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An exploration of playfulness in coaching

S Wheeler International Coaching Psychology Review 2020

Objective: In light of sparse direct empirical research on adult playfulness in coaching, the objective of this study was to explore playfulness and raise awareness of its presence, requirements, effects, barriers and risks in coaching. Design: This exploratory, inductive qualitative study using thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2013) was based on primary data collection seeking sensitising concepts for exploring and understanding playfulness in coaching. Methods: Semi-structured interviews with 14 coaches working predominantly with corporate clients to explore their reflections and experiences of playfulness in their work. Results: A new working definition is proposed; strong themes were identified in the data of the key factors required for playfulness (relationship, authenticity and presence) and what it may bring to coaching (deepening of relationship, space and lightness). Barriers, risks and areas for future investigations were identified. Conclusions: The data clearly indicates the emergence of playfulness in coaching; however, the study highlights a lack of specific reflection on playfulness. The study of playfulness in coaching has the potential to contribute to increasing our understanding of coaching effectiveness, therefore further investigation is merited.

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