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The Psychology Behind Coaching: 7 Core Principles

Coaching, in its essence, is about facilitating change. Whether it's improving performance, enhancing leadership skills, or achieving personal growth, the fundamental role of a coach is to support individuals towards realizing their full potential.


But what drives this transformative journey? The answer lies deep within the realms of psychology.


As an executive coach who has had the honor of guiding many leaders, and the founder of a coaching school that delivers ICF certification programs, I’ve been privileged to be part of many such transformative journeys. Allow me to share 7 core principles of psychology and stories of leaders that I had coached.



1. The Importance of Self-awareness:


At the heart of coaching is the concept of self-awareness. Coaches help individuals recognize their strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, values, and emotions. By holding up a mirror to the coachee's inner world, coaches pave the way for self-discovery. This is crucial because a deep understanding of oneself is the first step towards meaningful change.


Laura's Journey: Laura, a high-ranking marketing director, felt a dissonance between her professional role and her personal aspirations. Through our sessions, Laura uncovered her latent drive for creative endeavors. With this newfound self-awareness, she transitioned into a role where her creativity was at the forefront, reinvigorating her passion for her work.


2. Cognitive Behavioral Foundations:


Many coaching techniques have roots in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). By helping clients identify and challenge limiting beliefs and unhelpful thought patterns, coaches can drive behavioral change.

The premise is simple: change the way you think, and you can change the way you act.

Max's Transformation: Max had always seen himself as a behind-the-scenes kind of leader, believing he lacked the charisma for forefront leadership. Digging deep, we traced this belief to a single confrontational event early in his career. Together, we reframed this past experience, unlocking Max’s potential. Today, he stands as the CEO of a thriving enterprise.


3. The Power of Goal Setting:


Psychologically, goals act as powerful motivators. When individuals have a clear vision of what they want to achieve, they're more likely to take proactive steps towards that destination. Coaches employ SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals to give direction and purpose to the coaching journey.


Isabelle's Breakthrough: Isabelle had a vision for her startup but felt buried under the weight of countless tasks. By helping her define SMART goals, we streamlined her priorities. Setting tangible milestones gave her direction, and her startup has since gained significant traction.


4. Positive Reinforcement and Feedback:


Drawing from behavioral psychology, positive reinforcement encourages desired behaviors. Through timely feedback and recognizing achievements, coaches instill confidence and bolster the coachee's self-esteem, creating a positive feedback loop that fosters continuous growth.


Ahmed's Progress: Ahmed, despite his consistent track record, was his own harshest critic. Our sessions focused on recognizing and celebrating his achievements. This newfound appreciation for his own work led Ahmed to spearhead a groundbreaking project, transforming a significant aspect of his industry.


5. The Role of Empathy and Trust:


The therapeutic alliance, a bond of trust and mutual understanding, is as crucial in coaching as it is in therapy.

By creating a safe, empathetic, and non-judgmental space, coaches allow clients to open up, explore vulnerabilities, and embrace change without fear.


Sophie's Revelation: In her new role within a multinational firm, Sofia grappled with imposter syndrome. Our safe and empathetic coaching sessions became her sounding board, allowing her to voice her insecurities. In time, she found her footing and embraced her new responsibilities, leading her team to multiple successes.


6. Addressing Emotional Barriers:


Emotions play a pivotal role in decision-making and behavior.

Coaches employ emotional intelligence to detect, understand, and address emotional barriers, be it fear, anxiety, or past traumas, that might impede the coachee's progress.

Lucas's Leap: Lucas had everything – talent, drive, vision – but was held back by a deep-rooted fear of public speaking. Together, we revisited a traumatic public event from his youth. By addressing and processing this memory, Lucas was able to overcome his fears. He's since become a sought-after speaker in his field.


7. Growth Mindset:


Popularized by psychologist Carol Dweck, the concept of a "growth mindset" – the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed – is central to the coaching philosophy. Coaches work to shift individuals from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, fostering resilience, perseverance, and a love for learning.


Elena's Evolution: Elena was an exemplary analyst but shied away from leadership roles, believing she wasn’t cut out for it. Discovering the concept of the growth mindset transformed Elena's perspective. Embracing challenges as opportunities, she climbed the corporate ladder and is now an inspiration to her team.


The psychology behind coaching is intricate, multifaceted, and deeply human-centric.


By understanding the psychological principles that underpin human behavior, thought processes, and emotions, coaches can better facilitate transformative journeys, helping individuals bridge the gap between where they are and where they aspire to be.


Join us to learn the art of coaching and the core psychological principles behind coaching to transform people's life. Join GoMasterCoach!


GoMasterCoach isn't just another training provider. We're the game-changers. As the only ICF-Accredited Training Provider equipped with a groundbreaking digital coaching toolbox, Neurolinguistic Programming modules, and expert-led live sessions, we're redefining the coaching industry, and you're invited to be part of this revolution.

Join the GoMasterCoach community and supercharge your career with our ICF-accredited, 3-month program.

  • Free access to the Coaching Toolbox with 20+ of the top Coaching tools.

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  • Unlimited access to Group Mentoring sessions.

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  • A support before the Training and well after the Training: Free Support to help you Grow your Business (Branding, Website, Digital Marketing...).

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Geraldine Geraldine Gauthier is all about coaching and helping people find their sweet spot in life. She is passionate about taming those pesky inner critics and guiding individuals to design the careers they truly desire. Her expertise lies in coaching leaders, training coaches, and leading trainers. She is on a mission to amplify the ripple effect of coaching through her coaching school, gomastercoach.com, which is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). GMC also created a fantastic digital coaching toolbox to enhance the coaching experience. She had the privilege of supporting over 50 C-level clients, ranging from Series A startups to big multinational corporations. She also helped more than 200 coaches achieve their ICF certification and provided coaching, leadership, and wellbeing training to over 1000 executives from MNCs. Her clients have been instrumental inter growth, and she developed proven game-changing frameworks inspired by their feedback, research and neuroscience for leaders, coaches, and trainers.



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