Personal Development, Productivity

The coaching roots pulled out from the psychological science

Coaching is a form of development in which a person called a coach supports a learner or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing training and guidance. Occasionally, coaching may mean an informal relationship between two people, of whom one has more experience and expertise than the other and offers advice and guidance as the latter learns; but coaching differs from mentoring in focusing on specific tasks or objectives, as opposed to more general goals or overall development.

It Is often used as a method to help people move from one state to another. The American coaching association states that by using coaching people move from beliefs to real performance and goals achievement. 

Coaching is widely used in modern organizations as a tool to help talent growth and development.  But as a tool, it has its roots in other areas and sciences. One of them is Psychology. Before the neurobiology has started to study healthy and high performing brains, many coaching models were extracted from the work of psychotherapists. Some of the most widely used models of coaching have their roots in domains such as Gestalt psychology, Cognitive and Social Psychology and Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP).

The model, that is widely issued, is based on beliefs, perception, thoughts, and feelings that are generating outcomes in the form of performance, behavior, and actions.

Perception is associated with the filtering of information, based on our beliefs and goals. Human beings filter information that is seen as irrelevant, according to the filters we have set.


They are also called Self Talk. Thoughts are associated with the words and attitudes within our internal world. These are also known as a person private dialog with himself.


This category is also named as our Comfort zone. It involves honesty about words, attitudes, and behaviors with which we are in ease and with those that make the person feel inner discomfort. Stepping into situations which evoke feelings of discomfort can affect the person performance.  If that happens the one will need greater consciousness and preparation to deliver the performance needed.


This relates to the outcomes aligned or behavior expected. It is connected with internal experiences of satisfaction, failure, disappointment, etc.


The model of linking Beliefs to Performance is a basic one to help you achieve results by using coaching. To diagnose where you stay at the moment and plan for greater performance you will need to do some analysis. This analysis must be made on the information, collected through several questions you must ask yourself. Some of them are:

  • What is your and your team potential?
  • What motivates you to move forward?
  • What is your learning capacity?
  • How you define success or failure?

To get the best of the situation it is important to understand that when constructing your set of question, they have to have a construct that is acceptable to the environment you exist in..

In the book: “Appreciative coaching: A positive process for change”, authors wrote: ”Some coaching conversations have moments of transformation in perception that allow clients to recognize a new way of thinking or to see a situation that can move them forward in a positive way.  In appreciative coaching, these shifts are referred to as pivotal moments. When clients pivot, they  see their situation  with  new eyes and experience accompanying positive emotional response or relief, hope and often excitement.”


A branch of Psychology, developed by  Martin Seligman in the late 1980s, called Positive psychology, has studied and promoted several personal characteristics as genius, creativity,  talent,  happiness, and fulfillment.  It focused on positive emotions, positive individual traits, and positive communities. The Positive Psychology has been further developed by  Tim Gallwey through his books from the series “Inner Games”. In his books he writes that:

“Performance = Potential – Interference”. 

In other words, a person must first assess where it is, then continues with self-talk, which is more connected with planning and execution of a strategy, to reach a state or place in the future. During the process of execution of the plans, a person will be able to build self-confidence to support growth.


Another psychological theory and approach, which principles are widely used in coaching is the theory of the Transactional  Analysis(TA). This theory has emerged from the work of the American psychologist Eric Berne, who was on his way to revisit the work of Sigmund Freud, together with a group of colleagues. Through their work, they have enabled people to recognize how the choice of words and states in different relationships underly meaning and how they are both transmitted and received.

The core idea of the transactional analysis is based on the three egos states Parent, Adult, and Child, which govern the behavior the person exhibits to or receives from others by competitively working with the different states.

The Parent is explained as part of the ego that acts as a protector and judge. It sets norms and standards for personal behavior.

The Adult is the part of the ego that works things out by looking at the facts from an existing situation, to come up with a decision.  The Adult gathers data from the outside and the inner world of the person. It can be influenced by the inner dialog of the ego or the personal traits that can appear.  The Adult will notice what the Child wants and how it feels,  what the Parent says and what memories or earlier relevant experience is stored.  It sorts out the best alternatives and estimates probabilities and plans for decision making.

The Child is like a very young and inexperienced person, with all desires and feelings of childhood.  The Child as a person may have two different facets: Natural  Child, which is more like a person living mostly for the pleasure and Adapted Child, who is adaptive to the surrounding world changes.  

By using the transactional analysis different states of ego, coaching as a method differentiates different stages of the process for growing talents mind and psychics.

THE GOALS as a tool  to accelerate effectiveness and performance

Another large topic for coaching, having its roots in Psychology for the last 30+ years is one of the GOALS.  The topic can be divided into two other sub-topics: “Performance Goals” and “Learning Goals”. 

Performance goals

Very strong focus in organizations, during the last 30+ years, has been devoted to the Performance Goals.  So many authors have written articles, books, etc. for this sub-topic.  One of the authors contributed to the development of this sub-topic is Heller, who states: “Effective goals are those, constructed with  precision, so  as to enable recognition of all  relevant facets of the landmark, which  are critical  contributors to  reaching the destination.” In his opinion, such assets are likely to be different processes, connected with finance, customers, legal requirements, etc. The performance goals are defined with characteristics that enable their fulfilling and have to be structured in a  S.M.A.R.T way.

Each organization has to define its own format of processes for focusing employees attention to outcomes and targets.  For performance outcome goals to b more effective, organizations should set a reward, that can affect person choice on what to focus, their effort and persistence.  Also, person focus should allow them to adjust effort and level of goal difficulty. Another thing that is crucial in the process of setting performance goals is to have built acknowledgment on persistence until the goal is reached.

To ensure a high level of effectiveness of the person, organizations and leaders should focus on goals that require the person to build new knowledge and skills. If the individual already has the knowledge or has built the skills to achieve the goal, it’s effectiveness will be lower than if the goal challenges them.   

Learning goals

The other big sub-topic that is widely used in psychology and coaching to form goals is about learning. Learning goals have been found to be more effective when performance is a function of the person’s abilities and knowledge.  Behavioral responses of the persons evoke through the choices efforts and persistence. Persons attention is drowned away from the end result, to focus on the delivery of effective processes, knowledge, and abilities, needed by the individual to deliver that is desired by the organization. 

The Learning goals are then set as a system of planned activities, aiming to ensure that the person will grow in knowledge and abilities, and will deliver higher results in a shorter period.   


As powerful as it is, coaching has its roots in other areas. By knowing some of the concepts used in these areas and how are they explained, you will be able easily to accept the coaching concept as a whole and implement it for your own knowledge and capabilities growth. Although Psychology is only one of the areas that coaching has emerged from it is the most significant core for not only coaching but also other theories and tools in the modern approaches for developing talents and boosting growth.


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