Coaching Model: DIAD

Having experienced the benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (“CBT”), I created a model based on its application to the coaching process. The DIAD (Delayer, Identify, Address, Discover) coaching model is predominantly influenced by the fundamentals of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (“CBT”) and it’s derivative, Cognitive Behavioral Coaching (“CBC”).

Where CBT follows a remedial, solution-bearing approach, CBC highlights inherent structures, encourages productive behaviors, articulates vision, and establishes accountability to follow a goal-oriented life. Therapy addresses the past to understand the present; coaching addresses the present to guide the future.

The ICF* posits this distinction between coaching and therapy: “therapy tends to focus on feelings and experiences related to past events, whereas coaching is oriented towards goal setting and encourages the client to move forward. A therapist typically works with a dysfunctional person to get them to become functional. A coach works with a functional person to get them to become exceptional”

Sir John Whitmore’s GROW**  model, regarded as the origin of structured coaching, inevitably deserves mention. The acronym for Goal – Reality – Options – Will, GROW proffers the definition of goals in specific, measurable terms to determine outcomes. The DIAD model incorporates GROW rudiments and Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) exercises into its framework:

  • SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-related) goals
  • Visualization techniques: sub-modalities, state of being, anchoring

The resulting meta-model is a combination of these powerful and proven coaching concepts.

Utility in a Coaching Context

In a coaching scenario, the DIAD model follows these tenets in functional order:

  • Delayer
    • Figuratively, ‘peel back the layers of an onion’
    • Uncover problems, issues, and underlying beliefs
    • Thorough dialogue dedicated to understanding client
    • Powerful questioning for breadth and depth of coverage
  • Identify
    • Observe the client’s emotional and physical language
    • Take note of goals, alternatives and consequences as inferred by the client
    • Understand the outcome of each scenario.
  • Address
    • Distinguish between belief systems
    • Categorize as irrational or rational
    • Guide client through consequences of accountable decision-making
    • Establish support systems
  • Discovery
    • Complete the process by helping client understand the opportunity for implementation and evaluation
    • Use visualization and anchoring techniques to motivate
    • Ask for feedback to evaluate, adjust and constantly improve the model.


Adherence to ICF Competencies^
The DIAD model accepts and demonstrates compliance with ICF’s ethical coaching guidelines. Highlighted below are competencies from each category (minimum of one) that are specifically associated with this model.

A. Setting the Foundation

  1. Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards
    • Clearly communicates the distinctions between coaching, consulting, psychotherapy and other support professions
  2. Establishing the Coaching Agreement
    • Understands and effectively discusses with the client the guidelines and specific parameters of the coaching relationship (e.g., logistics, fees, scheduling, inclusion of others if appropriate)

B. Co-creating the Relationship

  1. Establishing Trust and Intimacy with the Client
    • Shows genuine concern for the client’s welfare and future
    • Continuously demonstrates personal integrity, honesty and sincerity
    • Demonstrates respect for client’s perceptions, learning styles, personal being
  2. Coaching Presence
    • Is present and flexible during the coaching process, dancing in the moment
    • Sees many ways to work with the client, and chooses in the moment what is most effective

C. Communicating Effectively 

  1. Active Listening
    • Attends to the client and the client’s agenda, and not to the coach’s agenda for the client
    • Distinguishes between the words, the tone of voice, and the body language
    • Summarizes, paraphrases, reiterates, mirrors back what client has said to ensure clarity and understanding
    • Bottom-lines or understands the essence of the client’s communication and helps the client get there rather than engaging in long descriptive stories
    • Allows the client to vent or “clear” the situation without judgment or attachment in order to move on to next steps
  2. Powerful Questioning
    • Asks questions that reflect active listening and an understanding of the client’s perspective
    • Asks questions that evoke discovery, insight, commitment or action (e.g. those that challenge the client’s assumptions)
    • Asks open-ended questions that create greater clarity, possibility or new learning
    • Asks questions that move the client towards what they desire, not questions that ask for the client to justify or look backwards
  3. Direct Communication
    • Is clear, articulate and direct in sharing and providing feedback
    • Uses language appropriate and respectful to the client (e.g., non-sexist, non-racist, non-technical, non-jargon)

D. Facilitating Learning and Results  

  1. Creating Awareness
    • Invokes inquiry for greater understanding, awareness and clarity
    • Communicates broader perspectives to clients and inspires commitment to shift their viewpoints and find new possibilities for action
  2. Designing Actions
    • Helps the client to focus on and systematically explore specific concerns and opportunities that are central to agreed-upon coaching goals
    • Helps the client “Do It Now” during the coaching session, providing immediate support
  3. Planning and Goal Setting
    • Helps the client identify and access different resources for learning (e.g., books, other professionals)
    • Identifies and targets early successes that are important to the client.
  4. Managing Progress and Accountability
    • Clearly requests of the client actions that will move the client toward their stated goals

* “Coaching: What Is It?” Learning Level 1. International Coach Federation, 2010.
** The GROW Model. Source:

^ ICF Core Competencies. Source:

Published by International Coach Academy (ICA) on July 23, 2014:

Pranav Ramanathan


Pranav is an operating executive at Coacharya, a global leadership development firm, and Ellipsis, an award winning video production agency. An entrepreneur with 20-years of experience, he has deep expertise managing brand and product marketing services for companies in the technology, media and non-profit sectors. Pranav is an ICF-accredited Professional Certified Coach (PCC).


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