Your Coaching model must be unique to you.  It represents your values, beliefs, interests and expertise to your future employers and clients. It is a framework to base a coaching process on, with a metaphor or analogy often used to help your clients visualize the unseen process All ICA Coaches graduate with their own coaching model.

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Module: Coaching Models

At its most simple, a coaching model is an expression of the values, philosophies and beliefs around coaching.   It is a framework to base a coaching process on, with a metaphor or analogy often used to help your clients visualize the unseen process. It helps a coach and client understand the coaching intervention from a systems perspective. However, it should not be prescriptive or a rigid ‘must-be-this-way’ kind of thing. In coaching the conversation is always about the client.

The process

If you were to sit and observe coaching you would certainly see what’s happening in one way but if you took a snapshot of the process, what would that look like? You started with a vision. Where is the person now? Where do they want to be? Maybe you moved toward brainstorming and discovering beliefs or whatever the model that you’re moving towards.


There’s a range of published coaching models that are often referenced or adopted by coaches.  However, it is very important to realize that when you use a coaching model created by someone else, then you are applying his or her belief and values.  Ideally your coaching model would be specific to you and your unique services.

So if you develop a model that encompasses that coaching conversation and the coaching intervention, as some people call it, you will begin to work with considerably greater ease as a coach. You will generally know where you’re going in the process.

The ICA Coaching Model

At ICA, we have developed a coaching model, and process for a series of coaching sessions. By sharing this model with you, our aim is to help you to get started as a coach. Over time as your skills and knowledge grow you may want to alter the model to take into account your own unique skills and interests as well as the target markets, you wish to work with.

The ICA model uses a sound wave as its central metaphor because coaching is not a linear process; rather it is a change process that comes in waves. Some sound waves are periodic, in that the changes in the state of the wave from equilibrium to maximum compression to maximum rarefaction back to equilibrium is repetitive. The 'round trip' back to the starting point is called a cycle. Coaching is often like a cycle, and clients often need to circle back as they move forward.

ICA-coaching model module

The model above is built around the belief that self-directed change only occurs through self- awareness.

Here is a description of each step:

Current Situation - In the coaching process a client presents each week with a situation that they want coaching on. Throughout the situation they are discussing a coach is listening powerfully to their story to determine the right questions to ask on the path of self- discovery for the client. It is critical at this point in the coaching process that a client feels completely safe in a trusting space.

Beliefs and Values – Beliefs and values are central to coaching. The ICA model of coaching seeks to align a client’s actions and reality with their beliefs and values. In the moment of awakening or re-framing a perspective where the client feels the impact of this moment they will be able to ‘see’ the values and beliefs, they have that underpin the situation. It is at this point that a client can decide whether these beliefs continue to support them or not. This is a critical part of the coaching process as this is where deeper self- awareness occurs building a strong foundation for continuous self-awareness.

Goals and Vision – Some clients come already armed with their goal or vision, and some don’t. In any case, all clients have a desire to achieve, change or learn something new.

Questioning & Reframing – Powerful questioning is central to the coaching process; it is via the coach’s questions (and the client’s self-questioning) that deeper self-awareness can be achieved. Often reframing is required to move a client from a disempowering perspective to an empowering perspective

Action - Taking action is the final important part of the coaching process, and the coach spends a significant percentage of their time supporting their clients to take action. The more consistent and bold the action, the faster a client will move towards their desired outcome.

Self-Awareness – The key to change is self-awareness. This is the process of being able to ‘see’ us. It is about becoming aware of our actions, behaviours, thoughts, and feelings. It is about understanding why we feel a particular way and what belief is attached to that feeling. Knowing who we are is critical to understanding our strengths and our values. When a moment of uncertainty occurs knowing your strengths and values means you can trust this to support you through moments of uncertainty as your values and strengths remain constant.

  1. The GROW Model

Generally acknowledged to be the original coaching model, the GROW was developed in the UK and used extensively in coaching during the late 1980s and 1990s. GROW is an acronym standing for Goal – Reality – Options – Will:

Goal – the coaching session starts with identifying the goal to be achieved by the end of the session.

Reality – the next step is to become aware of the current reality of the client. Here clients become fully aware of the starting point of their journey toward achieving their goal. As the client start to recognize his or her current reality, the solutions start to emerge.

Options – Once the client has explored their current reality, they are able to explore the various options available to them. The coach helps the client to generate as many options as possible and discuss these.

Will – once the current reality and options have been explored clients know how to achieve their goal. This knowledge alone is not enough; the client needs to have the will to work on the options to reach their goal. The coach at this stage motivates and enthuses the client to gain clarity and commit to specific action steps.


This model focuses on your emotions to achieve goals. According to this model, behaviours are driven by emotion, which means that action is motivated by the emotional commitment that people have to achieve a goal.

STEPPA stands for:

Subject – What’s the subject of coaching?

Target Identification– What are you aiming for?

Emotion– Is the goal worth it?

Perception and Choice– What is the “meaning” of the goal?

Plan – How to achieve the goal?

Pace – By when will you achieve this goal?

Adapt or Act–What step-by-step actions are needed?

  1. Motivational Interviewing

MI is a style of counselling or coaching for changing behaviour. It helps clients explore and resolve ambivalence, and find the best possible solution. Like coaching, its goal has driven and focused on solving the internal conflict and brings about change.

Motivational interviewing is non-judgmental, non-confrontational and non-adversarial. It helps by identifying a client’s intrinsic values and goals with the aim of inspiring intrinsic behaviour change.

It is the client's task to identify and to resolve ambivalence. A coach will gently guide a client to express the ambivalence and work towards an acceptable outcome in line with their values. Pro-active listening is a key element in this model.

  1. The SUCCESS coaching model

The word success is an acronym that stands for:

S:        Session Planning – Goal for coaching.

U:        Uplifting Experiences– Building on past successes

C:        Charting Your Course – Working on the goal chosen by the client.

C:        Creating Opportunities –Identifying or creating specific opportunities.

E:        Expectations and Commitments –What the client expects to achieve.

S:        Synergy – What the client has chosen to do and how they feel about doing it.

S:        Summary –Recap of what's been worked on during the session.

  1. The OSKAR Coaching Model

The OSKAR coaching model focuses on the solution rather than the problem. This model looks for the solutions, strengths and on what is going well.

The various stages of the OSKAR coaching model are:

Outcome – What the client wants to change and how it will make a difference for them.

Scaling – where is the client in relations to their desired outcome.

Know How – Exploring the client’s strengths, skills and successes to build awareness and confidence.

Affirm and Action – Acknowledging and affirming the positive attributes and skills that the client shared in the Know-How stage.

Action – Helping a client determine what small action or actions they will now take.

Review – Reviewing the awareness, choices made, actions taken, and the positives and the progress made so far.

Transformational Coaching Model

Robert Hargrove, of Masterful Coaching, says,

Coaching is about interacting with people in a way that teaches them to produce often spectacular results in their businesses.

He also sees it as a highly moral endeavour, requiring coaches to take a stand for the future of people, communities, societies and the world. For Hargrove, coaching is to nurture the human spirit and allow people to learn and grow.

Three Stages of Transformational Coaching:

  1. Transforming who people are – empowering the client to create a shift in their perception about themselves to help them learn, grow and produce results they truly desire.
  2. Coaching people to learn to do new things – enabling the client to change reshape their patterns of thinking to move them from where they are getting stuck and to do things differently
  3. Coaching for incremental improvement– Coaching people to continuously improve their current practices or do what they are already doing better.

One approach that is used in Transformational Coaching is to reframe the stories that we tell about ourselves. Hargrove felt that we tell ourselves two kinds of stories – rut stories and river stories. The coach walks with the client to transform the rut story into the river story. The river story speaks about new possibilities for themselves and supports them in fulfilling their potential.

Creating your Own Coaching Model

At ICA we teach an “Integrated Coaching Model” What this means is that we encourage our students to create their own unique model rather than use an “off the shelf” model such as the GROW model. Every Certified and Advanced Coach at ICA creates a unique coaching model as part of their studies, to see the diversity of these models you can visit the blog or explore the ICA Graduate Coaching Models in the Graduate Yearbooks.

The ICA Integrated Coaching model is a style or process of coaching that is integrated with the following ways:

  1. It draws on the skills, knowledge or experience of the coach to create a unique and powerful model. Every student who comes to ICA comes with their own unique blend of skills, knowledge and experience. Often this can come from a workplace or profession, but it can also come from travel, parenting or general life experiences. The important thing is, that no matter what it is or where it came from your coaching can benefit and even be shaped by this experience. You are not, as they say, “an empty vessel” to be filled up with coaching “knowledge” Rather you are an amazing individual who has a totally unique perspective on life that has been shaped by the millions of experiences you have had in your life.
  2. It draws upon and is integrated with one or more coaching related philosophies or influences Coaching is a “hybrid’ profession and has been influenced by many other disciplines and philosophies.

We explore these more fully in our “Coaching Frameworks & Models” course where we look specifically at:

History of Coaching

Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Emotional Intelligence


Appreciative Inquiry

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy


Strengths Finder


Wheel of Life

However, this is just a sample list. There are many many other philosophies and ideas that either has influenced coaching or can be used to create a new style of coaching. We would call this “integrated” or “blended” coaching.

  1. It is designed with a particular industry or context and a particular client group in mind. At ICA we don’t believe in a one size fits all approach when it comes to coaching models. And one of the key criteria in the success of any model will be the degree to which it “fits” or is appropriate for the target market or context. So, for example, a coaching model used to coach yoga students in San Francisco will be different to a coaching model used to coach Bankers in Singapore. These are not only different client types, but they are operating in different cultural and economic frameworks. The most powerful model here will be one that fits that context and works well with that client group.

Consultative, Hybrid and Blended Coaching

In addition to developing an Integrated Coaching Model, you might also like to explore the idea of what we call a “blended coaching offer”.

While you can coach utilizing your well-earned experience without also consulting or mentoring, there is a growing trend toward consultative, hybrid or blended coaching.

In her article “Blending Consulting and Coaching for Real Value”, Cheryl C. Belles describes it like this:

Consider this a bell curve. At one end of the curve is pure consulting; at the other end is pure coaching. In the middle, for each consultation (or meeting with a client), there exists an optimum blend of coaching and consulting behaviours.

This approach is a blended solution - part coaching and part consulting or training. Some coaches are blending coaching with yoga or medicine. Some offer separate services – keeping coaching and consulting or mentor separate contract so to speak. Either way, the combination possibilities can be endless.

Some find combining coaching and consulting can add value and accelerates change for their clients. They find this approach extremely effective with certain individuals and organizations especially in environments of dynamic change.

Blended coaching in the workplace is highly effective for

  • Setting Goals and Increase Accountability
  • Get more done with increased team cohesiveness and productivity
  • Lower staff turnover with improved job satisfaction and enjoyment
  • Share the load as you equip your teams or colleagues to take on higher levels of responsibility
  • Improve productivity through increased motivation and desire to achieve
  • Gain a new respect from your team or peers as you showcase your coach approach

Blended coaching is a mix of professional expertise with coaching concepts to support those we serve through change, provide effective training and create unique products and income streams. It uses the coaching process in a directive or consultative way to maximize value and deliver real results.

No matter what your past experience, it plays a vital role in your coaching. Whether it informs and enriches the process on its own or is blended with coaching, you bring what is always unique to the process – you.

Coaching Application

Coaches use a range of tools and strategies to support their clients. Many of these you will learn throughout your training to be a coach, some you will learn through reading and reflection, some through networking with other coaches and some you will develop yourself through your practice as a coach.

A skilled coach applies the most appropriate strategy to the particular situation like a master craftsperson choosing their tools. The real skill lies, not so much in the use of the tool, but in the decision about which tool to apply and when. It is important to remember that tools, strategies and evaluation instruments are there to support the coach, but they shouldn’t drive the coaching process.

When you look at these coaching models you’ll notice they share common elements:

  • Establishing trust, open communication and confidentiality.
  • Formulating client-based, agreed to goals and expectations.
  • Questioning and learning dynamic around the client’s goals.

Thinking Of Becoming A Coach?

There's no limit to the type of coach you can be and at ICA, we encourage coaches to develop their own unique coaching model and portfolio. This communicates to your future clients who you are as a coach and the services you will offer.