Problem Focus

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A – Z Coaching and Mentoring – This week’s extract outlines ‘Problem Focus’ and the advantages problem focus questions can bring to coaching sessions.

Don’t forget if you have a special request for a definition of a coaching term or principle, just let us know! Perfect for anyone studying for an ILM Coaching & Mentoring qualification, or as a refresher for experienced coaches.


Problem focus – Clients often present a problem as the subject on which they would like to be coached. The problem is then discussed and a goal is set to address the problem.

Examples of problem focus questions are: ?

  • For how long has this been a problem for you? ?
  • How do you feel when you think about the problem? ?
  • What impact is this issue having on you?

Problem focused questions generate fewer goal options and steps than solution focused questions (Grant 2012). Many coaches will avoid asking too many problem focused questions on the basis that they reinforce and perpetuate the problem state.

The advantages of problem focus questions are that they give the client an opportunity to talk (and for the coach to hear) about their reality of a situation and as a result feel listened to and acknowledged. This is helpful for rapport, relationship building and therefore trust.

Taken from the A-Z Coaching Handbook by Clare Smale where you will find a comprehensive A-Z, plus a full list of references.

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