It involves noticing what’s happening right now – feelings, sensations, and the world around them – without judgment. 

43. Motivation

Motivation is the inner force that drives you forward. Extrinsic motivation is driven by external forces like success or money, whereas intrinsic motivation is driven by internal factors like self-actualization. 

44. NLP

Neuro-linguistic programming is an approach to personal development and communication based in psychotherapy. It involves helping your clients reprogram behavioral patterns to help them achieve their goals.

45. Overwhelm

When your coaching clients have too much going on, they may get overwhelmed. As their coach, it’s important to help them feel through the clutter and regain control.

46. Paradox of choice

Freedom is necessary for happiness. But too many choices can lead to anxiety and analysis paralysis. That’s the paradox of choice.

47. Personal development

Personal development is the growth of one’s skills, knowledge, abilities, and self-awareness.

48. Perspectives

Helping your clients see things from a different perspective can reframe an issue and inspire them to come up with new solutions.

49. Polarised thinking

This is also known as “black or white thinking”. Someone with polarized thinking may see things only in extremes. For instance, they may think people who don’t adore them therefore hate them.

50. Purpose

When something or an activity has meaning, it has purpose. You can help your clients commit actions with more purpose so they can live a more fulfilling life.

51. Reflection

Reflection is a coaching technique that involves you repeating words back to your coachee in the same way they’ve spoken them. It lets your client know you’ve heard them fully. It can also help them think about what they’ve said.

52. Responsibility

Taking responsibility means taking ownership over something or a situation. It needs to come from within. You can’t force your clients to take responsibility, but you can guide them in that direction.

53. Self-actualization

When a client reaches self-actualization, they begin to fully see their potential and take the steps to achieve it. As a coach, you can help trigger this self-actualization, but you cannot force it in others.

54. Somatic

Somatic means relating to the body. For example, psychosomatic refers to a physical ailment caused by a psychological factor. As a coach, you can also use somatic techniques to help clients tune into their bodies and use physical movement to create a shift in their thoughts or emotions.

55. Strategic thinking

Strategic thinking involves creating a strategic plan of action that takes the big picture into account to achieve goals.

56. Transference

Transference happens when someone displaces their feelings about someone in their childhood to someone else entirely. 

57. Transformational coaching

A transformational coach helps their clients achieve the necessary transformations to improve themselves and their lives.

58. Trust

Trust is necessary between you and your coaching clients. They need to trust that you’re capable of helping them get where they want to be, but they also need to trust that you’ll keep their information confidential.

59. Unconditional positive regard

This concept was originally developed by Carl Rogers, a renowned psychologist. It means you unconditionally accept and support someone, no matter what this person says or does.

60. Vision

As a coach, you’ll need to help your clients come up with a vision for what their future will look like. 

Visions can be written down or vividly imagined in your clients’ minds. 

Learn These Coaching Terms to Improve Your Coaching Practice

Make sure to bookmark this page to refer back to if you need help remember some of these important coaching terms.

Need help on the admin side of your business? Paperbell helps you simplify the admin side of coaching so that you can focus on helping your clients achieve their goals. Create your account for free to start streamlining your coaching business today!

coaching terms

By Charlene Boutin
Charlene is an email marketing and content strategy coach for small business owners and freelancers. Over the past 5 years, she has helped and coached 50+ small business owners to increase their traffic with blog content and grow their email subscribers.
January 26, 2022

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