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My MSc Project: What I’m wondering

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At this time of writing in January 2024, I am about to select the topic for my final project in my MSc in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology. Here are a few of the topics I’m considering, while listed individually, there may be connections between them or ways to weave some of the ideas together.

Topic 1: The Time In Between

Much of professional coach training and research in coaching psychology focuses on foundational skills, competencies, and approaches to the live, synchronous experience of coaching.

I’m wondering:

  • What happens for clients in the time in between coaching sessions?
  • How much learning and growth takes place after a coaching session or after a coaching engagement has come to a close?
  • How do takeaway activities, “field work”, method sheets, or other practices and protocols support client growth in a coach-client engagement?
  • Where will AI come into the mix? (How is it already?)
  • Can coaching take place asynchronously?
  • And what about the time in between for coaches—aside from reflection, mentor coaching, coaching supervision, and professional development—what in that time and space takes place that generates positive outcomes for their coaching practice?

Topic 2: Broadening Perspectives

“No gap, no coaching.” This was a saying my program lead used to say often. Indeed, the coaching experience is about realizing a different outcome than one has going into it. Changes in mindset, changes in behaviour, changes in outcomes—whatever the change, the work of positive psychology practice and of coaching inevitably involves some changes in perspectives.

I’m wondering:

  • What are ways coaches can help their clients consider and meaningfully explore new and different points of views and perspectives?
  • What role can (or should) the coach actively play in this process? How much is best left for the client to reach for themselves?
  • Are there conditions that support greater or broader perspective-taking? For example, are there physiological protocols (exercise, mindfulness, meditation, breath work) that can enhance cognitive agility and creativity?
  • How could large language models and generative AI help individuals explore new possibilities and perspectives?
  • What are the ethical considerations of how actively and directed a coach can or should be with offering their own points of views as a source of information for a client to reflect upon for their own perspective-taking?

Topic 3: Coach Client Diagnostic

What if we had a coach-client fit diagnostic? Positive psychology has a concept known as “Person Activity Fit” – i.e. that certain positive psychology interventions are better-suited for certain individuals and this can be assessed through a diagnostic. In the practice of coaching, a key step in the coaching engagement is the matching of a coach with a client. The “fit” of a coach and client is often the foundation for their working alliance and may be one of the determinants of the efficacy of the coaching engagement.

I’m wondering:

  • Similar to how there is a “Person Activity Fit Diagnostic” for matching an individual to positive psychology interventions, what if there was a similar method for assessing “coach client fit”?
  • What are the variables that increase the likelihood of a strong coach-client fit?
  • Can coach-client fit be operationalized into dimensions that could result in a simple coach-client fit diagnostic or assessment device?

Topic 4: A method to integrate the practice and research of Positive Psychology Coaching

When it comes to coaching psychology practice and research, there is a need: (a) for greater research conducted in “real-world” settings; (b) to gather research from the perspectives of both the client and the coach; (c) to increase the frequency of data collection from both client and coach; (d) to understand the efficacy of different coaching techniques; (e) to understand both proximal and distal outcomes from short-term and longitudinal data.

I’m wondering:

  • What if there were an application that placed a suite of positive psychology coaching tools in the hands of coaches and coachees, that simultaneously weaves in research with practice?
  • Is there a way to have coaches and clients share anonymized data from their day-to-day coaching experience that can stored in an open sourced data set for future positive psychology coaching researchers to carry out research?

Topic 5: The use of generative AI in coaching

As the technology and application of AI in coaching rapidly advances, there are boundless questions and considerations emerging.

I’m wondering:

  • How might AI play a complementary role in the coach-client engagement? Is there a place for AI to enter into the “space” as a third party?
  • What are the differences when an insight is arrived at with a human coach compared to an AI coach?
  • Does technology-mediated coaching work?
  • Can AI create a psychologically safe space for clients?
  • How can AI assist coach training and on-going professional development?
  • If we use AI in any form in our coaching work, how do we deal with its innate biases?
  • How might a GPT contribute to a group coaching experience?
  • How might the work of building GPT Coaches help coach practitioners better-understand their own practice, experience, and competencies as coaches?