Working with young people and youth coaching

Ole Michael Spaten


This chapter seeks to emphasise factors particularly relevant in youth coaching and provide an insight into the work with young people. These reflections are clarified by an examination of a series of coaching sessions. The chapter includes:

  • • an examination of how coaching psychology can be presumed as a form of intervention;
  • • a definition of how coaching, coaching psychology, and postmodern youth can be assumed;
  • • a consideration of how youth coaching—as a sub-discipline in its own right—can be understood with a focus on specific factors in work with emerging adults (young people);
  • • a presentation of five coaching sessions, illustrating how youth coaching appears in practice and which elements can be useful for the coaching psychologist to keep in mind; and
  • • essential “takeaway” and learning points from the practice presented and discussed throughout the chapter.

Coaching is often associated with the business world and performance-related issues, but in recent years, there has been an increased focus on coaching in school and study settings (van Nieuwerburgh & Barr, 2017van Nieuwerburgh Bachkirova 2017). Coaching in this area can be beneficial to young people’s academic work and in general satisfaction with life. Coaching can also help promote mental wellbeing (Hultgren, Palmer, & O'Riordan, 2016) in the young person (Robson-Kelly & Nieuwerburgh, 2016) and increase their productivity in school. We, therefore, consider it relevant to see which factors apply particularly to coaching work with emerging adults to gain a better understanding of what youth coaching is and what it involves.

What is psychological intervention and coaching psychology?

Psychological intervention is an act—practice—of various sorts aiming at psychological goals. “Intervention” comes from the Latin interventio which means “coming between”; it is used as a psychological concept in which the psychologist helpfully steps in between the client and the problem. The intervention will often be planned based on an assessment and problem-analysis, follow'ed by goalsetting, planning, execution of the intervention, and evaluation of it.

Coaching is one form of psychological intervention and is often based to a marked extent on collaboration and “user co-influence” (Palmer & Whybrow, 2006; Dinos & Palmer 2015). Coaching can be described as a conversation aimed at personal development and improved quality of life (Palmer & Whybrow, 2006; Spaten, 2013). Coaching includes elements of both therapy and consultation but is a discipline in its owm right. Psychology contributes to evidence-based knowledge, theory, psychological models, and practice tools (ibid.). This form of coaching conducted by psychologists is known and defined as coaching psychology—

... a systematic application of validated psychological method and theory, founded in established therapeutic approaches, in which the coach treats, encourages or develops clients or groups to make optimum use of their resources in both private and working life, or coaches them in making changes to problematic or unhealthy patterns of thought, feeling or behaviour.

(Spaten, Imer, & Palmer, 2012)

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