Coaching Research in 2020 – About Destinations, Journeys and Travelers 

Authors & title 

Graf, Eva-Maria & Frédérick Dionne (2021). Coaching Research in 2020 – About Destinations, Journeys and Travelers (Part I). International Coaching Psychology Review 16/1, 36-50. 

Graf, Eva-Maria & Frédérick Dionne (2021). Coaching Research in 2020 – About Destinations, Journeys and Travelers (Part II). International Coaching Psychology Review 16/2, 6-21.



The growing international importance and professionalization of coaching shows in a substantive gain in high-quality research. The aim of our contribution (in the form of two consecutive papers) is to take stock of coaching research in the year 2020 both as regards its history, its major findings and its current trends. This has been done repeatedly over the last few years, which in itself attests to the growing importance and relevance of coaching research. The added value of this contribution is its specific focus on eight international meta-analyses on outcome research published since 2010 and on relevant primary studies from the German-based outcome coaching research in the context of negative effects of coaching. The second part of this overview (see Graf & Dionne, Part II) will take the reader beyond coaching outcome research into the more recent paradigm of coaching process research, particularly into qualitatively operating linguistic analysis of coaching processes.

After Part I of Coaching Research in 2020 (Graf & Dionne, Part I under review) summarized research on the destination(s) of coaching in the context of quantitative psychological outcome research, Part II will look beyond outcomes and effectiveness. It calls for more research on the coaching process itself, that is, on the journey of coaching and its travelers. To this end we first explore the different research foci in the change-process-research paradigm of coaching (Wegener et al., 2018). Next, the paper argues for the necessity to engage more in qualitative process research to carve out how coach and client locally interact with each other on a moment-to-moment basis along individual coaching sessions and entire coaching processes. We introduce qualitative linguistic coaching process research (Graf, 2015, 2018, 2019). This research paradigm addresses the coaching micro-level und investigates how the local effectiveness of coaching emerges from the turn-by-turn verbal- (and non-verbal) interaction between coach and client on the basis of the sequentiality and the intersubjectivity of the coaching conversation. While coaching research and practice will benefit immensely from such an in-depth, qualitative linguistic analysis of authentic coaching interaction, this paper ends with a call for research that addresses and relates both the global effectiveness and the interaction of coaching. The TSPP (turn – sequence – phase – process) Model (Deplazes et al.,2018) is presented that integrates concepts from quantitative psychological outcome research and qualitative linguistic process research. This model allows for relating coaching effectiveness and interaction and also underlies a very recent interdisciplinary, mixed-methods research project on questioning sequences in coaching (Graf, Spranz-Fogasy & Künzli, 2020), which will be briefly sketched out in the final part.