I struggle and emerge - Critical moments of experienced coaches
by: Erik de Haan
in: Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research 60.1


A recent study of critical moments of relatively inexperienced coaches in their first year of formal coaching activities yielded new perspectives on the doubts and dilemmas faced by coaches during their coaching conversations (see I doubt therefore I coach, 2008). This led the researcher to question whether these same doubts and dilemmas would remain as coaches gained experience, or whether new issues would emerge. Experienced coaches were defined as coaches who have at least eight years' coaching practice behind them after completing their formal training or accreditation. 

The sample size was 110 and 47 coaches responded communicating a total of 78 critical moments. Analysis of the moments revealed explicit evidence of both unpredictability and a deeper emotional meeting, either positive or negative. This appears to support Carlberg’s (1997) conclusions that ‘unpredictability’ and ‘deeper emotional meeting’ always go hand-in-hand. It would seem that the quality of an experienced coach’s work is determined primarily by their ability to tolerate tension and deliberately inquire into tensions within coaching relationships; else they are in danger of simply becoming good conversation partners.

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