Coaching Model: PRACTICAL

Coaching Model: PRACTICAL 1A Coaching Model Created by Rachel Bloom
(Performance Development Coach, AUSTRALIA)

I recently participated in visualization with my own coach and whilst at the time it happened to not correlate with this paper, her summary to me of what I built in the visualization was very “practical” by way of my description and participation. After this, my current consulting business tagline is “Practical People Solutions”. When I give my elevator speech about the type of organizational development consulting I deliver, it involves the word “practical” in the definition.

Practical feels comfortable to me.  It’s useful. It’s functional with no frills or can have frills and still be functional. Practical can be textbook, theory related, corporate jargon, programs, structures, and solutions yet presented in a way in which it resonates with the audience. This could be complex wording or simple jargon.  Either or any which way, it needs to be useful, matches the thinking space and outcome of the client and their lingo.

About 15 years ago I have also gifted a framed photo and an anonymous picture and quote that says:  “Of course I want to save the world she said, but I was hoping to do it from the comfort of my regular, practical life.” I ooze practical!

Like ICA graduate Damon Poole, in his mirror model of coaching, I have tried for months to come up with my “model” of coaching. In fact, I have often resisted putting pen to paper. I too am not a big fan of coaching models. Like a baby who never reads the book on “what to do in the first 12 months” or a kid who never reads the “parenting” book, I believe neither do the potential coaching clients select you on your coaching model.  Maybe they will investigate your style, philosophy, background, experiences and be attracted to your niche branding but I believe more so they are attracted to a recommendation, referral, and/or the rapport and trust and the relationship that you build with them.

Damon states that he loves the ICF competencies and markers in their pure form. I do too. They are clear and practical and guide the coaching approach or process. Damon was inspired by another fellow ICA graduate Heather Tingle. Both models are not a sequence of stages or an arc or an acronym. They are pure symbolism involving an owl and the moon for Heather and a mirror for Damon. Taking inspiration from both, I have actually used an acronym that captures my “Practical” approach to coaching to be able to build and develop a relationship with your client and help them achieve what they are looking for.

My model is to be PRACTICAL in your approach using the coaching process. The coaching process is best described for me by Marion Franklin in her book, The Heart of Laser-Focused Coaching, “it is about the ability to understand the client, explore what is troubling them about their situation and ascertain how they would like to feel instead”.

My coaching model is like the Scrabble crossword game whereby every letter counts. In this case, each word counts. Words associated with coaching can be formed in different combinations. Interestingly, they all have at least one letter from the word “Practical”. In the Scrabble game, there are bonus points for using premium letters to form bonus words that really propel you forward and closer to winning. You can always mix them up and be curious about what other words are possible!  In that way, you are flexible to apply a particular model that suits the client in the same way you might choose to use a particular coaching tool to suit the situation. They could be the same or different each time. The “PRACTICAL” acronym doesn’t follow a stepped coaching process or the order of ICF competencies but rather tells the story.

My coaching journey began with the idea to be a consultant with a coaching approach and round out my offering to include coaching. I am a people development enthusiast and coach. I thrive on helping others achieve their goals one practical step at a time. I am offering coaching with a Personal Development lens. I coach people to be the best version of themselves, to have confidence in their abilities and who they are, and feel proud of themselves so that they in turn can build their teams and take others to places they haven’t been before.  I want to then give them practical tips and tools to support their ability to lead, manage and coach others, build their teams and be the best they can be.

I see this skill could be applied in many environments, niche areas, or areas of my life close to my heart but for now, I will focus on new and middle management in the Not For Profit (For Purpose) sector and/or small to medium size businesses in which I consult.

The Cambridge dictionary states that Practical can be defined as relating to experience, real situations, or actions rather than ideas or imagination.

Interestingly, every one of those descriptive words could sit next to a letter within the word Practical to help form part of the acronym!

The Google Thesaurus further describes practical in the following words; feasible, practicable, realistic, viable, workable, possible, reasonable, sensible, useful, helpful, constructive, doable, accomplishable.

Other words that resonate with me include; makes the most sense, grounded, down-to-earth, user-friendly, functional, reasonable, pragmatic, convenient, rational, no-nonsense, common sense, realistic, substantive, and functional.

My idea is that practical things are attainable. Doable, Feasible. If the outcome of a coaching session is to explore what is possible and take some actionable steps, I believe the client is more likely to take accountability if it is doable and feasible. Clients are for the most part, resourceful. They have the capability within them to find the solutions and action steps. They just need time, powerful questions, direct communication, creative thinking, and adequate space to think it through. Much like a good game of scrabble!


BeP resent and use Powerful Questions to explore what is Possible

Build Rapport

Acknowledge Progress

Be Curious

Build T rust and be empathetic

BeI nsightful and offer Direct Communication

Explore Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Build Actions and check for Accountability

Active Listening. Find the Leverage point and Embrace theLearning

Practical Acronym meaning PRACTICAL Coaching actions
P Be Present and use Powerful Questions to explore what is possible.



Coaching involves being present to allow the coach to respond to what the client is offering. It allows the coach to be in tune with their client and able to facilitate the client’s learning most effectively.

This is about being in the moment.  They say, as a coach, you don’t have to be right but you just have to be right there being open and flexible to what the coaching time together may bring. It is the coaches’ awareness of themselves, their clients, and the actual coaching conversation. This develops overtimes as the coach becomes more aware of themselves, their coaching style, and practice. It’s a sense of “being” rather than “doing”.

When coaching presence is there, coaches and clients often describe the sense of ‘flow’ and ‘stillness’ or as mentioned often by ICA trainers, “dancing with the client”.  Coaching presence also helps to build rapport, trust, and a connection.

Powerful and curious questions make people pause and look into their stories. The coach doesn’t have to have the answers so they need to ask powerful questions to help explore what is possible and facilitate the learning.

These questions help to figure out what is real, where the client’s perceptions are coming into play, and what else might be possible.  They also must be purposeful and lead the client forward. Whatever question the coach asks, they must ask themselves first, is this going to serve my client’s learning?

Powerful questions reframe perspectives (the  Powertools are helpful too). They also help with planning, goal-setting, and tracking progress.

Powerful questions for the most part start with the word, What. MCC coach Marion Franklin says ”What” questions elicit wisdom. She quotes Laura Berman Fortgang in her Heart of Laser-Focused Coaching book who coined the term, “Wisdom Access Questions” – because wisdom is exactly what “what” questions elicit.”

R Build R apport Everyone encounters problems that can’t be solved on their own. If clients are willing to bring them to a coaching space they need to feel safe and comfortable to share out loud.

Developing rapport is about developing a connection and understanding with the client. The actual coaching might be uncomfortable yet it is in this discomfort zone where learning happens as it is usually during the moment of uncertainty that an AHA occurs.

Sometimes a coach and client can get lucky and can “hit it off” or naturally “get on well” and it can also be built and developed consciously by finding common ground and showing empathy.

It’s being respectful, receiving information with no judgment, and reflecting on what you notice. It helps the client feel heard and understood.

A B e A uthentic and Acknowledge progress Being authentic as a coach is also about being genuine about your intentions. Bring your authentic, true self to each session and follow through with the style and/or session you are portraying to your, client and prospective clients. You really do care about your client’s progress. When you are showing empathy, bringing direct communication, or giving feedback, be genuine in your approach and words.

The coach needs to check in with the client during the session to see how they are tracking towards the goal. Acknowledging your client’s progress (and sometimes lack thereof). Reflect them on what you observe in body language, action, or words. This gives them a sense of progress and will allow them time to reflect and take a moment to acknowledge it for themselves if they haven’t already. Sometimes a client won’t see the progress because they are so in their story and/or absorbed in what’s not working. By bringing them back to what is progressing or what is happening, you can give them a more rounded view of things and center them back to the goal.

C Be Curious As a coach, you need to be curious and explore what’s possible and what’s potentially getting in the way. Be curious about your client’s thinking, values, ideas, habits, and behaviors. You need to find the lens that they are looking at things from. Spend time looking at their current map of reality.
T Build T rust and

Be empathetic

A trusting space allows for real emotional connection.  Building trust is part of finding the right client/coach “fit” and establishing a working relationship. “Empathy fuels connection. It’s feeling with people” says, Bene Brown. ICA trainer, Sunita said, “empathy is getting into the client’s shoes. BUT you MUST remove your own shoes first”.  Your clients trust that you leave your agenda, any biases, and judgment at the door. Real learning can only happen in an environment of trust. Outlining expectations and what is required in the coaching interaction which should all be outlined in the Coaching Agreement also assists with building trust. It gives clarity around the process, the coaching relationship, ethical guidelines, and professional standards.
I Be I nsightful and offer Direct Communication A coach will be insightful by being perceptive and having a deep understanding of what the client is sharing. It’s being able to see and understand the impact of the story on the client.

Direct communication is about communicating effectively, using appropriate and relevant language with the client. The coach can validate their analysis by playing back to the client what they are hearing in a manner in which the client can relate.  It’s about the flow of the conversation including messages, reflections, and observations. It’s being assertive in a supportive way.

C Explore Cognitive Triangle During my coaching journey, I have taken a particular interest in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and its impact on coaching as a discipline. The definition of self-awareness or that magical “AHA” moment leans on the three main areas of the Cognitive Triangle; thoughts, feelings, and actions and how they link and how each may affect that person’s perception and wellbeing. Being self-aware is being aware of our thoughts, feelings, or actions and how they might impact each other.

One of my favorite terms is a “Mental mistake”. This is where you only acknowledge information that is consistent with your already-believed thoughts or beliefs, ideas, or thoughts and this mindset can get in the way.

Your thoughts don’t rule you. You can change them. It is a privilege to work with a client to work out their underlying beliefs to help them make decisions and choices that are conscious and empowering.  The best place to look for these is in the current situation that is causing this disharmony or frustration. Their feelings are a good indication of their thoughts and beliefs.

A Build Actions and check for Accountability With your client, it is important to explore their motivations and commitment to change for themselves. Without this, actions and accountability don’t stick.

Once the client uncovers what is getting in the way they can move on to designing actions, planning, and managing their accounts.

Actions don’t have to be a checklist. They can simply be a movement forward. They can be the next thing the client can build on.

Accountability is the responsibility of the client to manage their progress and be accountable to themselves. It is the string that ties the commitment to the results.

L Active ListeningEmbrace L everage point and the L earning Active listening in coaching is described by many as listening 80% of the time and talking 20% of the time. It is also about being comfortable with silence. Active listening and powerful questions are inter-linked as you can’t really do one without the other.

The coach’s job is to facilitate the learning. In coaching, the learning happens in a moment of uncertainty, discomfort, or clarity. The shift is the leverage point. And the shift will bring on actions. The coach should reflect on the Learning and move to action. You learn and grow with time and experience. Reflecting on the learning is the other book’s end to keep the coaching structure together.

A coaching conversation can really add value to one’s life.  As once you know and are aware of things, the JIG IS UP. There is no turning back. Once you get it, you need to try to keep moving forward. This sounds practical to me.


“The Mirror”, Damon Poole,

“Owl on a Moonlit Night”, Heather Tingle,

Franklin, Marion, The Heart of Laser-Focused Coaching, 2020.

Reynolds, Marcia. Keys to Breakthrough coaching, 2020


Learn How to Create Your Own Coaching Model

Your Coaching Model reflects your values, philosophies and beliefs and must communicate who you will coach
and the problems you will solve. 
Read more about creating your own coaching model

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