IV Professional practice issues and research

In this part, we will focus upon key issues within coaching psychology practice and explore the evidence by reviewing current literature and research. Important considerations for coaches and coaching psychologists include the navigation and management of boundaries and best practice. In Part IV, we will look at key topics such as the scope of coaching psychology professional practice, ethical principles, and the role of continuing professional development and supervision. The context of the digital age will also be discussed. Next, the complexities of equality, diversity, and their relationship are explored within the coaching and coaching psychology context, as well as their implications in terms of practice and application. Part IV closes with a review of current key research topics and suggestions for future research in the coaching psychology field.

To elaborate, in Chapter 10, Adrian Myers and Tatiana Bachkirova consider themes such as ethics and good practice in coaching psychology, supervision, professional development, and challenges in the digital age within the broader chapter title of boundaries and best practice. The topic of coaching and diversity is discussed by Ho Law in Chapter 11, which highlights themes such as the complexity of diversity in coaching, understanding the psychology of self and intersectionality for diversity coaching practice, and skill development for coaching psychologists within this context. Then in Chapter 12, Yi Ling-Lai and Stephen Palmer explore central themes and findings for the field of coaching psychology research and look at topics such as the effectiveness of psychological coaching approaches and directions for future research.

Boundaries and best practice

Adrian Myers and Tatiana Bachkirova


This chapter considers the role of professional boundaries and best practice in coaching psychology. Professional boundaries describe the scope and limits of professional practices (Doel et al., 2010). The concept of Best Practice emerged in healthcare in the 1970s and 1980s (Nelson, 2014, p. 1508) and is used to refer to a protocol or guidelines (e.g., “best practice guidelines”); some equivalent or similar terms are evidence-based or clinical practice guidelines (Nelson 2014, p. 1510). Boundaries and best practices are important in the field of coaching psychology not only in protecting the coachee and ensuring the delivery of a professional service but also in safeguarding the provider of those services and the reputation of the practice.

This chapter will begin with an overview of the boundaries of coaching psychology practice and consider where the lines might be drawn between coaching psychology and related disciplines. This is important because it is not possible to state what a boundary transgression might be without first defining the scope of a professional practice. A discussion on how ethical principles are promoted in coaching psychology will follow. Managing ethical boundaries will then be considered, particularly in counselling and psychotherapy, where the transgression of boundaries presents a risk for coaching psychologists. A review of online work will follow as this is becoming increasingly common in coaching practice and raises challenging ethical issues. The importance of continued professional development and supervision will finally be considered as ways to help coaching psychologists and coaches drawing on coaching psychology to work ethically and effectively within professional boundaries on an ongoing basis.

References to best practices will be considered as an integral part of the chapter as best practices are relevant not only to maintain high ethical standards but also to provide an effective service. While many references will be made to the British Psychological Society and the UK, these references are intended to be illustrative of the principles and practices which can be achieved in other nations already promoting or aspiring to promote coaching psychology. Practices in other countries will also be highlighted. Similarly, while this chapter is written specifically within the framework of coaching psychology, it is likely to be of interest to all coaches who want to explore what they can learn from the application of the principles of psychology and the high professional standards and practices expected of coaching psychologists.

This chapter addresses:

  • • the issue of defining the boundaries of coaching psychology;
  • • the importance and practice of ethical principles in coaching psychology;
  • • managing boundaries with other practices;
  • • good practice in the digital age; and
  • • continuing professional development including supervision.
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