Volume 7, Article 4

Volume 7, Article 4

Exploring the Experiences of Coaches Working on the Edge: Trauma, Post traumatic Growth and Coaching
Ruth Cooper-Dickson, Hanna Kampman and Julia Papworth

Citation: Cooper-Dickson, R., Kampman, H., & Papworth, J. (2023). Exploring the Experiences of Coachees Working on the Edge: Trauma, Post traumatic Growth and Coaching
European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, 7, 4, 1-17. https://www.nationalwellbeingservice.org/volumes/volume-7-2023/volume-7-article-4/

Processing dates: Submitted 25 March 2021; Resubmitted 8 July 2022; Accepted 13 September 2022; Published 16th March 2023

Volume 7, Article 4


Background: Coaching has traditionally been a way to facilitate peak performance and wellbeing in individuals. However, it is slowly recognised that many clients entering the coaching realm are also going through highly challenging life situations, even trauma. Therefore, a coach may find themselves regularly working with individuals who are trying to navigate life after traumatic incidences.

Aims: Explore the experiences of coaches who identify as having worked with individuals who are navigating a personal trauma(s) and how if at all, the coaching has facilitated a positive transformation in their clients.

Method: Ten coaching practitioners were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule. Transcribed interviews were analysed using Reflexive Thematic Analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2019). 492 codes were listed from the data and through an inductive analysis, the themes were identified.

Results: Provide three overarching themes which reflect the experiences of coaches working on the edge: The Complexities of Life Emerge; Ethics and Safeguarding when Trauma Narratives Emerge; and Transformation of the Client After Trauma. The themes illuminate the high prevalence of trauma within coaching clients as well as how the coaching relationship can potentially facilitate both the process and outcomes of post traumatic growth in clients.

Conclusion: The results have significant implications for both research and practice. Coaching practitioners are not automatically trained as qualified mental health professionals, therefore,  there is an urgent requirement to recognise the need for safeguarding both the coach and client. The authors suggest a preliminary framework for starting the conversation around providing standard professional ethical guidelines, trauma-informed training, and support for coaches.

Keywords: Coaching psychology, posttraumatic growth, coaching, ethics


Ruth Cooper-Dickson is with CHAMPS Consulting Limited, C/O Lower Ground Floor, 111 Charterhouse Street, London EC1M 6AW, UK
Email: info@ruthcooperdickson.com

Hanna Kampman is with the School of Psychology, University of East London, University Way, Royal Docks, London E16 2RD, UK
Email: h.m.k.kampman@uel.ac.uk

Julia Papworth, Coaching and Mentoring, is with Oxford Brookes University Business School, Headington Campus, Headington Rd, Headington, Oxford OX3 0BP, UK
Email: jpapworth@brookes.ac.uk