Home Concepts Best Practices Why a Coach Cannot Create Awareness for the Client

Why a Coach Cannot Create Awareness for the Client

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In my years as a coach trainer and Mentor Coach, I’ve found that many practitioners struggle with the eighth ICF Core Competency, which calls on them to “create awareness.”

The true purpose of any coaching conversation is to create a safe, supportive environment where clients can explore and uncover what they may not have conscious access to about themselves, their work, or some other aspect of their lives. Usually, there is a gap between where the client is now and where she desires to be. The coach plays an important role in creating the conditions for awareness to emerge, so the client can close that gap and move toward the desired outcome.

Why_a_Coach_Cannot_Create_Awareness_for_the_ClientIf you’ve ever been coached by someone who has drawn wisdom out of you that you never thought you possessed, you know what a joyful high that is. When I have that experience, I find it easy to determine what steps to take next. As a coach and as someone who listens to a lot of coaching sessions, I am always delighted when I hear clients gain awareness, which increases their energy and most often leads to knowing what to do next. It’s truly the juice that makes coaching so rewarding for me: witnessing unfolding awareness that turns into empowered action.

For coaches who struggle to help their clients create awareness, focusing on another ICF Core Competency—that of coaching presence—may be the key to taking their skills to the next level.


The core competency of coaching presence is the bridge between coach and the client because it’s about being fully present, fully conscious and in spontaneous relationship with the client.

It takes practice to be fully present with your clients; i.e., to listen with your whole self to how they speak about their successes as well as their challenges. You are listening at many levels at once—for the words clients use, what their tone of voice or body language might be conveying, what emotions they might be experiencing and their self-talk and beliefs about their situation. You must pay attention to patterns of thinking and behaving and listen with your full senses, including your gut or intuition. Then you need to discern if what you are sensing is a bias you have, or whether it’s something you can share with the client. If you do have a bias, and you still feel it would serve the client to hear what you are sensing or observing, then you must own your bias with the client.

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