THE FUTURE OF COACHING Activating human potential through reflective growth.

Technological innovation, workplace transformation, and ecological change call for universal action.

Coaching can answer that call. Inspired by the Shaping the Future of Coaching Convening, the Future of Coaching Collection explores evolving trends within the coaching discipline, including coaching supervision, team and niche coaching, the roles of technology and artificial intelligence, social return on investment and measuring impact, and neuroscience insights.

Transdisciplinary collaboration bridges the gap between coaching practice and research


Coaching practice has outpaced research, leaving room for research growth


Transdisciplinary collaboration can realign coaching research and practice


By updating coaching research to match its practice, coaches and clients will benefit

Coaching is a relatively new field and is constantly evolving.

From early studies using case examples, coach-client reflections, and observation, institutions are now pooling qualitative studies to validate these findings through statistics.

Wisdom Weaver Dr. Erik de Haan describes how collecting qualitative and quantitative research in the coaching field creates a global view of how coaching works and what questions remain to be solved.

“On the quantitative side, we now have more than 200 studies…and we have 35 randomized control trials now, and that’s amazing too, so we’ve just submitted a meta-analysis based on only randomized control trials, and that will be the first in our field.”

Meta-analysis — statistical analysis that combines results of multiple scientific studies — and objective measures are key markers of a healthy discipline because they are essential for researchers to test hypotheses and adapt models. On Day One of the Future of Coaching Convening, both Wisdom Weaver Dr. Melvin Smith and Wisdom Weaver Dr. Michael Cavanagh noted an absence of control trials and longitudinal studies specifically exploring coaching competencies. In response, several Wisdom Weavers reflected on opportunities to strengthen knowledge in the field.

Do models in human behavior and helping professions have limits?

Michael raised the question, “Are there actually boundaries? I mean, a lot of the techniques that we use in coaching borrow directly from therapy.” However, a key foundation for coaching ethics requires coaches to explain to their clients the exact purpose and limitations of coaching. For example, the coaching agreement often begins by outlining how coaching is not therapy. 

Taking on outside roles can detract from the uniqueness of a coach.

Wisdom Weaver Dr. Sandra Diller outlines the impact of unclear boundaries for the field and for practice explaining, “I think it’s also important for us to differentiate coaching from other professions and say okay, we are not a mentor or trainer…coaching as a single profession and not try to do everything, because right now, it feels like we have to have every competence; leader, coach, trainer, and mentor; like to have every competence that’s I think quite impossible.” Partnering with other disciplines to explore coaching through novel lenses has potential challenges. Still, this partnership may also narrow down what makes coaching unique among the helping professions.

The future of coaching practice is holistic

Coaches partner with their clients to define and work towards meaningful change in self-actualization, goal setting, or professional skills. Transdisciplinary research has the potential to expand how coaches approach this work with a more holistic view of human wellness.

Partnering with other health professionals might answer questions about how coaching integrates into an overall image of human health and flourishing. “And I also think it’s it would be interesting to examine impact of health behaviors like nutrition, hydration, sleep, exercise, as either antecedents or moderators of some of these dynamics, and then, of course, there are coaching practices already that that specifically address clients in neurobiology practices like breathwork, heart math, body scan, somatic coaching, in general, and so these practices may be a place to delve into more broad understanding of these neurobiological mechanisms at play.”