PhD in Business and Organizational Management

Change beyond goals: the client in the context of the working alliance in coaching

Tünde Erdös

2021, ABRI dissertation series, printed by Haveka

What is the client’s role in the change process in coaching? Does working alliance strengthen / weaken or rather cause client’s growth and development? Most importantly, what is goal attainment really about?  

This dissertation comprises two major investigative approaches: a) it looks into how client’s Big Five personality impacts on their authentic self-development over time; and b) how movement synchrony as a coach-client interpersonal process impacts on client’s goal-directed behavior. In both approaches, we explore how working alliance, client’s affect balance as well as client’s emotional and cognitive self-regulation influence these two associations. 

We apply latest technology (MEA, motion energy analysis) to assess video-taped nonverbal interactions between coach and client and compare coded synchrony data with client’s perceived level of self-regulation and working alliance after each session. A pre-coaching questionnaire on the Big Five and a post-coaching questionnaire three months after completion of coaching measure client’s goal-directed behavior and authentic self-development. 

Findings show that clients grow beyond goals through coaching. It is through process research that we can reveal how client characteristics influence their becoming a congruent self. Interaction processes reveal that movement synchrony helps and harms client’s self-regulation. Finally, contrary to current knowledge, working alliance appears to not cause outcomes in coaching. 

Visit the university website to learn more about the researcher’s affiliation: