October 2013 Themes

The themes of our discussion this month were:

  1. Coaching gains
  2. Avatars as a replacement of coaches
  3. E-learning courses on “Immunity to Change”
  4. Featured article in October: Journal Engine, by Kim Ades.
  1. Coaching gains


The following 4 questions were raised during our discussion on coaching gains:

  • What are coaching gains?
  • How can they be measured?
  • Are coaching gains similar to learning gains in education?
  • What research has been carried out so far on coaching gains?
  •  What are coaching gains?

Coaching gains can be looked at, according to our members, in several different ways. One one hand, coaching gains or outcomes might refer to “goal attainment“. On the other hand, coaching gains can be defined as the “measurable progress of the client, after a set number of coaching interventions“.

An alternative insight into coaching gains may be offered from a neuroscientific perspective. The article “A brain-based approach to coaching“, which was suggested by one of our group members, explains that coaching processes impact the client´s brain as they enhance focus and reflection, which then leads to motivation to act and to change.

  • How can coaching gains be measured?

The question of measurement of coaching gains is a challenging one. Suggestions from our members for measuring coaching outcomes included a)  pre-post test comparisons b) measurement of hard measures, such as financial results, if the coaching is large-scale. In addition, being recontracted is a good indicator of positive coaching outcomes. As a member stated: ” you know what is the best measure of the effectiveness of your coaching? if you are recontracted by the person/company… then, it was good and effective...”

The article “Determining the ROI of Coaching” by Jeska, S. refers to Kirkpatrick´s Four Levels of Evaluation – Reaction, Learning, Behavior, Results. As it is suggested in this article, asking clients open-ended questions based on these four levels, is likely to provide insights into the impact coaching has had on the client´s life.

  •  Are coaching gains similar to learning gains in education?

Coaching gains may be similar to learning gains in education. According to our members:  “like learning gains, maybe coaching gains could be measured with pre-test and post-test scores

  • What research has been carried out so far on coaching gains?

An experimental control study which was carried out by Matt Poepsel (2011) employed a sample of 42 participants to examine the impact of an online coaching program on goal attainment, well-being and level of hope. The findings indicated that participation in the online coaching program increased participants´ subjective goal attainment and well-being.

Another quantitative research, which was conducted by Niloofar Ghods (2009) used a sample of 152 vice president and director level coaching clients and their observers (peers, boss, coach) to examine if client satisfaction with a telephone coaching program was correlated with the coach-client relationship and with coaching outcomes, as perceived by clients and their observers. The findings of this study indicated a significant correlation between coach-client relationship, coaching outcomes and client satisfaction,  and coaching outcomes were positive and sustained 6 months after completion of the telephone coaching program.


Ghods, N. (2009). Distance coaching: The relationship between coach-client relationship, client satisfaction, and coaching outcomes. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, San Diego University, USA

Poepsel, M. (2011). The impact of an online evidence-based coaching program on goal striving, subjective well-being, and level of hope. Doctoral dissertation, Capella University.

Rock, D. (2006) A Brain-Based Approach to Coaching. International Journal of Coaching in Organizations, 2006, 4(2), pp.32-43.

2. Avatars as a replacement of coaches

avatar coach

Can coaches be replaced by avatars? This question is explored in the article Will Therapists and Coaches Be Replaced by Avatars? by Ray Williams (2013), which was posted in Psychology Today. The article refers to the advances in technology, and the possibility of Artificial Intelligence systems to have emotion sensing capabiilties in the future. Reflecting on the advances of  ‘humanized technology’, as the author refers to it, and as evidenced by a number of research studies that examined the use of virtual reality in therapy, the possibility of replacing coaches with avatars appears closer.


Williams, R. (2013) Will therapists and coaches be replaced by avatars? Psychology Today, 2013, August 12. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201308/will-therapists-and-coaches-be-replaced-avatars#! on October 30th, 2013.

3. E-learning courses on “Immunity to Change”


MIT and Harvard are offering a wide variety of online courses. An interesting course with the title “Unlocking the Immunity to change: A new approach to personal improvement” starts in January 2014. The course is based on a new psychological theory developed by Prof. Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey, which focuses on personal change as a way of reaching improvement goals, and can be adopted by coaching professionals to help their clients. A similar course for german-speakers is offered by Willms.coaching .


4.Featured article in our e-coaching community in October: ” The power of JournalEngine: Journaling meets coaching”, by Kim Ades.

journal engine logo

In the article “ The power of JournalEngine: Journaling meets coaching” , Kim Ades presents the JournalEngine platform for e-coaching, based on the idea of journaling. Read the article on this blog or in the E-Coaching Journal

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