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Andrew Day, Erik De Haan, Charlotte Sills, Colin Bertie & Eddie Blass

This paper presents the findings of a qualitative research study into Coaches’ experience of critical moments in the coaching relationship. Interviews were completed with a total of 28 experienced coaches. The research highlighted that critical moments are unforeseen and characterised by intense emotions and anxiety within the coaching relationship. These moments were most often seen to be turning points in the work. Coaches reported that they resulted in either insight for their clients or a distancing, or even breakdown, in the coaching relationship. Their accounts indicate that the outcome of these moments is influenced by the coach’s containment of both their and their client’s emotions. This process of containment involved coaches being aware of their own emotions and the reactions of their client, making a link with what was taking place in the coaching relationship and reflecting on their experience with their client in a manner that led to heightened awareness for the client. In situations where a distancing occurred between coach and client, this was associated with either an aggressive response or an avoidant response by one or both parties. Coaches reported using supervision to help them to make sense of critical moments, to gain reassurance that they responded appropriately and to learn from these moments. These findings demonstrate the importance to the coaching process of personal insight on the part of the coach, reflexivity in the coaching relationship and emotional containment by both the coach and the coaching supervisor.

Keywords: Critical moments, coaching relationship, qualitative research, containment.

Full article: Volume 3, Issue 3 pages 207 - 218


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