Critical moments in the coaching process:
the clients’ perspective
by: Andrew Day, Erik de Haan, Charlotte Sills, Colin Bertie & Eddie Blass
Research report in: Proceedings of European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC) Annual Conference, 11 – 13 October 2007, Stockholm

67 past and present clients of executive coaching wrote to us about the critical moments they experienced, and 8 of them were then interviewed by us. Our analysis of their critical moments indicates that

  • For Clients Critical Moments are not an obvious concomitant of all good coaching.
  • When Critical Moments do occur they are generally positive and described as part of the internal process of the Client, unless they were provoked by concrete actions by Coaches which the Clients regarded as unhelpful and insensitive.
  • Critical Moments are often linked to sudden realisations and insight, both by explicit reference and by the metaphors used.

We conclude from this result that Clients often relate their positive outcomes to an increase in insight and realisation, which is not a trivial conclusion as many approaches in executive coaching are geared towards other outcomes (such as problem-solving, strengthening of existing solutions, remedial help or active support).


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