Share this post

What is coaching?

Coaching. Everyone seems to be talking about it, but what actually is it?! In this blog and accompanying short video, you’ll learn a bit more about veterinary coaching and how it can be an excellent option for anyone wanting to make a change in their life or generally feel better. 

Coaching falls under the ‘talking for helping’ approaches, but it is not the same as counselling or psychotherapy. Many aspects overlap, namely being a one-on-one relationship with a dedicated professional who will listen to you from a non-judgmental position and maintain confidentiality on anything discussed. However, it differs from more therapeutic approaches in several ways.

First and foremost, coaching is helpful for a whole range of challenges and situations, and they do not require an emotional distress element like therapy. That’s not to say seeking coaching to help with stress and anxiety or challenges that are emotionally charged is not appropriate. Still, it is important that you have access to the most appropriate approach for your challenge, which can be determined before committing to a programme. 

Coaching is forward-focused, where you acknowledge where you are now and where you want to be, or how you feel now and how you want to feel, and your coach can then help you understand what needs to change and support you whilst you take intentional action to improve or change your circumstances.

How can coaching can help you and your team? 10 minute video from Emma Stansfield

Below are some commonly asked questions about coaching.

Q. What happens in a coaching session?

A session may be online, over the phone or in-person, depending on you and your coach’s preference. Sessions are usually 30 minutes to 1 hour, although the initial session is longer to allow for exploration and goal identification. Coaching sessions are led by the person being coached, meaning that you determine the topic, focus and direction of the conversation. The coach will skilfully facilitate the session to help you explore the topic further through discussion, questions and reflections. Having a safe space and person dedicated to listening and helping you explore your challenges without judgement, or offering their opinion or perspective, can be incredibly validating and transformative.

Q. Will my coach tell me what I need to do to improve my situation?

Coaches will not tell you what to do or give you advice. We believe that you have the right answer for your situation and can find that with time, space and skilled exploration provided by a coaching programme. If a coach does tell you what to do, they can only offer their perspective from their experience, which may not be appropriate or effective in your situation. A coach will work hard to remove themselves from your situation, so the session is solely focused on you and what you want to get out of it. What works for one may not work for another, so the change or solution needs to be yours. That said, if a coach has expertise in the area of your focus, they may have some ideas for you to consider, which are only shared with your permission and with no obligation to act on them.

Q. What sort of things is coaching helpful for?

Coaching helps manage several work-related challenges:

  • Stress
  • Perfectionism
  • Impostorism
  • Communication and interpersonal challenges
  • Performance
  • Role or career change

It is also helpful for achieving personal goals and working on personal development. For example:

  • Mindset change
  • Behaviour change
  • Confidence building
  • Goal attainment
  • Action planning
  • Decision making

Q. If I don’t feel unhappy, why would I consider coaching?

Coaching is helpful for anyone. Even if you are feeling happy and confident in your life, you may have goals or aspirations you want to achieve, such as career progression or a fitness goal, and working with a coach can help you create an action plan, explore any potential barriers and help you stay accountable along the way. A coaching relationship is also an empowering and supportive collaboration that can help maintain performance and improve motivation.

Q. I’ve had counselling, and it didn’t help. Why would coaching be any different?

If you are dealing with mental illness or significant trauma, psychotherapy is absolutely appropriate. Finding the right therapist and approach, of which there are many, is fundamental to the intervention being constructive. Coaching can complement therapy for those dealing with poor mental health, and in general, coaching is a more proactive, pragmatic and optimistic experience than some find counselling. That said, one is not better than the other. They are appropriate for different challenges, but having a negative experience with talking therapy in the past should not rule out the possibility that coaching can be helpful to you now.

Q. What if I don’t like my coach?

Chemistry and rapport are essential to building a positive and supportive relationship. Not every coach-style or character suits everyone seeking coaching. It is completely normal that some people gel better than others. As coaches, we want to provide a positive and helpful relationship, so all coaching programmes are preceded by a free introductory conversation. This usually lasts around 20-30 minutes and is a chance for you to discuss what you would like to work on in coaching and ask any questions. Equally, the coach can assess whether they are a good match for you and have the expertise to help you make the changes you desire. It’s OK if you decide not to go ahead after that call, but this starting point means you will get an idea of whether you like the coach and will feel comfortable talking to them before committing to a series of sessions.

VDS Training is offering a new Mini Coaching Programme for £600 + VAT. 

Coaching is part of your veterinary professional development and can be recorded as CPD. The mini programme includes four sessions, with the first being an hour and the rest half an hour, a digital personal development workbook and email support.

If you are interested in a coaching programme or want to discuss it a bit more, please get in touch by phone +44 (0) 1565 743862 or email to arrange a free, no-obligation introductory call.

About VDS Training
VDS Training are passionate about developing all members of the veterinary team, to help you overcome the personal and professional challenges you face on a daily basis, and to build practical skills and techniques to make a real difference to you and your life.