Coaching and emotions: an exploration of how coaches engage and think about emotion

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Coaching and emotions: an exploration of how coaches engage and think about emotion
Coaching Jounral

This research project set out to investigate if and how coaches actually respond to emotions that they and their clients have. They were also asked for their views about what have been the main influences on their orientation to emotions. In addition the participants were asked about their perception of the boundary between coaching and therapy in relation to emotions. A case study methodology using semi-structured interviews was chosen to explore and understand the participants’ approaches motivations attitudes and meanings related to how they thought about and responded to emotions in themselves and their clients. A Grounded Theory approach was used to analyse the data and to develop theories and frameworks to make sense of the participants’ perspectives. Findings suggest that coaches use a variety of approaches to engage emotions in their clients and themselves. These include acknowledging or playing back their clients’ emotions noticing their own emotions during a session and asking or commenting about their clients’ bodily experiences. Levels of engagement with emotions seemed to vary according to coaches’ comfort with emotions their coaching purpose and how they defined the boundary between coaching and therapy. The study findings also emphasised the importance of coach education around emotions in particular for coaches to understand the connection between emotions and change leadership and motivation. Related to this it is important for coaches to have clarity about their coaching framework and how emotions fit into it.


Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice Vol. 3, No. 1, March 2010, 46-59

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