Coaching World Issue 7: August 2013 - Page 5

What is an Evidencebased Practice?\r\nEvidence-based practice grew out of\r\nthe practice of medicine and has since\r\nexpanded to a range of disciplines, including\r\npsychology. An evidence-based practice has\r\nthree key features: First, it depends on the\r\npractitioner (in this case, the coach) using\r\nthe best-available knowledge in the field.\r\nIdeally, the “best-available knowledge” is\r\nthat which has been researched and tested.\r\nFor coaches, such knowledge is derived\r\nfrom current studies in coaching and from\r\nstudies in related fields. Second, evidencebased practitioners integrate researched\r\nknowledge with their own expertise and\r\nskills. And third, in evidence-based practice,\r\nskills and theory are integrated and applied\r\nin the context of the individual client—the\r\nsituation she is in, her individual needs and\r\nher personal preferences.\r\nAlthough coaching theory is an emerging—\r\nand promising—field of study, most scholars\r\nand practitioners of coaching are still largely\r\nreliant on knowledge gathered from a\r\nwide range of disparate fields—from the\r\nnumerous schools of psychology to theories of\r\nleadership and organizational development.\r\n\r\nHow Are Theory and\r\nPractice Linked?\r\n• Theory provides both a deeper and\r\nmore comprehensive understanding of\r\nhuman behavior. Useful frameworks for\r\nachieving this understanding include\r\ntheories of humanistic psychology;\r\ncognitive-behavioral therapy;\r\ntransactional analysis; theories of\r\nintelligence; neuroscience; theories of\r\nculture, gender and aging; and theories\r\nof the relationship between emotions\r\nand the body.\r\n• Theory gives you a way to approach\r\nclients within a social context, be that\r\ntheir work, family or social network.\r\nApplicable frameworks include theories\r\nof organizations, leadership, and team\r\nand group behavior, as well as theories\r\nof family and organizational systems.\r\n• Most coaching engagements involve\r\nsome form of change. Clients might\r\nwant to develop more skill in a specific\r\narea, enhance their outlook on life,\r\nor change less-than-skillful behavior\r\npatterns or attitudes. Theories of change\r\nare critical in helping with this transition.\r\nTheories of change can also support\r\ncoaching for conflict management or\r\ncareer or personal transitions.\r\n\r\nHow is Theory Employed in\r\na Coaching Engagement?\r\n• Theory can inform the approach you\r\ntake to a coaching engagement. For\r\nexample, adult development theories\r\ncan help you understand what a client\r\nneeds from the engagement and help\r\nyou select stage-appropriate coaching\r\ntools and tasks. They can even clue you\r\nin to a client’s emotional state.\r\n• Tapping into a theoretical framework\r\ncan enhance the breadth and scope of\r\nyour understanding of human behavior,\r\nexpanding your coaching tool kit. For\r\nexample, a coach who has studied\r\ntheories of human behavior and change\r\nhas a context for how change occurs,\r\nwhat visible signs support or sabotage\r\nthe client, and what it takes to navigate\r\nthe process.\r\n• Theories become teaching tools. For\r\nexample: A client who is going through\r\npersonal or professional changes might\r\nfind understanding and emotional relief\r\nby studying a framework such as William\r\nBridges’ transition model and discussing\r\nits application to her situation.\r\nCONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE >\r\n\r\n• Increasingly, many of our clients are\r\nbecoming more aware of the desire to\r\nincrease their satisfaction with life­—to\r\nexperience more joy, more serenity,\r\nmore meaning. There are any number\r\nof traditions, including self-help,\r\npersonal growth concepts\r\nand spirituality, which lend\r\ninsight to and increase\r\nawareness in our clients.\r\n\r\n“Theory gives you a way to\r\napproach clients within a\r\nsocial context...”\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\n