Volume 4, Article 2

Volume 4, Article 2

Improving the efficacy of coaching: Outlining reflexive hindering
D. Lyall and A. Fillery-Travis

Citation: Lyall, D. & Fillery-Travis, A. (2023). Improving the efficacy of coaching: Outlining reflexive hindering. International Journal of Coaching Psychology, 4, 2, 1-18.


Background: In executive coaching the coachee’s motivation to change is critical for an effective outcome. There is evidence however that coachees occasionally present as motivated to change and yet seem unable to progress despite logically understanding the steps required. It appears that at some level they question the appropriateness of the changes and thus nonconsciously curb their enactment. We have named this phenomenon ‘reflexive hindering’ and have sought to describe it in a neurobiologically based manner.

Method: This paper describes a review of this phenomenon within the relevant literature specifically exploring common terms associated with reduced coachee efficacy, the literature on  coachee inner obstacles and pertinent concepts from personal change and psychology.

Results: The reviewed literature identified that the phenomenon was previously acknowledged, although under the generalisation of ‘inner obstacles’. The methods advocated for navigating such obstacles varied by coaching approach: ranging from disengagement to therapeutically-based engagement. The phenomenon was also identified in psychotherapy clients and  compassion focused therapy (CFT), for example, uses neuro-education to improve those therapeutic outcomes.

Discussion: In this paper we define reflexive hindering and delineate it beyond the generalisation of ‘inner obstacles’, using a seldomly used neurobiologically-based style. We outline how reflexive hindering manifests during coaching and, drawing from CFT, identify that neuroeducation may prove beneficial in enabling the coachee to work through the phenomena.

Conclusion: We suggest that reflexive hindering within coaching warrants further research, especially to develop a coaching application across multiple coaching approaches for improving coaching efficacy for reflectively-hindered coachees.

Keywords: Coaching, reflexive hindering, self-sabotaging, inner obstacles, coaching efficacy

Processing dates: Submitted: 28 July 2022; Resubmitted: 21 November 2022; Accepted: 5 December 2023; Published: 15 March 2023


Deni Lyall is with Winning Performance Associates Ltd, Clee Barn, Farlow, Kidderminster, DY14 0HZ, UK
Email: deni@winningperformance.co.uk


Annette Fillery-Travis is with the Wales Academy for Professional Practice and Applied Research, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen, Wales SA31 3EP, UK
Email: A.Fillery-Travis@uwtsd.ac.uk