Home Research Evidence Based The Coaching Research Agenda: Pitfalls, Potholes and Potentials

The Coaching Research Agenda: Pitfalls, Potholes and Potentials

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The field of professional coaching is in need of evidence—evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of skillful coaching, evidence that provides guidance regarding the specific coaching strategies that most successfully address certain client issues, and evidence that points the way to further developments and improvements in this emerging human service endeavor. Much as evidence-based practices are now prominent in the fields of medicine and psychotherapy, so they are much needed in the field of professional coaching.  Given this imperative and precedence for evidence-based coaching, it is appropriate and timely that this issue (and the next issue of The Future of Coaching) be devoted to the topic of coaching research.

It is also appropriate and timely to point out the many pitfalls and potholes associated with any evidence-based initiatives. The backlash against both evidence-based medicine and evidence-based psychotherapy is something more than just knee-jerk responses of reactionaries and recalcitrants who oppose any intrusion into their professional autonomy or any challenge to their deeply-entrenched practices. The backlash also uncovers some very important cautionary notes regarding the collection of data about complex human service practices. In this article and one I will be offering in Issue Three of The Future of Coaching, I will identify some of these cautionary notes and suggest ways in which the pitfalls and potholes associated with this type of research can best be addressed.

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