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Diverse Perspectives on Professional Coaching

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Development-Based Perspectives

The next three essays lead us into the world of developmental psychology at both the personal and organizational level. The first of these essays was written by Frederick Hudson, one of the foremost experts on adult development. We have been fortunate as professional coaching practitioners to gain the wisdom offered by Hudson in his application of adult development principles to the deployment of professional coaching in support of major life transitions. It is rare for a leader in an area of psychological research and theory-building to also be a leader in the creation and expansion of an applied human service field. Hudson is one of those rare cross-over leaders.

The Context of Coaching

The second of these three essays takes us from the world of personal development to the world of broader organization development (OD). We turn, once again, to Dorothy Siminovich who conducted an interview with Edie Seashore, who of the most influential members of  the OD community—having not only been a highly successful OD practitioner, but also president for many years of the NTL Institute (a central institution in the OD field). Seashore offers a unique perspective on the relationship between organizational consultation and professional coaching in an organizational setting. Along the way, she talks about the early founding years of organization development as a human service field (paralleling many of the same issues to be found in the early history of professional coaching).

Edie Seashore: On Coaching

Appreciative inquiry (AI) is one of the new viewpoints offered in the field of organization development. Building on the growing interest in positive psychology, AI is to be found not only in the perspectives and practices of OD but also professional coaching. In this essay, one of us (WB) returns to the initial ideas offered by David Cooperrider and his co-author of the first book on appreciative inquiry (Srivastva, et al. 1990).

Appreciative Approach to Coaching in Organizations

Non Psychology-Based Perspectives

The final two essays in this issue of The Future of Coaching leads us to perspectives from outside the discipline of psychology. The first of these essays provides us with the many philosophically based insights offered by Julio Olalla, founder of the Newfield Institute. Interviewed by one of us (WB), Olalla leads us to and through the thought-provoking domains of many philosophers, bringing these domains together in what he identifies as ontological coaching.

Interview with Julio Olalla

Finally, we are indeed honored to be able to publish an interview with Robert Sapolsky, a noted neurobiologist at Stanford University and recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award.  Dr. Sapolsky is interviewed by Marcia Reynolds, our equally as successful colleague who as authored several best-selling books and as served as President of the Association of Coach Training Organizations. Building on his book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Sapolsky (2004) is drawn by Reynolds into very interesting and unique speculations regarding how his research and writing about neurobiology might help to inform professional coaching practices.

Zebras and Lions in the Workplace: An Interview with Dr. Robert Sapolsky

As we come to the end of this learning-ful journey through diverse perspectives on professional coaching, we hopefully will have learned something new and altered our own perspectives on our inter-disciplinary-based human service field. We might wish to emulate our own proclivity to encourage our coaching clients in their lifelong learning endeavors. Dare we practice what we preach?


William Bergquist

Bill Carrier


The Future of Professional Coaching



Brock, V. (2012) Sourcebook of Coaching History. ISBN 1469986655

Sapolsky, R. (2004) Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers [3rd Ed.] New York: Holt.

Srivastva, S., Cooperrider, D., & Associates (1990) Appreciative Management and Leadership .

San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.




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