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Online Coaching: Features and Benefits

Will online coaching supplant face-to-face sessions altogether? Now that many coaching paths, following the pandemic, are online coaching paths, will this modality persist over time?



It is reasonable to assume that the traditional face-to-face approach, which for decades has seen mainly business managers as beneficiaries, is destined to be greatly reduced in favor of increasingly remote interventions. These methods make it possible to involve an increasingly wider company population, to move the organizational culture more easily towards the principles of coaching and to guarantee faster access to these tools.


This is even more true in the period of the Coronavirus, a phenomenon that has enormously accelerated the use of remote work tools and online coaching.

Yet, remote intervention is nothing new: Freud himself sometimes used correspondence exchanges in therapeutic paths. And now that the characteristics of the tools available have changed, through the video sessions it is now possible to replicate relationships very similar to those that would occur in the presence.


Yet, in this increasingly fast and digital world, in fact, there is a need that emerges strongly and that even online coaching must consider: the possibility of continuing to feel human.


And the possibility of having an open and warm dialogue with an online coach, even where the medium is a video-session, can still convey and release humanity. Of course, some things are lost in "digitization" (but others are gained) and there are always possible risks to manage. The point, however, is that these methods can also be accessed by slices of the company population who would otherwise have no way of being able to benefit from traditional coaching (for reasons of cost, time, place of work, ...). Just think of the advantage of having coaching skills widespread in your company population and how this could make the often cold and hostile workplace more "human".


And it should not be forgotten that researches now show an equal effectiveness of remote interventions compared to those in the presence, while preserving the first a considerable saving of time without necessary travel. According to a recent study (A comparison of face-to-face and distance coaching practices, RM Berry, JS Ashby, PBGnilka, KB Matheny, 2011, Consulting Psychology Journal) there are no significant differences between face-to-face sessions and those occur in online coaching: the alliance that is created between coach and coachee is equally effective regardless of the method used.


The benefits of online coaching are many:

  • the better use of the time available, as physical movements are avoided which do not bring value to coaching as they take place outside the session.

  • the possibility of reaching remote coachees, for example with workplaces located in the national and international territory with respect to the headquarters of the parent company, and in all those situations in which the session cannot take place live.

  • the ability to activate an online coaching path more quickly than those required by the traditional face-to-face approach, as well as the scheduling of the meeting, so that it is possible at least to allow the coachee to be able to start the real time video session, just when you need it and, if necessary, also from your smartphone.

  • the ease of "triggering" of an online coaching relationship, as all of us are now used to video-calls or video-conferences, while we are less so when it comes to entering a room with a stranger to start a path of personal growth; the phenomenon of “online disinhibition” was studied by John Super, of Rider University (Psychology of the Digital Age, 2016, Cambridge University Press).


However, it is necessary to consider that in a remote session it is not possible to use all the aspects of non-verbal communication (posture, movements, ...) typical of a face-to-face meeting, and this aspect must be managed appropriately to relate spontaneously and effectively. Yet, unlike other tools such as chats, online video coaching sessions reproduce a context very similar to face-to-face meetings and can still guarantee high levels of empathy without generating misunderstandings.

The online coach engaged in a remote meeting must also have in mind which techniques are most suitable for this type of context and which, instead, to set aside (for example, the exercises that require coachee changes in posture or position, obviously, are difficult to perform during a video session).


Go ahead with innovation, then, even in the field of online coaching!

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