Prof. Arnon Levy – Dean of Studies
Coaching is defined by International Coach Federation – the largest coach organization as: “a partnership between the coach and the coachee stimulating thinking and creative processes to maximize personal and professional potentials”.
The coaching profession has enjoyed during its 20 years of existence, a phenomenal success. It could be said that life coaching has an undeniable footprint at the 21st century’s culture; In a survey quoted in “Psychology Today” (1) it was found that coaching had been the second rapidly growing after the high tec. professions.
The great success of coaching derives from the fact that it is compatible with the 21st century Zeitgeist- The spirit of time. It responds to modern man’s search for individuation and self-actualization all together in focused and efficient ways to achieve these goals.
Let us review the history of coaching in a nutshell:
It’s is quite consensual that Thomas Leonard, a business consultant, as the founder of coaching, following his insights in the 1974 Thimoty Gallwey’s book: “The Inner Game of Tennis” which incorporated ideas from the field of psychology, the ideology of the human potential, and knowledge in sports coaching.
Thomas Leonard founded Coach University and the first coaching community around 1992, and ever since, the coaching field began to expand exponentially.
Principles of operation of the coach, as defined by the ICF global organization of coaching:
1. The coach sees in the coachee a person responsible and committed to their aspirations.
2. The coach will motivate the coachee to make himself solutions and strategies to achieve his dream.
3. The coach will motivate the client to self-discovery.
4. The coach will help clarify things and will partner in the venture of reaching the customer’s goal.
There are quite a few approaches to coaching but in all of them there is a consensus that the success of the coaching process depends on the following conditions:
1. Coaching is a rational process of achieving goals
2. Coaching takes place in an agreed setting. The setting functions in a similar way to setting in psychotherapy, however it is more flexible ( the coaching is not performed in the clinic, as with psychotherapy; Coaching can be performed over the phone, in video, in a park or a cafe).
3. The coach/coachee relationship is of great importance (similar to the transference between therapist / patient but less deep and less complex)
4. The coachee shares responsibility for the success of the coaching process together with the coach.
What is the distinction of Coaching Psychology approach from life coaching ?
- Coaching is a successful profession but not a scientific discipline . Consequently it does not have clear boundaries. Googling “life coaching” we may find: “spiritual coaching”, “yoga-coaching”, “cooking-coaching” or “sex-coaching”.
- The lack of clear boundaries makes us sometimes believe that everything is possible in coaching .
- On the other hand, if everything is possible, lack of boundaries may lead to collapse. The first signs of decline are already here in the ambivalent attitude towards coaching by the large public and by within the academy.
- One of our goals is to contribute to the creation of a new, evidence based, multidisciplinary field rooted in social and human sciences methodology. Existential coaching psychology derives its knowledge from 100 years of psychological science from a humanistic/existential outlook.
- A scientific approach does not mean hard science like physics but a discipline complying with scientific and academic norms and standards.
What are scientific standards ?
- In epistemology of science it is common to distinguish between three main states in the development of scientific knowledge. Let us see from the top to the bottom:
- Standard Science. We expect standard scientific discipline to be consistent with the mainstream of its disciplinary knowledge, to be based upon objective observation and research, to have predictive generalization ability, to be open to change and to self- criticism
- Proto – science. Proto science is usually a state of the science in the making. Proto – Science offers a reasonable explanation for the body of knowledge in which it is engaged. Proto science is open to self-criticism and is not in contradiction to the dominant scientific paradigms.
- Proto Science is not supported by objective observation and research. Its predictive and generalization abilities are insufficient and its research methodologies are not sufficiently valid, and reliable.
- Pseudo – science – Pseudo – science, is a collection of ideas , beliefs, practices and methodologies presented as a science . Pseudo – science research methodology lack reliable methodology and can not be examined experimentally .
- Pseudo Science has no boundaries with other disciplines and does not meet basic requirements of scientific methodologies such as: reference to sources, precise quotation of sources, reconstruction of experiments, and publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
- Supporters of pseudo – science frequently use demagogic persuasion means such as half-truths and meaningless technical jargon, to prove their “theories”.
What is scientific knowledge in a nutshell ?
- Science does not discover the “Truth”. Science is a methodology and perspective about the world which is the most valid and reliable at a given moment.
- Proto – Science is a field aspiring to be scientific ,
- Pseudo – science is a field disguising as science.
Future prospectives for coaching
- The coaching profession success derives from being adapted to the zeitgeist – the spirit of our time and from using powerful change-generating tools. However since it is not a scientific discipline it risks to become a profession based upon pseudo – scientific assumptions. Already today attitudes towards coaching in the large public and within the academy are of ambivalence and distrust. Being construed upon a body of knowledge eclectic, inconsistent and without clear boundaries it risks to become a fad as a new-age practice.
The remedy: creating a scientific discipline of coaching psychology.
- We in International Society for Coaching Psychology work, together with other academic professionals in Coaching Psychology, to create a an academic discipline of Coaching Psychology based upon psychological and human sciences knowledge. Many of us want to integrate this approach in a multidisciplinary perspective.
- Coaching Psychology Academy perspective is to integrate coaching Psychology with a humanistic/existential approach which are according to our view in the roots of the coaching profession.