by Sarah Dale
Does coaching work? Should we use hard evidence or our own judgment to tell us if it’s good? Or is client feedback enough?
As an occupational psychologist who coaches, I was pleased to attend discussions about the evidence for coaching effectiveness at the Division of Occupational Psychology conference, specifically in sessions led by Professor Rob Briner. Evidence-based practice was also the theme of the Special Group in Coaching Psychology’s annual conference in December 2012.
The arguments echo a wider debate, often associated with Ben Goldacre, author of Bad Science, which challenges how we decide what works. They raise important questions about what constitutes good evidence. Ignoring these could put us in the same well-meaning boat as 17th century doctors wedded to their useless (or positively harmful) blood-letting practices. However, few of us work with cast-iron evidence for everything we do. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, parents – and psychologists – all rely on their own judgment at times. As a practitioner, the debate leaves me questioning what I should be doing. I get positive feedback from my coaching.