Topsie VandenBosch, LMSW
Evidence-Based Coaching: 4 Frameworks Your Coaching Toolbelt Needs to Better Support Your Clients
In the wild wild west of an unregulated industry such as the field of Coaching- it's easy to buy into the hype that “anybody” can become a coach.
Although this is partly true- I would argue that there’s massive responsibility that comes along with the job.
In my professional opinion- it’s important that regardless of the ease of access to a field, Coaches should still hold themselves accountable to a high standard of ethics.
This is important when you are responsible for contributing to a person's professional and personal development.
According to the International Coaching Federation- which considers itself to be the gold standard of coaching- they predicted in a 2020 report that Coaching will be a 20 billion dollar market by the year 2025.
This means that more than ever- your expertise, skillset, ethics, and how you treat your clients- will be what helps you stand out from the masses.
What's that corny saying? “People will forget what you said, but they won't forget how you made them feel” or some shit like that😂
So in this blog post, you’re going to learn:
what evidence-based coaching is;
What evidence-based coaching is not;
How evidence-based coaching supports your clients;
4 components of evidence-based coaching;
4 evidence-based frameworks that your coaching toolbelt needs.
You excited? Let's jump in.
What Is Evidence-Based Coaching?
What is evidence-based coaching?
Evidence-based coaching is an approach rooted in scientific research studies conducted to demonstrate proven techniques that work for the presenting problem or issue.
The coaching strategies that are used have proven themselves to create supportive outcomes for the individual when facilitated and used correctly.
Evidence-based coaching allows for the Coach to rely on a research-backed approach instead of over-relying on their intuition or life experience.
These coaching approaches should be:
and should take into account the clients’ lived experiences to dictate how useful the coaching technique is.
When clients’ are no longer benefiting from the coaching method- it’s important for Coaches to be flexible in their approach and to have more in their toolbox (which is what we’ll discuss later on in this blog post).
What Evidence-Based Coaching is NOT
So this is a topic that gets ya girl fired up. And that's the fact that just because you call yourself a “coach”- does not mean that you’re actually using evidence-based coaching techniques.
So here’s a quick rundown of what separates evidence-based coaching from non-evidence-based coaching approaches.
Evidence-based Coaching is NOT:
1. Mimicking the coaching phrases and techniques you’ve heard your therapist or former coach use with you that sounded great.
As someone who has many colleagues and friends who are experts in adult learning psychology- mimicking is one of the lowest forms of learning. Just because you mimic something- doesn’t mean that you actually know it.
2. Coaching from your own personal agenda and opinions based on your past experience with the problem or goal that your client has.
Just because you have past personal experience with the presenting problem or goal that your coaching client has- doesn’t mean that you need to use your past life experience as your only guide to supporting them.
It creates an over-reliance on your own past experiences to adequately support the goal or problem that your client has- which isn’t true.
3. Centered around your own needs for validation that your coaching method works.
When you are deciding on the coaching method or modality to use with clients- it needs to be client-centered and focused- meaning, it needs to make the most sense for the client’s goals, personality, problems, and desires. Coaching clients isn't about your own personal transformation process- it's about the clients.
4. Glorified motivational speaking or being your clients' personal cheerleader.
Ok- so don’t come for me. What I mean by this is that the art of coaching uses skills, methods, and techniques that have an end goal or transformation in mind.
This isn’t an opportunity for you to:
talk your clients’ heads off;
tell them your best “you can do it rah-rah” type of speech;
or to treat them as your personal friend.
This is a professional relationship where the client is working towards accomplishing a goal of theirs. Evidence-based coaching is rooted in scientific and theoretical knowledge.
How Evidence-Based Coaching Better Supports Your Clients
Evidence-based coaching better supports your clients because you provide a clear framework and roadmap for their ability to create and accomplish goals and evaluate and sustain their progress.
Your clients have a better understanding of what to expect from your sessions together- and it allows them to come to your sessions prepared.
Not to mention- evidence-based coaching helps your clients explore possibilities that they never considered, develop new insight into the thoughts and behaviors that affect their goals, and understand themselves better overall.
4 Components of Evidence-Based Coaching
Just because you decide to pull a coaching approach out of thin air- doesn’t necessarily mean that the approach is evidence-based.
As mentioned earlier in this blog post evidence-based coaching is an approach rooted in scientific research, where the outcomes demonstrate proven techniques that work for the presenting problem or issue.
When working with clients, many coaches who have never been professionally trained default to using intuitively driven coaching techniques with their clients.
A few examples include:
Reframing the client's worries or struggles;
re-stating what the client says;
and addressing “limiting beliefs.”
However- those are not evidence-based methods- those are coaching techniques. There are actually 4 components that make up a method evidence-based.
In this section, I’m going to share what I believe the most important ones are.
Let's jump in.
Component 1-Research foundation
Having a research foundation is an important component of an evidence-based coaching method, because it gives credence to the type of problem and solution the method claims to solve.
When a method is research-backed, it means that there was rigorous testing completed to ensure that the results are valid and reliable.
For example, when a doctor goes to medical school, the curriculum provided offers the most up-to-date best practices that doctors need to properly diagnose and treat patients.
Component 2- Empirical evidence
Empirical evidence is objective data that can be verified through observation and experimentation.
When empirical evidence is considered reliable- it means that it can be observed and experimented with.
In the context of coaching, empirical evidence would be the impact that you're able to see from the coaching method being used.
The outcomes and changes that occur as a result of utilizing the coaching method with the client, provide the empirical evidence that the method works.
Component 3: evaluation and improvement
When there is constant evaluation and improvement to an evidence-based coaching method- this means that best practices are constantly being assessed and updated.
For example- in the field of medicine, there is constant evaluation and improvement in the detection and treatment of breast cancer.
This resulted in more measures to ensure earlier detection of breast cancer.
I would also argue that it's important for coaches to constantly evaluate and assess whether an evidence-based coaching method is producing the outcomes the client desired to have.
This results in clients being properly and effectively served.
Component 4: Client-centered
In the field of coaching, I believe that its important that the evidence-based method used supports the clients' desires, goals, and end transformation.
If the coaching method is being used solely because of the Coaches’ personal preference- this could be a sign that the Coach is more focused on their own needs, than the needs of the client.
When a coaching method is client-centered- it increases the likelihood of better results and outcomes.
An example of this in action in a coaching relationship is when coaching goals and objectives are discussed, and the end transformation the client desires.
This discussion should drive the coaching method used, and what the intended outcomes are.
4 Evidence-Based Frameworks Your Coaching Toolbelt Needs
Framework 1: Solution-Focused Coaching
Solution Focused Coaching is a style of coaching where conversations are goal-directed and focused on solutions and the future. It focuses on how to move forward rather than what has gone wrong.
It’s focused on:
asking the client questions;
exploring the strengths, resources, supports
creative problem-solving skills that the client already possesses within them.
An example of this would be a person hiring a career coach because they want to get a higher-paying job.
Instead of most of the sessions exploring why their past jobs didn’t pay them well- there would be a focus on how to make the resume and experience desirable to jobs with higher pay.
Framework 2: Acceptance & Commitment Coaching
Acceptance and Commitment Coaching is rooted in the psychotherapy model of therapy- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
This style of coaching supports clients in dealing head-on with unexpected bumps and struggles that will come up in the pursuit of goals and is designed to encourage flexibility and adaptability to life's stressors.
When a Coach is using this modality with a coaching client, one of the focuses (for example), would be on making sure that clients have many coping skills in their toolbelt to use at any time.
This is what will allow clients to feel resourceful and confident in their ability to cope with struggles that will arise.
Framework 3: Positive Psychology Coaching
Positive Psychology Coaching is an evidence-based approach that focuses on helping clients develop positive thoughts, feelings, relationships & behaviors.
It's important to note that this coaching method does address negative thoughts and feelings a person might have.
However- it primarily appears to focus on how to use positive strengths and values a person has to cope with life's difficulties.
Some examples of positive personal characteristics or strengths that can be used to help a person cope are optimism, resilience, and gratitude.
Framework 4: Narrative Coaching
This is an evidence-based coaching method that supports clients in identifying & reframing negative thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that are affecting their ability to achieve their goals and have a healthy sense of self.
The premise of Narrative Coaching is that the client can:
recognize positive attributes about themselves;
increase their self-esteem;
and see themselves through a new, healthier, and positive perspective.
As you can see in this blog post the art of professional coaching involves more than:
being their “yes” person who only agrees with them;
and using your experience with the problem as a guide for how to support them.
It's also about providing them with a framework and method that serves as an objective guide that helps them get to where they want to go.
Using evidence-based coaching methods allows you to support individuals from all walks of life and backgrounds different than yours- because you aren’t relying on your own life experience and intuition to guide you.
So if you want to stand out from the sea of coaches that are flooding the market in droves- then becoming good at what you do has to be at the top of your mind.
Investing in your professional development and continuing education for your coaching practice- helps to perfect your craft- and helps clients achieve incredible results.
This is a topic that gets me so hyped that I created a self-paced continuing education course for Coaches & Consultants:
Destroy the Mindset Drama is a 7-week self-paced course that teaches coaches & consultants evidence-based coaching methods to elevate their clients' results, and increase client retention.
Inside Destroy the Mindset Drama, you will:
-Receive an in-depth exploration of 3 evidence-based coaching approaches & strategies to include in your coaching toolbox to facilitate deeper transformations with your clients;
-Deep dive into the difference between mindset and mental health and how it shows up with your clients;
-Understand what the 14 foundational coaching skills are that could be missing from your toolbox;
-Be educated on ethical coaching approaches and skills to use with clients of marginalized backgrounds who may experience systemic barriers and unique lived experiences than your own;
-Have access to Resources, Assessments, and Templates to assist with professional development and integration of skills and tools into your practice
-Receive access to a Bonus Guest Expert Training by a Client Learning Expert with expertise in adult learning theory- on creating your unique coaching framework.
So if you desire to join the 160+ students in this course- go to the sales page here and hop inside!