For those who may be unfamiliar with the term as it relates to coaching, “presence” refers to the coach’s ability to be “fully present” to the client; in other words, alert, keenly focused on the client and actively listening in every sense of the term. In fact this is so critical to coaching that the International Coaching Federation (ICF) holds that coaching by definition must be done face-to-face or over-the-phone, otherwise it is simply not coaching.
I agree. While it may be surprising to hear this coming from one who has invested considerable time and resources in the development of a web application to support coaching, I have come to appreciate that coaching is unique among the helping relationships with respect to the relative degree of importance it places on “presence”. While essential in all professional helping relationships, “presence” is of utmost importance in the coaching relationship because coaching is based, not on a “diagnose and treat” medical model, but on the premise that the client does not present with a need to be assessed, analyzed or directed; rather the client is viewed as complete and fully capable of resolving, discovering and directing their own actions successfully. To the extent the coach supports such discovery by being fully present to the client and artfully facilitating the client’s self-directed journey, the client will begin to actualize their potential to identify, express and achieve all that is within him or herself.
Thus, I make a distinction here between “Technology Enhanced Coaching” and “online coaching”…
This article first appeared in TILT Magazine ~ Therapeutic Innovations in Light of Technology Vol. 1(4).