The world has changed and society is presenting new challenges – in order to remain mentally healthy in it and be able to develop, it is necessary to deal with self-development consistently. Coaching is one of many trends that has in recent years gradually begun to gain popularity in Estonia. In the article, three Smartful coaches share their opinions and answer some of the most common questions regarding coaching.

What is coaching?

HR professional, trainer, and coach Helen Pärli has phrased it as follows: “Coaching is working on yourself through the fact that you have someone along the way who supports and encourages.”

Coaching is like a method for self-development. It is a way that helps a person become aware of one’s own needs and desires. Helps to see things from different angles, create systematicity and set action steps in order to achieve the desired goals.

Often we do not think about what is really important to us in life. A coach is someone who asks questions in a free environment of assessment with the aim of bringing out a person’s real potential. It is important to understand that it is never the job of a coach to give answers to your problems. In coaching, various exercises are performed together with the coach, which helps the person to find oneself and then come up with solutions to different problems on one’s own.


“In the course of coaching, a person gets that “I can do it by myself” experience. It builds confidence and faith in oneself” – Neidi Kompus, life coach.


What kind of coaching is there and does the coaching session always look the same?

Just as there are many coaches in Estonia, there are also different ways of coaching. Communication coach and trainer Ly Kivikas believes that all parts of life can be coached, starting from career to relationships and mental health. Life coaching and business coaching are currently the two most common options to choose from in the field. A coach can be helpful to anyone whose goal is personal development. In addition to the 1:1 coaching, it is also possible to coach teams and conduct group coaching, where group synergy supports the development of each participant.

Now, in case you have started to wonder about how to know what kind of coaching is most suitable for yourself, then it is generally the case that although there are many coaches specialising in different fields a person is still a whole, and therefore no matter which coaching style you’ll choose, eventually it will affect you in other areas as well.

The base structure of coaching usually always stays the same. The structure is suitable for everyone and is scientifically developed based on how the human brain processes information. However, there is a wide variety of techniques and methods to use. The “handwriting” of each coach is different. Probably every coach has their favourite techniques as well. The most important thing is to find and formulate the client’s goal and set the path towards it – how the desired result is achieved depends on the handwriting of each coach. Therefore, it cannot be said that the session will always remain the same.


“Some use more practical things and others use creative approaches. When it comes to choosing coaching methods, there is no definite right or wrong” – Helen Pärli


What is the difference between coaching and therapy, and can one replace the other?

The transition from therapy to coaching is blurred. In both cases, the process takes several months and the idea itself is to support the person going through changes. However, these are not interchangeable options, but rather complementary ones.

While coaching is aimed at the future, finding solutions, and taking practical actions to achieve goals, then therapy focuses on events that have happened in the past. For example, it may be that the client has experienced an event in the past that, in order to be able to move forward, needs to be dealt with in therapy. At the same time, there is a possibility that a person simply needs clarity in oneself and does not need therapy at all. At this point, it is the coach’s responsibility to understand the client’s needs and distinguish what kind of help one really needs.

Coaching helps a person to notice their blind spots and be more aware of why I am behaving and being the way I am while working towards the goals they want to achieve. 

To better understand what is the best option individually, you can ask yourself, is the problem that needs to be solved more forward-looking or involves solving the past? It is also important to understand that somewhere there is a limit. A coach is not a magic bean! 


“Coaching can definitely be helpful while waiting in line for a therapist or a psychologist. Whether coaching alone is enough – it is very individual and will be revealed during the meeting.” – Ly Kivikas


Why is the initial meeting in coaching free of charge?

Seems like a sales trick, but in fact, the reasons behind it are much deeper. The first meeting is often free of charge so that there could be a so-called “chemistry check” between the client and the coach. In coaching, personality matching between the parties is very important. The relationship between the coach and the client is a partnership in which the role of the coach is to help the client find their potential and to support, encourage, and inspire in the implementation of change. It is important that trust is built and that both parties feel comfortable working together. It is a waste of time if you can’t open yourself up during a meeting, and let it be said here that it is perfectly okay if you don’t – in that case, probably someone else will suit you. Often those who say that coaching wasn’t for them are saying it because of having experience with a coach with whom there was no match.


“A coach is someone with whom you discuss very deep and sincere topics while doing it basically with a stranger. The match between each other is therefore very important.” – Helen Pärli


How often and for how long should a person take coaching?

Discussing the question with Neidi Kompus she finds that the correct answer varies depending on the desire and the goal, how quickly one wants to achieve results. As a rule, a coach is met every two to four weeks. It is worth leaving a gap between each session so that the person could reintegrate the received ideas into actions.

When it comes to coaching consistency is very important, because it takes time to get answers when looking at yourself. Since development needs time to be consolidated, it is advisable to have a minimum of six coaching sessions. The coaching can also go on for a whole year or more. The period is decided by how deep one wants to go.

Coaching is an investment in oneself. Goals can change over time and that’s okay too. The only sure thing in life is change.


For whom is coaching really meant, and if all the people went to coaching would the world be a better place?

Everyone who believes that personal development is necessary and possible is welcome in coaching. At the moment, there is a lot of attitude in Estonia that going to a coach is a failure or a sign of weakness. In fact, the opposite is true! One of the goals of coaching is to create cracks in your thoughts and beliefs that hold you back. People who dare to be honest with themselves and admit that one has to look at topics that are not always easy to look at are heroes. In difficult moments, the greatest development occurs.

Today, coaching reaches most people through companies directing employees to go, but fewer people look for an opportunity themselves. The saying that “I was told to come here” doesn’t work. In coaching, you have to want to go and be open.

It is important to know that with trends, there will always be players on the market who are not suitably qualified. Before choosing a suitable coach, it is always worth checking online to see what background the coach has and whether he or she has the necessary training. It is recommended to give preference to coaches accredited by the ICF (International Coaching Federation). It is also worth knowing that coaches have different levels – ACC (Associated Certified Coach), PCC (Professional Certified Coach), MCC (Master Certified Coach). In Estonia, coaching is taught by, for example, EBS (Estonian Business School) and Intelligent Group, the graduates of which are also Smartful coaches.


“If all people went to coaching, it would mean that everyone would have the desire to engage in self-development, to understand, be aware, and realise their potential – yes, surely, in this case, the world would be a better place.” – Ly Kivikas


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