By Tamara Rosier, PhD, Research Committee Chair
As ADD coaches, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our coaching. We read about positive psychology, resilience, cognitive hardiness, and hope theory with intent to impact our clients’ lives. We incorporate these theories into our practice and wonder if our observations of our success mean we really are making a difference. Fortunately, studies like this one provide reinforcement for what we felt was right.
Researchers Green, Grant, & Rynsaardt (2007) examined the effectiveness of a life coaching program claimed to enhance cognitive hardiness, hope, and decrease depression and anxiety. Their study provides examination of positive psychological approaches applied to coaching, as well as, insight into a specific demographic and educational setting.
Green, Grant, & Rynsaardt used a randomized controlled experimental design to determine the efficacy of an evidence-based life coaching program that had two key components: cognitive hardiness and hope. Cognitive hardiness, an important dimension of resilience, refers to one’s ability to face stressful situations and provides protection from possible damaging effects. Hope theory is the process of thinking about one’s goals, along with the motivation to move toward those goals, and the ways to achieve those goals.
Each participant was asked to complete assessments on cognitive hardiness, hope and anxiety and stress. Fifty-six female high school students (mean age 16 years) were randomly allocated to an individual life coach (N=28) or to a wait-list control group (N=28). Ten teachers were trained in theories and techniques of coaching psychology. Participants were randomly allocated to a Teacher-Coach with whom they met individually for 10 sessions over two school terms. The design of this study, a randomized and controlled design, provides the greatest reliability and validity of statistical estimates of treatment effects.
The cognitive-behavioral framework life coaching program involved participants examining aspects of their lives and identifying two issues that they wished to be coached on; one school-related and one personal. In order to raise the coachee’s personal awareness of their current situation, each coaching session involved the setting of session goals, followed by a discussion of what was going on in the coachee’s life. Participants were then coached to identify personal resources that could be utilized in moving towards their goals, and to develop self-generated solutions and specific action steps, systematically working through the self-regulation cycle of setting goals, developing action plans, monitoring and evaluating progress.
The results of this study were impressive. Participants in the life coach group significantly increased their scores on the hope and cognitive hardiness scales and decreased their scores on the anxiety and stress scales, while the control group remained relatively the same. Life coaching was associated with significant increases in levels of cognitive hardiness and hope, and significant decreases in levels of depression.
This study of evidence-based life-coaching intervention for senior high school students adds to our evidence-based repertoire. It provides preliminary evidence that a cognitive-behavioral, solution-focused life coaching group program can be effective in increasing hope and cognitive hardiness, and in decreasing self-reported symptoms of depression. Although this study illustrated the effectiveness of life coaching in a ‘normal’ high school population, there are significant take aways for ADD coaches. The ADD population, as a whole, tends to struggle with anxiety, cognitive hardiness, and hope. This study reinforces the use of positive psychological techniques, in particular, the development of resilience and hope. In addition, the study supports the use of
• Goal-oriented coaching
• Cognitive-behavioral techniques
• Self-efficacy models
• Self-regulation models
• Development of action plans
Green, S., Grant, A, & J. Rynsaardt (2007). Evidence-based life coaching for senior high school students: Building hardiness and hope. International Coaching Psychology Review, Vol. 2 No. 1, March 2007.
Tamara Rosier, PhD, has been an administrator, professor, leadership consultant, public speaker, and high school teacher. Now she is a passionate Leadership and ADHD Coach who helps her clients develop more confidence, smoother communication, closer relationships, and increased success. Contact her at 616-648-1969 and firstname.lastname@example.org.