By Paul R. Pace, News staff
The term “life coach” was among the 100 new additions to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary this year.
The phrase started in the mid-1980s and is commonly used to describe those who help others achieve their personal best.
Many social workers — who are skilled in helping clients cope with challenges — say coaching comes naturally, and they report having success in launching their own personal- and executive-coaching businesses.
Los Angeles social worker Jacqueline Ashley said coaching is a good fit for her and her clients.
“I was inspired to get involved because I was excited about the idea of helping people to be their personal best,” Ashley explained, “whether it is to help them make a career decision, manage their time better, acquire skills, manage stress, improve a relationship or find work/life balance.”
Coaching is a great avenue for social workers, because it is a means to facilitate human development, she added.
“Who better than social workers to be able to help clients tap into great potential, move us beyond our perceived limitations, and keep us motivated at the same time?” she said.
Ashley began coaching at the beginning of this year and believes the area is growing in acceptance among consumers, particularly professionals and those in management. Her typical clients are executives and career-oriented professionals.
“They are generally interested in leadership development, learning how to acquire new skills, and/or in fine-tuning existing skills,” Ashley said. “They want to develop both professionally and personally in order to improve job performance, advance in their careers and find fulfillment.”
She said her MSW training laid the foundation for her coaching know-how.
“I complemented and polished these skills with my graduate training in evidence-based coaching at Fielding Graduate University (in California),” she said.
Ashley said that while coaching and social work share similarities, there is a crucial difference.
“Clinical social work is about helping people to be able to cope with problems that interfere with healthy biopsychosocial functioning for which the purpose is to achieve healing and promote an adequate quality of life,” she said. “Coaching, on the other hand, is generally different in that it emphasizes improvement not based upon deficits in psychological functioning and/or the social environment, but rather improvement towards personal and professional development for the purpose of achieving ultimate potential and fulfillment.”
From the October 2012 issue of NASW News