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John's Coaching Glossary

Absolutes (Generalisation)

A common form of generalisation (cognitive distortion), using words such as never, always, everyone, all etc., which are absolute and exagerate the reality of a situation to leave no room for alternative possibilities, views or ways of being e.g." He always thinks of himself first" or "people like us never get anywhere in life"

Action Plan

After establishing goals, I often work with my client to create an action plan. This can be helpful in mapping achievable steps to reach the goals and to monitor progress. Importantly it also helps keep each coaching session focused and congruent.


Compared to other forms of talking therapy, coaching is very focused on 'solutions' and taking action

Active Listening

The ability to focus completely on a speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information and respond thoughtfully to what they say rather than the listener just waiting for an opportunity to say what they want to say! In coaching, active listening has the powerful effect on the coachee of them 'feeling heard'. I'm trained to use learning-centred listening, to recognise what the coachee needs to talk and learn about. I use reflection and clarification techniques to ensure that I not only gain an understanding from what you say, but that I actually understand what you mean and that my active listening contributes to your own process of meaning-making as you speak.


Guidance or recommendations offered with regard to optimal future action. People are often surprised to learn that coaching is non-advisory meaning that I do not tell my clients what they should do. Coaching is about empowering you to be self-sufficient and to develop self-confidence and personal responsibility for your own life. In some aspects of business coaching and relationship coaching I may also include mentoring on certain topics where I share useful techniques or knowledge, which you may use if useful to you.

Ah-ha moment

A moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension. These shifts in how you see yourself, a situation or the world can be quite transformational and may happen during a coaching session or between sessions as a result of the coaching conversation, a particular question, something unexpected that you said, a coaching technique or exercise.


The feeling you have no connection with the environment or people around you. Symptoms can include feelings of distance, including from your own emotions; feeling different or separate from everyone else; feeling left out in conversations; feeling that a friendship, relationship, work or even the world in general is meaningless. There are a number of different causes, including feeling estranged from what you produce in the workplace.

Ambiguous Subject (Deletion)

A statement where the coachee fails to specify the subject of the verb may mask a form of cognitive distortion e.g. "They all do it" prompting questions such as "who are they" "Is it really true that all of them do that thing?"


A feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone experiences anxiety at times, for example just before a job interview, which is perfectly normal. Some people experience anxiety much more frequently and find it difficult to manage their worries so that anxiety affects their daily life. Coaching can help you to cope with and reduce anxiety or to find appropriate help to do so.

Associate Certified Coach (ACC)

The first level of certification achievable through the International Coach Federation (ICF). To acquire the ACC level, Coaches must have completed an ICF Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP), more than 100 hours of coaching experience and must pass a written exam

Association for Coaching (AC)

The Association for Coaching (AC) was established in 2002 and is one of the leading professional bodies dedicated to promoting best coaching practice worldwide.

Assumption (Distortion)

A common cognitive distortion whereby you accept something as true or certain to happen, without proof. As a coach I'm trained to spot assumptions and other distortions in your thinking so that we can challenge, question and test them together. By improving your understanding and awareness of your situation without distortion, you are more able to make the right decisions and actions to get what you want.


The quality of being genuine, not a copy, and of undisputed origin. In coaching authenticity is about self-knowledge so that your choices, actions, behaviour and communication align to your values and essential character. Often, people are motivated to seek coaching for a presenting issue that has inauthenticity at its roots. Being authentic does not mean simply being yourself in every context, but it does mean being consistent in word and deed and having the same fundamental character and values in different roles.


Knowledge, understanding or perception of something. An important aspect of coaching is exploring the coachee's awareness levels on each aspect of the issues discussed, including other perspectives and most importantly, self awareness (own behaviour, communication, life choices, needs, habits, opportunities, values, motivations etc). Awareness enables us to live deliberately,with conscious decisions, rather than reacting automatically from habitbased on social conditioning.

Baby Boomer

A person born in the years following the Second World War (1946-64), when there was a large increase in the birth rate.


The way in which a person acts in response to a particular situation or stimulus

Blaming (Distortion)

Another common cognitive distortion, blaming someone else for something that is not (wholly) their fault is about avoiding personal responsibility. Likewise blaming oneself when others share responsibility is a form of distortion. Often people blame others for 'making them feel bad' when in fact it how the recipient chooses to interpret something that governs how he or she will feel.

Board Certified Coach (BCC)

An alternative to the International Coach Federation's credentialing programme.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines burnout as a syndrome that arises from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It's caused by cumulative work stress and negative life events, and combines emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation (feeling deteched from your job) and a lack of personal accomplishment. One sign of burnout is a change in your response to stressful events.

Business Adviser

A consultant who helps business owners or management to solve their business problems.

Business Coaching

A broad term for coaching someone in business, whether starting a new business for the first time or experienced owners who benefit from the coaching process. Business coaching may include aspects of mentoring with the coach sharing tools, strategies and their own expertise and experience for managing particular issues. Many people who start with business coaching also progress to discuss other aspects of their life, such as relationships or health.

Business Consultant

Consulting, like Coaching, is solution-focused but arrives at the solution differently. A business may work with a consultant as an specialist who can provide expertise not present within the business to solve a particular issue or answer a strategic question. This differs to coaching which seeks to work with the client in a process that supports the coachee to reach his or her own decision or conclusion.

Business Mentor

An experienced business person who supports someone less experienced in business to develop their skills, performance and potential. The mentor draws on his or her own experience and knowledge and applies this to the mentee's situation, ideally transferring knowledge, skills and experience to the mentee.

Career Coaching

The goal of career coaching is to empower professionals to make better decisions about their career trajectory. It's a solution-based approach to career decisions and may include professional development, career goals, workplace dilemmas and salary negotiations. The coach may offer expertise related to modern recruitment practices and positioning (personal branding).

Catastrophisation (Distortion)

A common form of cognitive distortion whereby things are assumed to be completely ruined or unsolvable or where inevitable disaster is expected. This is also known as 'magnifying' whereby someone exaggerates the importance of insignificant events (such as their mistake, or someone else’s achievement) so as to imagine the worst possible outcome rendering any possible purposeful effort pointless.

Change Fallacy (Distortion)

A common form of cognitive distortion whereby a person expects that other people should change to suit them, and will do if they just pressure or cajole them enough. Often they will equate a failure to change as meaning that the other person doesn't care about them or their preferences without considering that the other person might want or need something different.

Chunking (goals)

A process for achieving big goals by 'chunking' them down into smaller more achievable 'chunks'. These are usually either actionable steps (input) e.g. write a 100-word outline of my book's narrative; time (input) e.g. spend an hour every day writing; or quantity (output) e.g. write 500 words every day before breakfast.


The coach repeats the client's words back to them, but in a different form (not the same words). Clarifying can help a coach to increase trust by actively showing they have listened and care about understanding the coachee's intended meaning. As a Coach it's a way I can check that I’ve fully understood my client and, more importantly, that he or she is clear about what they meant. It helps me to ask the most appropriate follow-up questions and may offer the possibility to reframe how they think about something. It can also be a chance to intervene and move the conversation forward if the client is beginning to ramble! See also, 'Reflection'.


One of the core aims of coaching is to help the client to achieve clarity. Often a coach's question, reflection, provocation or challenge will be motivated by a desire to help the client to be clear about what they believe, think and want to express rather than by the coach's own need to understand what is being said.


In coaching terms clarity is about moving from confusion and complexity to coherence, simplicity and understanding. It may relate to the coachee's state of mind in general or to a particular idea, situation or behaviour that they want to express, explain or understand.


The person working with a coach is called a client or coachee. The client may be different to the sponsor (the person or organisation paying the bill).


Unnecessary elements which inhibit productivity and well-being. Clutter can be emotional, environmental, financial, physical, spiritual, strategic and temporal. Any type of clutter can affect energy, focus, success and wellbeing.


A trained professional who uses a conversation-based approach to help someone to move from where they are to where they want to be. Coaching is a non-regulated profession so some people who advertise themselves as a coach have not completed any accredited training


The person working with a coach is called a coachee, or client.  The coacheet may be different to the sponsor (the person or organisation paying the bill).


ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaching is a client-driven process that’s distinct from other service professions, such as counseling, mentoring, consulting and training. As your coach, I work with you to understand yourself and your circumstances better,  identify what you want personally and professionally, and support you in achieving a life that you really want and love.


The use of conscious mental processes, such as memory or thinking. In coaching we may talk about cognition as the process that creates meaning from the information gathered by your senses, gives rise to your feelings. Daniel Kahneman popularised the idea of two types of thought (fast and slow/frugal).


Relating to Cognition

Cognitive Behavioural Coaching (CBC)

Cognitive Behavioural Coaching (CBC) borrows tools from CBT Therapy and applies them to non-clinical situations. These techniques assume that our behaviour results from how we interpret things (our cognition) rather than as a result of the things themselves. A CBC approach might therefore identify an unhelpful interpretation to a stimulus rather than focusing on only the cause or the outcome.

Cognitive Dissonance

A difference between your experiences or behaviour and your beliefs about what is true. The result may be an uncomfortable feeling where you think two things at the same time that are mutually exclusive often leading either to a distortion of reality in favour of your belief or a change in your belief to match reality.

Cognitive Distortion

Popularised by Aaron Beck and David Burns, Cognitive Distortions are ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true, often reinforcing negative thoughts and emotions. Awareness of these distortions and learning to identify them correctly allows a coachee to rebut negative thoughts and over time to reduce the amount of negative thinking.
Blog articles:

Cognitive Distortions: why you shouldn't believe everything you think

The 15 Most Common Cognitive Distortions

Compound Questions

Compound questions are multiple questions asked as one long question, leaving the coachee confused about which of the questions they should answer first. As such, professional coaches try their best to avoid compound questions.


Confidentiality is one of the core principles of my coaching, except where a client gives me express permission to share any of our conversation. All of my clients know that they can discuss anything openly without fear of third parties knowing (except where law-breaking is planned or the client's safety may be at risk). Where a third-party sponsor, such as an employer, is paying for the coaching, we will agree clear and transparent boundaries before any coaching begins.

Conflict Management

A process for drawing out positive aspects of conflict while reducing any negative aspects. It aims to enhance learning and outcomes for the group and/or individuals, including effectiveness or performance in an organisational setting.

Constructive Feedback Model

A tool designed to help give and receive constructive feedback in an understanding and effective way. The Model gives a method of communication to relay feedback that encourages positive behavioral change. The Model is designed to create open communication in business and personal relationships.

Control Fallacy (Distortion)

A common form of cognitive distortion, there are two main types of control fallacy (otherwise known as cause-effect fallacy): External Control is where someone believes they are not responsible for the outcomes in their life and assign responsibility to a third person e.g.("he made me angry"). Internal Control is where someone assumes responsibility for the positive and negative events that happen to the people around them.


Counselling is a talking therapy that can help with a range of mental and emotional problems, including stress, anxiety and depression. Where coaching is future-focused (looking to the past only to inform the future) and may relate to positive or negative issues, counselling usually focuses on the past and deals with problems, usually of an emotional nature.

Couples Coaching

Couples coaching is relationship coaching that specifically helps couples to overcome difficulties and create or re-create a strong bond, healthy communication and a clear shared vision for their relationship.

Dating Coaching

This mixes coaching techniques with some mentoring to help the coachee to improve their dating outcomes. A dating coach will understand that people may be single for lots of different reasons, including through choice. The approach therefore starts from the coachee's desired outcomes, which may include more novel forms of relationship status right through to a conventional aspiration for marriage and family. The coaching may involve self-exploration to understand any habits, patterns, unhelpful beliefs or barriers. The coach may help the coachee to explore the who, where, when, why and how of dating and to test new techniques and strategies for dating and building successful relationships.

See also Singles Coaching.


A point of time in the future by which an action or goal must be achieved. A key aspect of successful goal setting is setting realistic but challenging deadlines that create motivation, momentum and confidence.

See also Time Bound

Defined Choices (Deletion)

A common form of deletion (cognitive distortion), whereby someone presents a decision with unnecessarily limited options, either because they won't allowthose other options for some reason, believe them to be in some way impossible or simply can't envisage them e.g. "I have to stick at my job. That's my only option", prompting questions from a coach such as "If you had other options what might they be?" or "What might you prefer to do if there were other options?” or "What else might be possible?"

Deletions (Distortion)

A deletion is a pattern of speech known as a cognitive distortion, where what someone says may indicate that the way they are thinking about their experience in the world is in some way deleting or ignoring an aspect of it. We all do this to some extent and use patterns in our language and thought to avoid always having to assess every situation afresh. A coach may want a coachee to recognise the deletion and explore whether that particular pattern is unhelpful or holding them back.


A state in which one's thoughts, feelings and even one's body and voice seem unreal or not to belong to oneself. Mild depersonalisation is relatively common and is thought to be a way that the body protect's the self during periods of extreme stress/ fatigue. The chronic form is Depersonalisation/ Derealisation Disorder (DPRD).

Development Coaching

A Developmental Coach broadens the coaching to explore what learning the client takes from the coaching and the change that takes place. The fundamental intention is to create learning from action.


States of feeling that result in physical and psychological changes that influence our behavior. Some theories state that emotions facilitate adaptive responses to environmental challenges and opportunities and some believe that cognition (judgements, evaluations or thoughts) are a factor in causing a particular emotion. Emotions appear to play a role in learning and memory formation.

Emotional Reasoning (Distortion)

Another common form of cognitive distortion, emotional reasoning is when someone believes that what they feel must be true. For example, if they feel stupid then that means they must be stupid even if there is plenty of evidence to show that they have above average intelligence.


Someone who sets up a business or businesses. Unlike a Freelancer, an entrepreneur typically identifies a need and then hires other people to meet those needs, creating something bigger than himself that earns money even when he or she is not working.  See also, 'business owner' and 'freelancer'

Equalling (Distortion)

A common form of cognitive distortion, where two things are linked together as meaning the same e.g. "you shouted at me; (which means) you don't love me"

Ethics (Coaching)

Professional coaches adhere to a recognised code of ethics. The two most common examples are the ICF Code of Ethics and the Global Code of Ethics for Coaches, Mentors and Supervisors (aligned to the Professional Charter for Coaching and Mentoring). These codes set the expectation of best practice in coaching to ensure that professional coaches deliver high levels of service, always acting in the best interests of the people we coach.

Executive Coaching

A process to help individuals to become more aware of how they function as a business executive and human being within their corporate context, and to develop the skills and acumen needed to succeed as business professionals at the executive level. Focuses on interpersonal skills, team management, coping with work stresses, striking a good work-life balance and developing leadership abilities.

Existential Coaching

Existential coaching is a uniquely philosophical and deeply relational way of examining the paradoxes and challenges of human existence so as to empower clients to move forward in an authentic and reflective way. Existential coaching encourages clients to look at issues such as meaning, authenticity, freedom, choice and responsibility, and how these come into play in their lives.

Fairness Fallacy (Distortion)

A common form of cognitive distortion whereby an individual may feel resentful because they have an absolute idea of what is fair, and expect their encounters with the world either to follow that sense of fairness or for there to be some sort of amends or compensation when something 'unfair' happens. Unfortunately different people have different ideas of what is fair so other people won’t always agree with them, and more importantly life is not fair.

Filtering (Distortion)

A common form of cognitive distortion, an individual engaged in filtering magnifies negative details while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation.

Financial Coaching

A conversation-based approach to moving someone from their current financial situation to where they want to be without providing financial advice. Instead the coaching will focus on identifying SMART financial goals, exploring and improving the coachee's money mindset, financial literacy and money skills, while also supporting them to develop and adhere to positive financial behaviors. The coaching will likely explore subjects such as budgeting, communicating about money, increasing income, cutting costs, saving and investing, including the psychological aspects of each of these.

Focus Session

A productivity tool that I use with my clients, which I derived from the Pomodoro technique. It helps clients to overcome distractions and procrastination, identifies any barriers holding them back and enables rapid progress towards even the most challenging of goals.

Fortune-telling (Distortion)

A common form of cognitive distortion, whereby a person believes their entire future is pre-ordained (whether it be in studies, health, career, sport or romantic relationships) and usually with negative expectations e.g. "I know I'm going to die young"

(The) Four Tendencies

A personality framework popularised by the book of the same name by Gretchen Rubin. The framework divides people into one of four categories: Rebel, Questioner, Upholder or Obliger.


A person who is self-employed and is not necessarily committed to a particular employer long-term. Unlike entrepreneurs, freelancers are typically specialists in the work they do and are paid money only for the work they themselves do. See also, 'Business Owner' and 'Entrepreneur'


Where therapy is often about looking backwards to heal aspects of your past, Coaching supports you in shifting your focus and aligning your actions, thoughts, emotions and beliefs with an inspiring future.

Future Pacing (Coaching Technique)

A technique where the client is asked to imagine themself in the future in a situation, which brings to life a goal, topic, problem, challenge, or limititation that they want to address. The technique allows the coachee to experience this future situation and 'look back' at what they 'needed to do' to get there; check whether a goal is really what they want and recognise when it has been achieved; or rehearse the future situation as a form of preparation. It can help with planning, decision-making, motivation and also help to test whether more work is needed to prepare for such scenarios.

Generalisations (Distortion)

A generalisation is a pattern of speech known as a cognitive distortion, where what someone says may indicate that the way they are thinking about their experience in the world is in some way generalising an aspect of it. We all do this to some extent and use patterns in our language and thought to avoid always having to assess every situation afresh. A coach may want a coachee to recognise the generalisation and explore whether that particular pattern is unhelpful or holding them back.

Generation X

The generation born after the Baby Boomers (roughly 1965-1979)

Generation Y

Generation Y, otherwise known as Millenials, sit between Generation X and Z (born roughly 1980 - late 1990s)

Gen Z

Generation Z (or 'Zoomers') were born between 1996 and 2010 and are the first truly 'digital native' generation. Stereotyped as more responsible, career-focused, stressed and entrepreneurial than millenials.


An idea of the future or a desired result that a person or a group of people envisions, plans and commits to achieve. Identifying and setting clear goals is at the heart of coaching. As Stephen Covey wrote in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, "Begin with the End in Mind" (see Goal Setting, SMART Goals, Input Goals and Output Goals)

Goal Setting

The process of envisaging, planning and comitting to achieve a desired future input or outcome. As a coach I often dedicate significant time to ensuring that my clients have SMART goals that are congruent to who they are rather than what they think they should want. We also take time to check that each goal excites and motivates them. I differentiate between input goals and output goals and help to break each goal down into smaller objectives or stepping stones and check for any reasons why my clients may not be able to achieve the goals they have set.

Group Coaching

Different to Team Coaching, Group Coaching brings together a group of individuals to share their challenges, ideas and wisdom with the other participants. The coach may either adopt a traditional coaching role or much more of a facilitative role managing the group dynamics and ensuring a safe and respectful space for everyone. The demand for group coaching is growing exponentially, because participants and sponsors find it to be time and cost-effective, transformative for the group, and highly effective. It can also be great fun and rewarding for the coach.

GROW (Coaching Model)

Originally developed in the 1980s by business coaches Graham Alexander, Alan Fine, and Sir John Whitmore, GROW is a simple but highly effective framework for achieving a goal and probably the most common model for structuring coaching. GROW stands for:
Goal - see Goal Setting
Reality (current situation) - see Awareness
Options (and Obstacles) - see Options
Will (or Way Forward) - see Motivation


An automatic reaction to a specific situation or a regular tendency, practice or way of doing things, especially one that is hard to give up. Coaching often explores habits to enable the coachee to understand any unhelpful practices and change them to achieve desired outcomes.

Habit Trigger

Habit Triggers (also known as Habit Cues) are an important aspect of forming new habits (or breaking old ones). A Trigger is a stimulus that provokes an automatic urge in the brain to think or do  something, also known as a habit. The six (6) main categories of types of trigger are: Temporal (time), Spatial (location), Sequential, Emotional, Sensory and Interpersonal.

For maximum efficacy, triggers should be specific and immediate.


Health refers to the overall well-being of a person, community or business. A measure of how well one can endure and develop mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Encompasses the whole person or community, inside and out.

Health Coaching

Helping the client to gain the knowledge, skills, tools and confidence to become active participants in their care and wellbeing so that they can reach their self-identified health goals.

Heaven’s Reward Fallacy (Distortion)

This common cognitive distortion is the false belief that sacrifice and self-denial will eventually pay off with some kind of reward, as if some global force is keeping score. This is a variation on the fairness fallacy,where sacrifice should be recognised and rewarded. As with the fairness fallacy, bitterness, a sense of injustice and resentment are more likely outcomes.

Hypothetical Questions

These ‘what if’ questions create an alternative reality or future possibility, and are extremely useful in coaching. This may allow a client to explore something out of context and therefore come to a conclusion unencumbered by the complex specifics or connotations of the situation and instead focus on a more generalised judgement. The clarity brought about by the hypothetical question could be crucial in developing a decision.

Imperatives (generalisation)

These common forms of generalisation (cognitive distortion) include words such as should, shouldn't and must and beg the question 'says who?'. People who have internalised such rules may become annoyed when someone else does something they 'should not' and may feel guilty if they themselves don't do something they 'should do'.

Input Goals

Future actions, behaviours or practices that an individual commits to in order to get what they want (their outcome goal). Input goals may relate to a clearly stated output goal (e.g. write 500 words a day to eventually have written a 80,000-word 1st draft novel) or to a more general goal (e.g. become a vegetarian to reduce the risk of heart disease).

International Coach Federation (ICF)

The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the world’s largest organization of professionally trained coaches. It runs the only globally recognized, independent credentialing program for coach practitioners and also accredits programs that deliver high-quality training courses to become a coach, aligned to the ICF Core Competencies and Code of Ethics (including the centre where I completed my training).

Inward Reflection (coaching)

Time taken to process thoughts, memories, new ideas and emotions. Coaching can involve deep and transformational conversations that cause the coachee to experience intense emotions and confront new or difficult ideas and memories. At times, the coachee may benefit from a period of reflective silence to process what has come up in conversation or internally and to put their thoughts or emotions in order before resuming the coaching conversation, perhaps with greater clarity as a result of the internal reflection.

Job-search Coaching

Combining coaching and mentoring to optimise the coachee's job search.

In my coaching I provide support for any psychological or social strains as well as up-to-date knowledge and techniques to find the most appropriate roles and create winning applications. I help my clients to improve their networking and interview techniques and ensures the strongest possible negotiation for pay and benefits.

I include 'Job-search Coaching' as part of my broader 'WORK' category and offer specialisms in 'Career Coaching' and 'Resumé and Interview Preparation'

Leadership Coaching

An individualized process that builds a leader or potential leader's self-awareness, leadership style and capability to achieve short- and long-term organizational goals. The coaching helps the individual to differentiate between concepts of management and leadership, clarify goals, achieve their development objectives, unlock their potential, and act as a sounding board to others. Coaching is personalized, customized, usually conducted one-on-one for a defined period oftime and with a specific business purpose in mind, and may also use specific work situations that arise as an opportunity to explore and learn new leadership approaches.

Leading Questions

Questions that prompt or encourage the answer wanted. These are absolutely avoided by professional coaches as they do not create client learning and instead 'lead' the client down a one-way path to agreeing with the coach or, potentially, into a conflict where the client feels attacked, judged or lacking real choice in their response.

Lean Canvas

A 1-page business plan template created by Ash Maurya that helps you deconstruct your idea into its key assumptions. It is adapted from Alex Osterwalder's Business Model Canvas and optimized for Lean Startups. It replaces elaborate business plans with a single page business model.

Life Coaching

Coaching is a conversation-based approach to moving someone from where they are to where they want to be. Life Coaching is an imperfect and generic term for coaching that supports the coachee in any and every aspect of their lived experience, whether practical issues, decisions, emotional states, behavioural change, personal development and existential questions.

In my own practice I differentiate between 'Life' coaching and the coaching I offer relating to 'Work' and 'Relationships'. This separation is never as clear cut as it sounds, but life coaching loosely covers: 1. life goals, purpose and meaning; 2.physical health; 3. emotional and mental wellbeing; 4. money and finances; 5. knowing and liking yourself; and 6. Life changes, decisions and dilemmas.

Limiting Belief

A false belief that a person acquires as a result of making an incorrect conclusion about something in life. Limiting beliefs constrain us in some way so that just by believing them, we do not think, do or say the things that they inhibit.

In this way, a limiting belief will impoverish our life. We may have beliefs about rights, duties, abilities, permissions and so on. Limiting beliefs are often about our 'selves' and our self-identity. The beliefs may also be about other people and the world in general. They often involve statements that start with I do/don't.. I can't.. I must/must not.. I am/ am not.. or a variation where I is replaced with another subject.

As a coach, I identify and challenge limiting beliefs with my clients, helping them to recognise and replace them with alternatives that open up new ways of thinking and being.

Management Consultant

Largely synonymous with business consultant, but may more often work with senior management of large businesses rather than business owners. Consulting, like Coaching, is solution-focused but arrives at the solution differently. A business may work with a consultant as an specialist who can provide expertise not present within the business to solve a particular issue or answer a strategic question. This differs to coaching which seeks to work with the client in a process that supports the coachee to reach his or her own decision or conclusion.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

A motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid, where needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization.

Maximiser Mindset

A maximiser mindset is an attitude that generally seeks the best possible outcome (the maximum). It can be very helpful in scenarios where a successful outcome is linked to the quality of a specific output, but there may also be negative trade-offs associated with the pursuit of this maximum. It is closely associated with perfectionism and the idea that nothing less than perfect will do.

In decision-making, maximisers will seek to make a decision that maximises their outcomes later and so will give considerable weight to decisions. Contrast this with Satisficer Mindset.

See also Perfectionism.


Maximiser vs Satisficer Mindset: don't let the best become the enemy of the good


A key concept in coaching, the ability to measure progress and change helps with accountability, motivation and confidence.

As a coach I use SMART goal-setting with my clients where the M stands for Measurable. A SMART goal must therefore include a way of measuring progress and completion.

See SMART Goals


An experienced and trusted adviser, a mentor will have skills, knowledge and experience in a particular industry or specialism that can be shared with the mentee. The mentor draws on his or her own experience and knowledge and applies this to the mentee's situation, ideally transferring knowledge, skills and experience to the mentee.

Mind Reading (Distortion)

Also known as jumping to conclusions, mind reading is a common cognitive distortion whereby someone believes that he or she knows what another person is thinking or feeling and the reasons why they behave or have behaved in a certain way. Often people feel sure that they know conclusively what someone else thinks or feels about them or their behaviour.


A mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting without judgement one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique to reduce stress, boost health and increase focus.

Mislabeling (Distortion)

Also known as Global Labeling, this common form of cognitive distortion is where someone generalises one or two qualities or events into a negative universal judgment about themself or another person, rather than seeing the wider context, and then apply that negative label as if there is incontrovertible evidence for it e.g. "he's a narcissist". A more subtle form is where the judgement is hidden in extreme language e.g. She 'abandons' her kids to an au pair.

Money Coaching

Combines coaching principles with practical financial mentoring to help people transform their relationship with money. Money coaching will address practical elements of managing your money alongside less tangible elements such as your money mindset and any limiting beliefs you may hold about money. In my own coaching practice, I have developed a process for identifying the unconscious beliefs and patterns that create stress, anxiety and fear and helping my clints to develop a neutral mindset that views money as a resource to secure the things they care about.


An internal process that makes a person move toward a goal, motivation is therefore a key focus of coaching.There are three main types of motivation: amotivation (absence of motivation), extrinsic motivation (driven by external rewards such as money, fame, grades, and praise) and intrinsic motivation (driven by internal rewards stemming from the activity itself). Motivation can also be classified as positive (satisfaction, reward etc) or negative (fear, shame etc)

Narrative Coaching

Helps people to examine the stories they carry about themselves, others, and life itself and re-shape them where helpful to create new possibilities and new results.

I also use narrative as a way for my clients to examine a scenario or experience in an abstracted way. Narrative coaching starts from the premise that how we see ourselves and our world is constructed from the meaning we assign to our experiences - the stories we tell ourselves are not necessarily 'true'.

(The) Need always to be right (Distortion)

A very common form of cognitive distortion, for some people being wrong is not an option and being right is important to their sense of self. As such, they will constantly provoke debates and disagreements and go to any lengths to be able to 'win' arguments or prove that their view of the world or way of doing things is the right one. Being right often is more important than the feelings of others, including loved ones.

Non-advisory (Coaching is)

Also called a non-directive approach, a professional coach will not give advice, guidance, direction, approval or disapproval and instead allows the coachee to formulate their own solutions, decisions and actions as a result of skilled listening and questioning from the coach.

Coaching is premised on the idea that Coach and Coachee are on the same level rather than in a hierarchy and the coachee is in a better position to identify the best solution for his or her circumstances. This approach is empowering and avoids the risk of dependency or reinforcing any sense the coachee may have of being incapable. In my experience people are also more likely to commit to and complete actions they themselves thought of. 

(SMART) Objective-setting

Similar to SMART goals, SMART Objectives are about maximising performance, responsibility and accountability in the workplace. Good objective-setting is key to driving performance and yet very few people are ever taught how to set objectives properly, whether their own objectives or the objectives of the people they manage.

In my coaching, I work with clients on how to set SMART objectives that are input- and output-based.

Omitted Information (Deletion)

A statement where essential information is missing is a form of cognitive deletion where the missing information may be something a coach would want to explore with the coachee e.g. "I'm really angry", prompting the question "about what specifically?"

Online coaching

Most coaching takes place in person, but coaching by video call (using Skype, Zoom, Hangouts or even WhatsApp or Messenger) or audio call is highly effective and often more convenient.

Clients report that they feel more at ease and comfortable in their own environment and can fit coaching into their schedules without additional travel time. It also means that anyone in the world can have a British life coach like me!

I built my business to use video calls from when I started in 2016 and have worked with clients all over the world.

See my Reviews to get a flavour of the geographical diversity of my clients.


Alternative courses of action. A key aspect of coaching is helping the coachee to examine and choose between different courses of action, including opening up new ways of thinking and new paths that were either previously dismissed or unseen. In the classic 'GROW' coaching model, the O stands for Options (as well as Obstacles).


Outcome Goals

A future outcome or result that a person or group of people commit to cause to happen. Outcome/Output goals are not always the most appropriate form of goal to set, particularly where external factors out of your control may have a significant influence over whether you can achieve the goal or not, but fundamentally the outcome is what goal-setting is usually about. In most circumstances, input goals will be a useful addition to any output goals you may have.

See Input Goals and SMART Goals.


A common form of Cognitive Distortion, overgeneralisation is when an individual comes to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence. One or two bad events are framed as part of an inevitable pattern or truth about them, certain other groups or the world.


The transient state of feeling overwhelmed. Overwhelm as a noun has enter common usage, which perhaps gives the sensation more inertia, identity and permanency than it deserves. If you're feeling overwhelmed, there are plenty of ways to regain your feelings of capacity and control and coaching is a great first step.

Paradox of Choice

Popularised by Barry Schwartz in his book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, the paradox states that although happiness depends on freedom and autonomy, which in turn require choice, too many options can actually lead to anxiety, indecision, paralysis and importantly, dissatisfaction.

Performance Coaching

A solution-focused process whereby the coach facilitates the development and action planning of their client, to help the client towards agreed outcomes and to achieve this more efficiently and effectively than if the client didn’t work with the coach. Like all coaching, it does not involve the coach giving advice or sharing their experience or opinions.

Person-centred Coaching

Coaching based on the person-centred approach developed from the work of the psychologist Dr. Carl Rogers whose ideas were considered radical when first proposed. Rogers discarded the idea that the therapist was the expert and proposed a theory that trusted the innate tendency (known as the actualising tendency) of human beings to find fulfilment of their personal potentials. Rogers theorised that this actualising tendency would emerge in the right psychological environment, where the client feels safe, having formed a trusted relationship with someone deeply understanding (empathic), accepting (having unconditional positive regard) and genuine (congruent).

Personal Development

The growth or enhancement of abilities, skills and self-awareness.

Personalisation (Distortion)

A common form of cognitive distortion, whereby a person believes that everything others do or say is some kind of direct, personal reaction to them. They take virtually everything personally, even when something not about them at all. A person who experiences this kind of thinking will also compare themselves to others, trying to determine who is smarter, more successful, etc. They may also believe that they are responsible for negative events that they did not cause.

Phone Coaching

A form of remote coaching that takes place over the phone rather than in person, phone coaching (audio-only coaching) has largely been replaced by internet or video coaching. Remote Coaching is time effective, and can allow the coachee to feel more relaxed in a comfortable environment. Audio-only coaching can allow the coach and coachee to hear subtleties of language that are less obvious when communicated in person.

I occasionally use audio-only coaching, but usually only where requested by the client.

Polarised Thinking

Also known as 'All or Nothing' or 'Black and White' thinking, polarised thinking is a common form of cognitive distortion whereby an individual sees things only in extremes with no nuance or shades of grey e.g. 'people are either with me or against me'

Positive Psychology

The scientific study of optimal human functioning that aims to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals and communities to thrive. It operates at three levels: the subjective, the individual and the communal.

Possibility (Generalisation)

A common form of generalisation (cognitive distortion), using words such as can't, can, may, impossible etc., which limit possibility e.g. "I can't work for myself", prompting a coach to ask questions such as “How do you know you can’t?”, “What would happen if you could?” and “Who says you can’t?”

Presenting Issue (coaching)

The issue that prompts a person to seek coaching is known as the presenting problem or issue. Other issues may emerge later as additional topics to discuss or may even replace the presenting issue as the main focus of your work with a coach.

Professional Certified Coach (PCC)

The second highest certification bestowed by the International Coach Federation. To acquire the PCC level, Coaches must have 125+ hours of coach-specific training and 500+ hours of coaching experience and must pass a written and oral exam.


A medical practitioner specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. In many countries, psychiatrists can prescribe medicines and drugs. They often combine a broad caseload alongside a specialist area of expertise and research.


An expert or specialist in psychology. Psychologists study the mind and emotions and their relationship to behaviour. Most psychologists adopt a sub-speciality, such as clinical-, sports-, child-, educational- and counselling-psychologist. Often psychological professions are regulated by statute and require advanced study before clinical practice.


Relating to theories and techniques of psychological measurement, focusing on objective measurement of skills and knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits, and educational achievement. Psychometric tests are widely used to assess individuals as part of coaching, personal development and most commonly, to assess candidates' suitability for a particular job role or course of study.


The scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behaviour in a given context


A person who treats psychological problems using a form of Psychotherapy.


Forms of talking therapy conducted with individuals, groups, couples and families. Psychotherapy may help people to overcome stress, emotional and relationship problems or troublesome habits. Different approaches within psychotherapy include cognitive behavioural therapy, psychoanalysis, psychodynamic therapies among others.

Purpose (coaching)

In coaching 'Purpose' most commonly relates to the existential question of 'life purpose' but may also relate to perceived extent that a particular activity or endeavour has meaning and is worth completing. It feels natural for humans to seek purpose and having a clear purpose in any context can help us to filter between what matters and what should be ignored so that we can reach our goals.


One of the coach's key responsibilities is to ensure that each coaching session is purposeful, that is to say that the session has a defined purpose, which differentiates it from a 'friendly chat'. The client sets the agenda by defining the issue they want to work on and how they want to work on it and the coach may provide structure or intervention to ensure the session is effective and remains focused. That said, some sessions can be unstructured and wide-ranging as the Coach gives the Client space to explore seemingly unconnected feelings, thoughts and ideas, which may eventually come together.

Qualified Coach

Coaching is currently an unregulated industry, which means that anyone can call themselves a coach and begin practice without completing any training. The term 'Qualified Coach' implies that the coach is a professional who has undergone relevant training accredited by one of the major recognised coach credentialing programmes, such as the International Coach federation (ICF) or the Association for Coaches (AC)

Questions (open and closed)

Asking good questions is at the heart of a professional coach's training. Coaches try to avoid 'closed questions' that limit the coachee's potential answers (e.g. yes, no, I don't know or a specific fact) and leading questions (where the questioner is actually using a question to express what he or she believes or plant an idea in the other person's head. Instead a coach will try to use 'open questions, particularly those that provoke the coachee to think or learn (Most often 'How? Why? What? rather than Where? When? Who?). Why? can be a powerful question but if used carelessly can sound accusatory.

Reflection (Coaching Technique)

The coach repeats the words of the client back to them in exactly the same form. This demonstrates to the coachee they have been heard and builds trust that the coach wants to understand them. It also allows the coachee to hear their own words back to them, enabling them to notice a new meaning in what they said, rethink their words, take a different perspective and build on what they said with additional thoughts. See also Clarification.

Relationship Coaching

A future- and solutions-focused approach to improving personal and business relationships and achieving relationship goals. While relationship coaches might be experts in relationships, as coaches they facilitate success for the client without providing advice and instead act as a catalyst for the coachee to find the solutions that work best for them.

Relationship coaching may include Singles / Dating Coaching, Couples Coaching, Business Relationships Coaching, Friendship Coaching and Family Coaching. I also offer specialist coaching for surviving a long-distance relationship (LDR), saving a relationship in crisis and dealing with loneliness.

Relationships are one of my three core areas of focus - read more on my RELATIONSHIPS page

Retirement Coaching

A process for exploring the major life changes, new identity and exciting opportunities associated with stopping full-time work, retirement coaching empowers retirees to consider all aspects of the next phase in their life (which for many will last as long as their career). Retirement coaching focuses on retirement mindset (exploring limiting beliefs the individual may have about what retirement means), goals (what do you want to use retirement for?), projects (paid or unpaid), changing relationships with family and friends, finding purpose and meaning, ongoing personal development and cultivating resources intelligently (money, time and health).


The realisation or fulfilment of one's talents and potentialities, first developed from the work of the psychologist Dr. Carl Rogers, and considered as a drive or need present in everyone. The person-centred approach to coaching starts from the idea that each individual is whole and has this inherent potential to self-actualise and that the coach's role is to create the right conditions for the coachee to undertake that process.


The act or practice of talking to oneself, either aloud or silently, whether positive or negative, deliberate or involuntary. Self Talk is a huge part of what makes us who we are. It impacts how we feel about ourselves, how we feel about what we can achieve in life, how we're viewed by the world, and how we interact with others. It impacts our self esteem, self confidence and self image. coaching can help you to become more aware of your self-talk, particular triggers and the messages that you may habitually tell yourself. Where these may be unhelpful, coaching can enable you to adjust those messages and open up new ways of thinking and being.

Session (Coaching)

A defined period of time (in my case 50-60 minutes) available to the coachee to explore a particular subject with defined goals for the session. A session may form a part of ongoing coaching or a defined package of sessions that enables a longer-term approach to the coaching e.g. a package of six one-hour sessions. The goals for an individal coaching session will usually fit within any broader goals outlined for the coaching journey, but may also deal with a specific matter arising.

Singles Coaching

Singles Coaching dispels with the myth that anyone not in a relationship is lonely, sad and single through misfortune and recognises that many people choose to be single for a variety of reasons (and may be happier and more fulfilled than their coupled friends) while others would prefer to find a partner or partners and others still may find themselves single not by choice. Singles Coaching addresses a range of subjects that may relate to life as a 21st century single person of any age, including but not limited to dating, financial planning, life goals and maintaining other strong forms of social connection.

See also Dating Coaching

Six (6) Core Human Needs

A theory popularised by Tony Robbins that we all have the same six needs with different weightings for each individual and that how we prioritise these needs may change over our lifetimes as we evolve and our circumstances change: 1. Certainty/Comfort; 2. Uncertainty/Variety; 3. Significance; 4. Love & Connection; 5. Growth; and 6. Contribution.


SMART is a mnemonic, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound, and provides criteria for effective setting of objectives.


SMARTER is a mnemonic, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound, Exciting and Reviewed, and provides criteria for effective setting of objectives. I sometimes add another E for Environment, which considers the context in which the person is operating, including the support of the people around them.


Coaching can be a free-ranging conversation exploring a range of topics, tangents and associations, but it is always focused on overarching goals and finding a positive way forward.


adj. relating to the body. Somatic symptoms (in the body) may relate to the client's thoughts, emotions and circumstances. As a Coach, I also use somatic techniques, recognising that physical movement and/or changes in body position can cause a shift in the client's thoughts and feelings. An example of a somatic technique is Future Pacing.

SPACE (Coaching Model)

Developed by Cognitive Behavioural Psychologist, Nick Egerton, SPACE is a CBC model - the acronym stands for Social Context, Physiology, Actions, Cognitions and Emotions. I use this model when a client wants to change their habitual response to a particular recurring situation or understand why they reacted in a particular way. It enables you to break down your experience, giving equal weight to each aspect. Together we can explore how these aspects interact and influence each other.

Sponsor (Coaching)

paying the bills, but not the client

Strategic Thinking

A mental or thinking process applied by an individual to create a reasoned plan of action for achieving a goal or set of goals. Leaders often engage a Coach to help them think more strategically and to support them in examining their organization for improvement.


A state of mental or emotional strain resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. Pressure becomes stress at the point where it feels unmanageable, affects you negatively and may cause you to feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. Its causes differ from person to person, according to their social, economic, environmental and genetic circumstances. My coaching can help you to tackle the causes and symptoms of stress.

Students (Coaching for)

Student/Grad Coaching uses specific coaching models and tools to support students and graduates through this important transition period in their lives. Whether it's dealing with emotional development from teens into twenties, living away from home for the first time, social anxiety, academic pressures (exam stress!) or providing support to gain career clarity, coaching is increasingly popular among students and graduates. Your coach can help you to find a career with a purpose that aligns to your values, develop confidence, establish your personal brand, find and secure your dream role while also taking advantage of the opportunities that only your twenties can offer.


Defining success is complicated because there are so many ways to measure it. In coaching an important question might be 'what does success mean to you in this particular context?' We might consider how your definition of success may be influenced by other people and how you believe they define success? Once you're clear about what success means to you it becomes easier to set meaningful, congruent goals and stay motivated to achieve them.

Team Coaching

Different to Group Coaching, Team Coaching brings together a group of people people who are all aligned or want to align so they can work together to achieve a common goal or outcome. As with most coaching, the coach doesn't need to be an expert on the subject matter, but is instead an expert on the structures, behaviours, communication and other dynamics that bring a team together, the barriers that may potentially divide or distract them and the process for setting and achieving coherent goals.

Technique (Coaching)

An effective repeatable method, applied during a coaching session, that may enable the coachee to see their situation in a new way. Coaching has a simple core approach based on trust, deep listening, unconditional regard and powerful, open questions, but there are particular techniques, models and tools that I, as a coach, use to help my clients to make breakthroughs and to discover new ways of thinking and being. (See glossary items labeled as Coaching Technique or Coaching Model)


A person who treats psychological problems; a psychotherapist


Forms of talking therapy conducted with individuals, groups, couples and families. Psychotherapy may help people to overcome stress, emotional and relationship problems or troublesome habits. Different approaches within psychotherapy include cognitive behavioural therapy, psychoanalysis, psychodynamic therapies among others.

Transactional Analysis

A theory of personality and method of therapy for personal growth and change developed by Eric Berne, Transactional Analysis (TA) seeks to identify the 'ego state(s)' of each individual involved in a particular social 'transaction'. Whether Parent (critical or nurturing), Adult (broadly rational), or Child (intuitive or dependent), the behaviour associated with these ego states models early life. TA is particularly useful for exploring interpersonal issues.oring interpersonal issues.

Transformational Coaching

Similar to life coaching. It involves helping people bettering themselves and their lives by bringing about necessary changes. Instead of focusing on changing how someone acts, Transformational coaching seeks to bring about increased awareness of a person’s model of the world in order to create new possibilities for how one sees oneself, other people and the world. This deeper approach supports the client to explore the underlying assumptions, beliefs, values, expectations and personal attitudes that shape how they see their world. As with other forms of coaching, Transformational Coaching begins with the client’s presenting challenge, issue or aspiration but rather than focusing purely on resolving or achieving this, it seeks to explore what is at its heart, while also enabling, where relevant, the achievement of their goal(s).


A firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something,
Trust between coachee and coach is fundamental to the effectiveness of the coaching process. This consists of trust in the absolute confidentiality of the coaching conversation; the commitment of both parties to the coaching process, relationship, work and goals; and clarity about roles, goals and expectations. A trusting relationship enables the transformational, open conversations that make coaching so effective.

Unclear Comparison (Deletion)

Another common cognitive deletion, whereby someone makes a comparison where the thing or person being compared to is omitted e.g. "I'm not as good as them", prompting questions such as "at what?" as well as "What's your evidence for that?" and "Who are they?". An example where the camparitor is omitted entirely might be something like 'We're doing badly' - compared to what or whom?

Unclear Subject, Verb or Noun (Deletion)

A statement lacking detail can be a form of deletion (cognitive distortion) where the details are omitted for a reason e.g. "They know things" prompting the obvious questions "Who are they?" and "what things?". Another example might be 'My students don't respect me in class' prompting the questions 'which students in particular?', 'which class?' and 'what's your evidence that they don't respect you?'

Unconditional Positive Regard

A concept developed by the Psychologist Carl Rogers, Unconditional Positive Regard is the basic acceptance and support of a person regardless of what the person says or does, especially in the context of client-centered therapy or coaching. It is one factor in creating a 'climate of facilitative psychological attitudes' that enable people to access vast internal resources for self-understanding and altering their self-concepts and self-directed behaviour (and to self-actualise)

Unsupported Judgement (Deletion)

Another common deletion is when someone expresses a value judgement and omits the person who owns that judgement (as if a universal truth) or any evidence for it e.g. "it's wrong to want to be rich". It prompts us to ask 'says (or said) who? Is that your opinion or someone else's?


A person's values are their judgement on what is important in life. Whether we're aware of them or not, we all hold values. They are deeply held principles or standards of behaviour that intrinsically motivate us and can help us to make decisions or judge the worth or usefulness of something. Values are not static and can change over time. They are different to beliefs, attitudes and behaviours, but inform all of these. The values we apply in our daily lives may be our own or adopted from an external source and will often trigger strong positive or negative emotions to alert us to the extent that we are aligned to them.


An idea of a future state, feeling or situation, a vision can be written down in detail and used as a form of goal or may exist unarticulated or only partially accessible inside the coachee's head. The coach will support the coachee to explore and create a vision that feels increasingly achievable, familiar, real and exciting.

Wheel of Life (Coaching Model)

A simple but powerful tool that may help individuals to visualise the most important areas of their life (e.g. Health, Family, Career, Relationships, Finances, Contribution). Some coaches use the wheel to identify areas that may require particular attention due to low levels of satisfaction; others use the wheel to look for imbalance.

Work Coaching

Coaching that focuses on the activity, aspirations, challenges and potential in an individual's life relating to different forms of work. This may include business coaching for people who run or would like to start a business. Alternatively, it may focus on the coachee's career as an employee or other forms of work such as volunteering. The coaching may address the individual's values, sense of purpose and meaning, work skills, motivation, aspirations, habits, communication, work relationships and specific work-related situations.


The 'micro-generation' of people on the cusp of the Generation X and Millennial demographic cohorts, typically born between the late 1970s and early 1980s. Xennials are described as having had an analogue childhood and a digital adulthood.

Coaching Glossary: List
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