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SAFE PASSAGE. How do coach-mentors describe their experience of supporting clients undergoing transformational change. The review of an invigorating journey…. A phenomenological inquiry into coach-mentors’ lived experience using IPA (interpretative phenomenological analysis). Elke Hanssmann

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How do coach-mentors describe their experience of supporting clients undergoing transformational change

The review of an invigorating journey…..

A phenomenological inquiry into coach-mentors’ lived experience using IPA (interpretative phenomenological analysis)

Elke Hanssmann

10th Annual Coaching and Mentoring Research Conference

Oxford Brookes University

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Aim of the study

to investigate

the “magic ingredients”

which together result in personal transformation

by exploring

expert coach-mentors’ experiences

of supporting clients

undergoing transformational change.

Research questions

What is the nature of the support coaches provide that enables transformational change?

What core components need to come together to result in transformational change?

What happens between coach and client that results in transformational change?

The Research Context

  • A faith-based international NGO

  • 6000 + staff

  • Staff representing 100 + nationalities

  • Branches in 115 + countries

  • Holistic staff development integral to NGO core values

Methodology – considered and rejected

1. Case study

strong focus on the context (Yin, 2009) would shift the emphasis away from what I was really seeking to explore (expert coaches’ real-life experiences)

2. Heuristic inquiry

wary of the strong focus on myself using ‘self-search, self-dialogue and self-discovery’ at the expense of learning from other exceptional coaches (Moustakas, 1990, p.11)

Methodology – considered and rejected

3. Transcendental phenomenology

the assumption that the researcher could achieve ‘a pure and absolute transcendental ego, a completely unbiased and presupposition-less state’ (Moustakas, 1994, p.60) seemed problematic und undesirable for me.

Methodology The Research Design

1. Qualitative

‘methodologies that celebrate richness, depth, nuance, context, multi-dimensionality and complexity’ (Mason, 2002, p.1)

  • Phenomenological = lived experience/real-life accounts

    ‘fine-tuned study participants’ own terms’ (Ritchie, 2003, p.27)

The Research Design

3. IPA

(Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis)

3a) overtly interpretative

recognises the ‘detective work…required by the researcher’ to bring forth the ‘phenomenon ready to shine’ (Smith et al., 2009, p.35)

using ‘double hermeneutic’ where ‘the researcher is trying to make sense of... [how] participants...make sense of their world’ (Clarke, 2009, p.38)

The Research Design

3b) phenomenological

deep, nuanced and detailed exploration of lived experience and ‘the meaning… bestowed by the participant on experience’ (Smith et al., 2009, p.33)

3c) idiographic nature - committed to giving full attention to each case

The Research DesignSemi-structured interviews with‘information-rich cases whose study will illuminate the question under study’ (Patton, 2002, p.230)

Creativity and Innovation

Kvale and Brinkmann (2009, p.86) describe interviewing as an art that involves ‘intuition, creativity, improvisation and breaking the rules’ with interview techniques that may be ‘unconventional and novel’

Transcript & Analysis

Clustering and Coding

Findings – Master-Themes

Master - Theme 1:

Coach-Mentoring as Hospitality

Master – Theme 2:

Inviting Clients into their Future

Master –Theme 3:

The Mystery of Metamorphosis

Coach-Mentoring as Hospitality

  • intentional creation of a

    transformational safe space

  • Use of self as primary instrument key

  • Loving dis-interest/ non-possesive caring


Tandem features: challenge

and support

Generosity (resources, insight,

life, access, vulnerability

and self-disclosure)

Synergetic effect of

coaches’ delight

Inviting clients into their future

Seeing and articulating

potential – transformational

power of hope

Befriending the future – reframing

The power of presence while

holding turmoil

Holistic growth into a larger life – authenticity enhances capacity

The Mystery of Metamorphosis

Importance of clients’ intrinsic

change readiness

Chrysalis – the best is yet to come

Coaching with a long-term view

Spirituality as a anchor and

resource to relinquish results

Limitations & future research

Focus only on coach-mentors – not clients

Same organisation-though different countries

Time frame

Future research:


Corporate context

The client’s side

Questions, comments….


For coming

For taking an interest

For listening

For engaging

Elke Hanssmann

Coaching, Training, Consulting

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