A systematic review (SR) of coaching psychology: focusing on the attributes of effective coaching psychologists

Yi-Ling Lai, Almuth McDowall

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    Objective - Whilst a number of narrative reviews on coaching exist, there is no systematic review (SR) yet summarising the evidence base in a transparent way. To this extent, we undertook a SR of coaching psychology evidence. Following the initial scoping and consultation phase, this focused on coaching psychologists’ attributes, such as the required knowledge, attitudes and behaviours, associated with a conducive coaching relationship and subsequent coaching results.

    Design - The SR review process stipulates a priori protocol which specifies the review topic, questions/hypotheses, (refined through expert consultation and consultation of any existing reviews in the field, and replicable review methods including data extraction logs).

    Methods - The initial search elicited 23,611 coaching papers using 58 search terms from eight electronic databases (e.g. PsyINFO). Following initial sifts, 140 studies were screened further using seven inclusion criteria. Study results from the included papers were integrated through Narrative Synthesis.

    Conclusion - This SR highlighted that the coaching relationship is a key focus of coaching research and practice, where professional psychological training /background is necessary to understand and manage coachee’s emotional reactions. The review also highlighted that coaches’ attributes have a significant influence on the effectiveness of coaching process and results. The review concludes with a proposal for an initial Coaching Psychologist Competency Framework to underpin future studies, and notes the short comings of existing competency based frameworks for coaching practice.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)120-136
    Number of pages17
    JournalInternational Coaching Psychology Review
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2014


    • coaching psychology
    • coaching relationship
    • coaching psychologist attributes
    • systematic review
    • competency framework


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