Exploring Coaching Psychology Definition & Perspectives

Having the foundational knowledge of coaching psychology and coaching psychology definition can be a key to become an impactful coach. In this article, we will discuss various scholars’ coaching psychology definitions to understand what actually coaching psychology is.

Coaching Psychology Definition

The role of a coach and a psychologist coach is different. A coach facilitates their clients towards the realization of their insights and goals. He or she isn’t an instructor nor a guide. Coaching has been defined and redefined continually and it is natural as definitions never remain static unless the field stagnates. However, the situation in the coaching psychology domain has been less fluid. Although theorists have offered various coaching psychology definitions, the sheer variety and volume of change have been significantly different. 

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The first and foremost consideration when defining coaching psychology is distinguishing between coaching and coaching psychology. Coaching psychology definitions by different popular theorists like A.M Grant, S. Palmer, Yi-Ling Lai, etc. provide a distinction between the two approaches. According to them, coaching psychology looks to utilize and apply psychological approaches and processes in coaching practice. However, this coaching psychology definition is limited and does not add much evidence to the fact that coaching psychology is a distinctive study.

Jonathan Passmore, one of the leading theorists in the field of coaching psychology, isn’t in agreement with the aforementioned academic perspective. He states that coaches whose focus has shifted from less evidence-based approaches to evidence-based approaches like cognitive behavioral coaching don’t make psychologists. Researchers also suggest that there isn’t much difference between the coaching approaches of registered psychologists and non-psychologist coaches in terms of their behavior and coaching models. 

The debate indicates that we need to take coaching psychology as a new domain of study just like forensic, health, or occupational psychology. According to Passmore, that is the only way forward to make the most of coaching psychology. He defines coaching psychology as, “The scientific study of behavior, cognitive and emotion within coaching practice to deepen our understanding and enhance our practice within coaching” (Passmore, 2010, p.4).

Final Thoughts

Passmore’s coaching psychology definition broadens our perspective. It highlights the potential of coaching psychology and how it can help coaches. It can be the key to enhancing coaching practices and can also lead to materially different but positive and productive outcomes. Still, there is a lot of room for further research and improvements in those views. However, it is clear that those studies enable coaching psychologists to clearly articulate what they do, the underlying theories, and what they want to achieve.

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Jeannie Cotter
Editor/Writer
Writer, Coaches Training Blog community

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