Liz ScottWhat is the difference between traditional coaching and principles-based coaching? It’s a question that many coaches are asking themselves as they make the transition.  Liz Scott, has been coaching for over 10 years and has moved from a traditional model to a principles-based coach. She explores the differences.

What are the similarities between principles-based coaching and traditional coaching?

In both cases the principles-based coach and the traditional coach will work with a client who is feeling stuck or has a problem in their lives. The client wants to move forward and looks towards a coach to help them do this.

A principles-based coach and a traditional coach will usually provide an ‘intake’ session to assess what the client feels they are up against. They will both listen and ask questions to build rapport. They will both then discuss the best structure to support the client as they move forward. By structure I mean number of sessions, length of sessions and cost.

Up to this point both traditional and principles-based coaching are very similar. The key difference is in the next stage and with the kind of support that the coach provides. The coaching sessions have a different emphasis. Here’s a quick outline of the differences.

What is meant by ‘traditional coaching?’

The term coaching is used to describe a variety of interventions. Traditional coaching draws on psychological theories and models. Often a traditional coach will either have a specific expertise in one model (like NLP or Transactional analysis) or s/he will be a magpie of different approaches.

With traditional coaching a coach becomes a master/expert in their field and as they master their approach they share this with their client. When a client comes to coaching s/he will have an issue or problem. The coach’s role is to support the client by sharing models, tools or techniques.

In a traditional coaching session the coach will listen and ask questions encouraging the client to find answers to their issues and problems. They will draw on their expertise in psychological theories to offer the best tool to support the client. A client might be encouraged to get rid of limiting beliefs or to practice a strategy in order to progress.

Simply put, a traditional coach will metaphorically say; ‘Let me first understand your issue. Then either you’ll come up with answers or I’ll share my psychological  techniques for you to help you get rid of that problem.”

What is meant by principles-based coaching?

Principles-based coaching is rooted in the Three Principles as described by Sydney Banks (discover more about the Three Principles here). These Three Principles (the principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought) underpin the coach’s approach with their client. Unlike traditional coaching the Three Principles is not a mastery model. Principles-based coaching places the emphasis on embodied understanding rather than mastery.

The principles-based coach is working from one consistent, psychological map of the world. This ‘map’ describes how the human experience is only created from the ‘inside-out’. In other words WE are the generators of our experience 100% of the time. So what does principles-based coaching look like? Check out this coaching session with Jamie Smart and myself here.

Traditional coaching will often focus on changing beliefs, values or external circumstances. It sees the problem as ‘out there’ in the world or as a limiting belief that needs to be tackled.

The principles-based coach will show how we are always creating our experience from the ‘inside-out’. Although it looks like the world is causing us to feel a certain way, the truth is very different. Our feelings are pointing to our moment to moment psychological mind-state rather than a belief, a person or event. The coach’s role is to help educate the client in how they actually experience the world.

The coach also points the client to their own innate wisdom and wellbeing. It’s often useful for clients to realise there is nothing outside of them to do or change. It’s about them reconnecting to their inner space of clarity and seeing beyond the stormy clouds of thought.

As the client begins to see the truth and logic of this for him/herself then s/he spontaneously discovers clarity and fresh ideas and insights about moving forward. There is a spiritual dimension to this kind of coaching. It encourages the client to become curious about his/her true self and the spiritual/psyche/soul element of being human.

Metaphorically speaking the principles-based coach will say, “Let me understand your problem/issue. Let me explain how you’re generating/creating your experience and let’s see how it looks now you understand this.”

With this kind of approach the client invariably will say something like, “Nothing has changed and yet everything is different.” If you’d like to see how the 3Ps is being used in business then this talk by Piers Thurston will be helpful.

In Summary

I (Liz) have been a traditional-coach since 2004 and as well as delivering coaching I have trained coaches for many years. My coaching has completely shifted over the past two years as my understanding of the Three Principles has deepened. The impact on my personal life has been profound. I feel like I’m plugged back into the ‘mains’. Life has more ease, joy and meaning than ever before. Whilst traditional coaching provided valuable support for my clients, I find that my coaching has become enriched to a deeper level thanks to the 3Ps. If you’d like to learn more about this kind of coaching then take a look at Ian Watson introducing the Three Principles.

About Liz Scott & Stuart Newberry

Liz Scott & Stu Newberry are Coaching Skills trainers and 3P practitioners. They help develop coaching cultures within schools and organisations. Liz & Stu use their understanding of the 3Ps within their training and are experiencing great successes and results in the organisations they are working in. Download an Introduction to the Three Principles here. Find out more about Liz & Stu at Liz Scott Coaching and Training