Critical Moments of Clients and Coaches

2010_ICPR_De Haan Critical Moments of Clients and Coaches-Direct-Comparison Study

A Direct-Comparison Study

De Haan, E., Bertie, C., Day, A. & Sills, C.
International Coaching Psychology Review, 5, 2, 109-128, 2010

In this study descriptions of critical moments of coaching as experienced by both executive coaches and their clients are analysed and compared, to find out more about what works in coaching conversations.

This is a real-time direct-comparison study of coaches’ and clients’ critical-moment experiences with data collected straight after mutual coaching conversations. Eighty-six critical-moments descriptions were collected by independent researchers (not the authors) from measurements straight after independent coaching conversations (not with the authors). Exactly half of these descriptions were taken from clients and the other half from their coaches. They are analysed with reference to the full dataset of 352 critical-moment descriptions (102 by clients and 250 by executive coaches).

Both coaches and clients report new realisations and insights as most critical in their direct experience of coaching, and they are also in substantial agreement about the specific moments that were critical in the sessions and why. Hence we find no evidence for the so-called ‘Rashomon experience’ in executive coaching. Differences with earlier coach data which showed a completely different picture could be explained by drawing attention to the fact that those earlier data were biased towards moments of exceptional tension experienced by the coach, verging on ‘ruptures’ within the coaching relationship.

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