Ontological coaching stems from the philosophies of Martin Heidegger, J. L. Austin and John Searle together with the work of a number of Chileans – Humberto Maturana, Fernando Flores and Rafael Echeverria.
Martin Heidegger, most notably in his seminal work Being and Time, explored the human condition in terms of everyday living. Austin and then Searle developed a philosophy of language that sees language as not simply descriptive but performative and action oriented.
As humans, we usually take our interpretations and ways of being for granted. For example, if an individual sees the world as dangerous, he is likely to be risk averse and say no to opportunities; similarly if someone sees life as an adventure, she is more likely to say yes to opportunities and to take risks.
Ontological Coaching is about generating shifts in a coachee's "way of being”. It’s so obvious that we don’t see our ‘being’. In other words, we are blind to our blindness. From time to time, we need someone “outside ourselves” to help us see what we cannot see – to reveal our cognitive blindness. We can say that an ontological coach is that someone.
As Julio Olalla and Rafael Echeverria have said: “Ontological coaching is a process aimed at producing a change in a person’s soul, which only happens when we are willing to observe, question and be curious enough to change the self that we are.”