ArticlePDF Available

A systematic review (SR) of coaching psychology: Focusing on the attributes of effective coaching psychologists

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Objective: Whilst a number of narrative reviews on coaching exist, there is no Systematic Review (SR) yet summarising the evidence base in a transparent way. To this extent, we undertook a SR of Coaching Psychology evidence. Following the initial scoping and consultation phase, this focused on Coaching Psychologists’ attributes, such as the required knowledge, attitudes and behaviours, associated with a conducive coaching relationship and subsequent coaching results. Design: The SR review process stipulates a priori protocol which specifies the review topic, questions/hypotheses, (refined through expert consultation and consultation of any existing reviews in the field, and replicable review methods including data extraction logs). Methods: The initial search elicited 23,611 coaching papers using 58 search terms from eight electronic databases (e.g. PsyINFO). Following initial sifts, 140 studies were screened further using seven inclusion criteria. Study results from the how many included papers were integrated through Narrative Synthesis. Conclusion: This SR highlighted that the coaching relationship is a key focus of coaching research and practice, where a professional psychological training / background is emphasised as an essential requirement to manage coachee’s emotional reactions and the rationales behind their behaviours. The review also highlighted that coaches’ attributes have a significant influence on the effectiveness of coaching process and results. The review concludes with a proposal for an initial Coaching Psychologist Competency Framework to underpin future studies, and noting the short comings of existing frameworks.
Content may be subject to copyright.
A preview of the PDF is not available
... According to Correia et al. (2016), executive coaching must adequately address each perspective of these stakeholders. Therefore, a clear contract and transparent processes are needed (Lai & McDowall, 2014). Such a contract can, for instance, be based on a detailed agreement about information treatment and addressing the specific goals and responsibilities of each stakeholder (De Haan & Nieß, 2015;Passmore & Lai, 2019). ...
... Overall, the psychodynamic approach fits the idea of working at the core of a problem instead of taking shortcuts. However, this is at the cost of simplicity in coaching because it needs hard work by the client and significant psychological competence of the coach (Lai & McDowall, 2014) to deal with psychodynamics. Therefore, this might also be an exciting framework to explore at the core of applying MT beyond the ideas already seen in the literature (Anthony et al., 2017). ...
Thesis
Full-text available
This thesis concerns the transfer of Mental Toughness from elite triathlon coaching to top executive coaching in Germany. It analyses how experienced coaches from both contexts understand the concept of Mental Toughness and their views about the ways and the extent to which Mental Toughness may be applicable in German executive coaching. This study is important because it investigates the relevance of Mental Toughness, which is an eminent concept in sports coaching, in an executive coaching context where it has never been subject to empirical research. The value to the research field of executive coaching is that Mental Toughness might offer new ways of understanding how coaching can help with translating goals into action. In addition, practitioners could profit from applying Mental Toughness in improving the client’s ability to withstand better hindrances and challenges, which is one central claim of mental toughness as it is interpreted in the sports literature. The research design for this study is qualitative. Data from 22 interviews with international elite triathlon coaches and German top executive coaches in a one-moment-in-time sampling approach are used to answer the research questions. The findings and analysis reveal that mental toughness can be relevant and valuable in the coaching of German top executives as an important supplement to existing coaching processes. Findings suggest that mental toughness, as a feature of coaching, can build awareness and sensitivity to issues of long-term persistence. The study advances executive coaching theory and practice and shows how Mental Toughness could be integrated into executive coaching theory in its focus on goal pursuit persistence energy.
... The counselors worked to discern who would (and who would not) be a suitable client for treatment, at this time. Third, I observed that the admissions counselors subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) coached (Lai and McDowall 2014) the potential client toward the specific types of responses that are required to achieve and maintain client status within the treatment program. ...
Chapter
Much of the published literature about addictions counseling has traditionally focused on research supporting evidence-based approaches to treatment, establishing and maintaining best practices to achieve and maintain recovery, and prescribing how therapeutic interventions ought to be delivered. Little attention has been directed toward translating recovery into something that is done in the day-to-day work of counselors within addictions treatment institutions, how this doing is socially organized more broadly, and who this doing is done with (and to). In this entry I invite readers to consider how our recovery practices are constructed and maintained, the work counselors engage in to facilitate these practices, and that occasions from people in accessing and participating in these practices.
... It is during this process that the coached individuals are supported by the coach to see themselves in a new light. Researchers stress that the coaching interpersonal interaction should be focused on the coached individual's goal [15], and the coaching dialogs need to support the achievement of the goal to foster positive behavioral change [16]. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Coaching has been recognized as a valuable developmental approach in the field of leadership development, able to support aspiring leaders to attain their personal and professional goals, as well as support their teams in a rapidly changing, increasingly uncertain, and complex business environment. Coaching programs have the potential to support the creation of culture norms that can better support optimal working attitudes and behaviors, contributing to improved performance through evolved leadership capacity. However, the use of leadership coaching in the experience economy, and specifically the tourism and hospitality industries, is mostly unreported. In a case study of coaching tourism and hospitality managers and educators in Vietnam, the intentional change theory was used to support the development of coaching behaviors. The program learning evidence from a six-week long coaching program showed that those participants who aspire to become effective leaders can engage in coaching behaviors through leadership identity, engagement in intentional leadership development, and through more mindful and collaborative actions. This chapter presents a starting point for other “leader as coach” programs, advancing the field of evidence-based tourism and hospitality leadership development. Theoretical and practical implications are also discussed.
... The relationship between the clinician-patient is often layered and dynamic making it difficult to directly assess or compare between studies (Street et al., 2009). Key components of an effective relationship are similar in medical and educational settings with research suggesting the following: good management of emotion, high patient or coachee knowledge of their own condition, client/coachee centered approaches and good communication with shared understanding (Street et al., 2009;Jackson et al., 2014;Kelley et al., 2014;Lai and McDowall, 2014). Many of the 143 included studies relied on clinician ratings of symptoms and rarely included the patient. ...
Article
Full-text available
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is estimated to affect 3.5% of the global workforce. Despite the high prevalence rate, little is known about how best to support adults with ADHD (ADHDers) at work. Relevant research is dispersed across different disciplines such as medicine, health studies and psychology. Therefore, it is important to synthesize interventions aimed at ADHDers to examine what learning can be gleaned for effective workplace support. We conducted a systematic review of relevant interventions framed by realist evaluation and the Context-Intervention-Mechanism-Outcome classification to identify key mechanisms of effectiveness for workplace interventions. We searched 10 databases including a range of journals from medical science to business management applying predetermined inclusion criteria and quality appraisal through a risk of bias assessment for quantitative and qualitative methods. We synthesized 143 studies with realist evaluation. Most studies evaluated the effectiveness of pharmacological interventions highlighting the dominance of the medical approach to supporting ADHDers. Key mechanisms of effectiveness were identified from psychosocial interventions including group therapy, involvement of people in the ADHDers network, and the importance of the client-patient relationship. Overall, there is limited research that examines the effectiveness of workplace interventions for ADHDers. Furthermore, much of the existing research evaluates pharmacological interventions which is difficult to transfer to the workplace context. It is recommended that future research and practice consider the key mechanisms identified in this review when designing interventions as well as barriers to accessing support such as disclosure and self-awareness.
... All the more, coaching psychologists (e.g. Lai and McDowall, 2014) increasingly seek to more deeply understand how personality as a process (Hampson, 2012) plays out in workplace coaching. Second, based on the results of this study and as suggested by Fusco et al. (2015), ASD as the "process of becoming" a continuously congruent self across contradictory behaviors may most probably take place against someone else's taste or will in a social context. ...
Article
Purpose Little is known about how individual differences play out in the process of authentic self-development (ASD) through workplace coaching. This article explores whether the Big Five personality traits and affective, behavioral, cognitive and desire (ABCDs) components of the Big Five personality traits were relevant to ASD, specifically examining the role of affect as a potential mediator. Design/methodology/approach In total, 176 clients' personality was assessed pre-coaching. Aspects of ASD (perceived competence, goal commitment, self-concordance and goal stability) were assessed post-coaching. Clients' affect balance (AB) scores were obtained post-session. Findings Multilevel path models showed that higher levels of mean AB (but not the slope) mediated the associations between personality and perceived competence and goal commitment. Personality predicted goal self-concordance, but these effects were not mediated by AB, neither personality nor AB predicted goal stability. Research limitations/implications The authors encourage randomized controlled trials to further test findings of this study. Ruling out method variance is not possible completely. However, the authors put forth considerations to support the authors' claim that method variance did not overly influence our results. Practical implications These results suggest the necessity of an optimal experience of affect for ASD in workplace coaching and the understanding of how ABCDs, AB and ASD are related beyond coaching psychology. Social implications A deeper understanding of personality processes is important for fostering ASD to meet the challenges of management development in the authors' volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) world. Originality/value This is the first study to test personality as a process in workplace coaching linking personality to one of the most valued leadership skills: authenticity.
... As regards to the interaction effects about client age and coach experience, while some studies show that gender similarity (e.g., Bozer et al., 2015) has (a small) significant effect on a coaching outcome, there is less convergence in findings when it comes to coach's attributes such as coaching experience. For instance, Lai and McDowall (2014) report that coach training/background has a significant influence on the coaching process and results, while Sonesh et al. (2015) showed that the coach's experience was unrelated to client goal attainment. We argue that the emerging lack of convergence in coaching literature implies that we may only interpret findings appropriately if and where we sufficiently account for the context in which coaching has taken place, and that it may, therefore, be inappropriate to draw simple generalized conclusions. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Coaching is increasingly viewed as a dyadic exchange of verbal and non-verbal interactions driving clients' progress. Yet, little is known about how the trajectory of dyadic interactions plays out in workplace coaching. Method: This paper provides a multiple-step exploratory investigation of movement synchrony (MS) of dyads in workplace coaching. We analyzed a publicly available dataset of 173 video-taped dyads. Specifically, we averaged MS per session/dyad to explore the temporal patterns of MS across (a) the cluster of dyads that completed 10 sessions, and (b) a set of 173 dyadic interactions with a varied number of sessions. Additionally, we linked that pattern to several demographic predictors. The results indicate a differential downward trend of MS. Results: Demographic factors do not predict best fitting MS curve types, and only client age and coach experience show a small but significant correlation. Discussion: We provide contextualized interpretations of these findings and propose conceptual considerations and recommendations for future coaching process research and practice.
Article
For the coaching research agenda to support evidence-based practitioners, coaching research needs to provide the best possible external research evidence to support practitioners in answering particular questions of interest. Quantitative coaching research has an important role to play in supporting evidence-based practitioners to answer questions around the efficacy and generalisability of coaching interventions. This paper outlines three key criteria for designing and conducting rigorous quantitative coaching intervention studies: (i) methodological rigour in the study design; (ii) rigour in outcome measurement in coaching intervention studies; and (iii) investigating processes of change in coaching interventions. The intention is that coaching psychology researchers can use these methodological recommendations to design quantitative coaching intervention studies that meet criteria for quality and rigour in the future.
Article
Full-text available
With increasing evidence about the effectiveness of workplace and executive coaching as an organisational development intervention, research has turned to the components that may predict coaching outcome variance. The 'common factors' model from therapeutic outcome research suggests that 'client and extratherapeutic factors' is the single greatest contributing variable. This systematic review determines all statistically significant client factor variables from the peer-reviewed coaching research literature, with 17 distinct factors from quantitative studies and 22 factors from qualitative studies. It is hoped that the three most frequently identified client factors ('willingness or motivation to change, 'commitment to the relationship/process' and 'openness') may be used as predictor variables in future research to bring focus to what has been a disparate field of study to date.
Thesis
Full-text available
The purpose of this study was to explore how trained, four-year success coaches perceive their coaching practice with students in higher education, particularly in the context of their meetings. While coaching programs have proliferated, little is known about coaching as a practice in higher education and it is difficult to generalize findings because professionals are ‘coaching’ in different ways. Some academic coaches in the field have stated they were given a title, but they are not ‘coaching’ (Sepulveda, 2017). Little is known about coaching as a practice, and this study will help to fill this gap. Taking a narrative approach, I used self-determination theory as a lens to explore the perceptions of trained, four-year success coaches to understand what they perceived they strategically do in their meetings with students. I interviewed 18 coaches in higher education across the United States and asked for stories in how they have helped students in each meeting, and throughout their meetings. In this narrative study, I explored how coaches approach their meetings and what skills they incorporate. Through semi-structured interviews I elicited stories of growth, development, and intentionality in their practices. Beliefs, skills, conversational framework, the progression over time, the training, growth, and development and the role make up coaching practices in higher education. It is the consistent combination of these that make the coaching practice a unique student support service. This study builds upon self-determination theory and I draw conclusions about what findings mean for coaching practices in higher education.
Article
Full-text available
Objectives: There is a lack of research on the coaching relationship (O’Broin & Palmer, 2006a). The current paper will present the findings from a qualitative study that explored experiences of workplace coaching including the coaching relationship. Design: The study adopted a qualitative design and the data was analysed by Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, Jaraman, & Osborn, 1999). Methods: Nine participants, from two large organisations, were interviewed about their experiences of coaching. Results: ‘The coaching relationship’ was identified as a main theme which, in turn, comprised of three subthemes; valuable coaching relationship; trust; and transparency. These themes highlighted that the coaching relationship was very valuable for the participants and that this relationship was dependent on trust and improved by transparency. Conclusions: It was concluded that it is important that coaches are aware of, and are working with, the coaching relationship. Nevertheless, the participants also highlighted that the relationship was not the only factor that made coaching useful. Working towards goals and improving performance were also valuable components of the coaching. It was, therefore, suggested that coaching may be most beneficial if it incorporates a number of components, including a focus on the relationship. Keywords: the coaching relationship, coaching, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis; valuable coaching relationship; trust; and transparency. Citation: Gyllensten, K., & Palmer, S. (2007). The coaching relationship: An interpretative phenomenological analysis. International Coaching Psychology Review, 2, 2, 168-177.
Article
Full-text available
The objective of this report is to propose comprehensive guidelines for systematic literature reviews appropriate for software engineering researchers, including PhD students. A systematic literature review is a means of evaluating and interpreting all available research relevant to a particular research question, topic area, or phenomenon of interest. Systematic reviews aim to present a fair evaluation of a research topic by using a trustworthy, rigorous, and auditable methodology. The guidelines presented in this report were derived from three existing guidelines used by medical researchers, two books produced by researchers with social science backgrounds and discussions with researchers from other disciplines who are involved in evidence-based practice. The guidelines have been adapted to reflect the specific problems of software engineering research. The guidelines cover three phases of a systematic literature review: planning the review, conducting the review and reporting the review. They provide a relatively high level description. They do not consider the impact of the research questions on the review procedures, nor do they specify in detail the mechanisms needed to perform meta-analysis.
Article
Full-text available
The evidence-base for the practice of coaching continues to flourish, despite the fact that very little is known about the practitioners (i.e. the coaches) themselves. It is of value to understand how coaches perceive their practice. Such information can be utilized to create a common knowledge-base about coaches that can be used, in turn, to track trends and forward research that evaluates coaching services. As the use of Co-Active coaching in facilitating behaviour change continues to rise it becomes important to learn more about Certified-Professional Co-Active Coaches (CPCC). Therefore, the purpose of this study is to evaluate what CPCCs enjoy about being coaches. These results were contained within a larger survey. A total of 390 CPCCs who were over 18 years of age, could read English, and had access to the Internet participated in the current study. Findings included: that witnessing clients change their lives; the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment from coaching; the collaborative relationship with clients; the autonomy and flexibility of the profession; and the gratification received from using their skill set were the main reasons CPCCs enjoyed coaching. This paper elaborates on these findings and makes suggestions for future research. Key Words: Life Coaches; Co-Active Coaching; Coach Training; Survey
Article
Objectives: Human resources (HR) professionals responsible for purchasing executive coaching services represent a unique research resource as independent and invested observers of coaching practices. The research objective was to explore this group’s knowledge to better understand what differentiates the work of exceptional coaches. Design: The study was a survey design. Methods: Twenty experienced executive coaching purchasers completed 90-minute structured interviews based around a 40-item questionnaire regarding their experiences of locating and working with exceptional coaches. Saturation testing and a post-analysis survey provided support for the emergent themes. Results: Purchasers defined a ‘great outcome’ from coaching as ‘behaviour change.’ Descriptions of executive-coachees’ experiences grouped around themes of engagement, deeper conversations, insight and responsibility, and positive growth. The exceptional coaching capabilities that facilitated these experiences were: credibility, empathy and respect, holding the professional self, diagnostic skill and insight, approach flexibility and range, working to the business context, a philosophy of personal responsibility, and skilful challenging. Conclusions: Themes resolved into a process model of exceptional executive coaching that incorporated environmental, executive, and task characteristics as other influential factors. Discussion focused on the remedial implications of using behaviour change as the outcome definition. Despite this implication, executives nevertheless seemed to experience executive coaching as positive and, at times, transformational. The work of exceptional coaches may be at its most distinctive when the required behaviour change is particularly demanding, and when outcomes are based on transformational change.
Book
The Coaching Relationship discusses how we can integrate process perspectives such as the quality of the coach-coachee relationship, and professional perspectives including the influences of training and supervision, for more effective outcomes. Stephen Palmer and Almuth McDowall bring together experts from the field of coaching to discuss different aspects of the coach-coachee relationship, topics covered include: the interpersonal perspective the role of assessment ethical issues cultural influences issues of power. The book also includes a chapter on the interpersonal relationship in the training and supervision of coaches to provide a complete overview of how the coaching relationship can contribute to successful coaching Illustrated throughout with case studies and client dialogue, The Coaching Relationship is essential reading for practicing coaches and coaching psychologists wishing to learn more about the interpersonal aspects of coaching.
Chapter
Executive Coaching: A Generation ChangeThe Pragmatics: What is Executive Coaching?Toward a New Synthesis: Positive Psychology and CoachingCoaching Techniques and Interventions and their Underlying TheoryHow Small Differences in Perspective can have a Huge ImpactThe Research Conundrum
Book
Such diverse thinkers as Lao-Tze, Confucius, and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have all pointed out that we need to be able to tell the difference between real and assumed knowledge. The systematic review is a scientific tool that can help with this difficult task. It can help, for example, with appraising, summarising, and communicating the results and implications of otherwise unmanageable quantities of data. This book, written by two highly-respected social scientists, provides an overview of systematic literature review methods: Outlining the rationale and methods of systematic reviews; Giving worked examples from social science and other fields; Applying the practice to all social science disciplines; It requires no previous knowledge, but takes the reader through the process stage by stage; Drawing on examples from such diverse fields as psychology, criminology, education, transport, social welfare, public health, and housing and urban policy, among others. Including detailed sections on assessing the quality of both quantitative, and qualitative research; searching for evidence in the social sciences; meta-analytic and other methods of evidence synthesis; publication bias; heterogeneity; and approaches to dissemination.