Psychodynamic Coaching in the Workplace Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Systemic Psychodynamic Coaching in the Workplace:

Workplace coaching is a term that refers to the process of equipping people in the working environment with necessary tools, opportunities, and knowledge for total development in order to enhance their effectiveness from an individual, organizational, and work perspective. Workplace coaching has emerged as a major concept in modern organizations since leaders, researchers, and organizations have identified it as a crucial competency in leadership and management (Cacioppe, n.d.). The increase in this practice has also been attributed to the fact that employees continue to request for coaching. As an important competency in leadership and management, workplace coaching has assumed different perspectives and approaches because of the existence of various coaching models such as Systemic Psychodynamic Coaching model.

The Concept of Workplace Coaching:

As previously mentioned, the concept of workplace coaching can be defined as the knowledge, skills, and processes through which people engage themselves in making the maximum impact and continually developing themselves and organizations in light of constant change. While this coaching process utilizes similar communication processes with therapy or counseling, it is not the same as counseling or therapy. The difference between the two is attributed to the fact that therapy focuses on resolution and healing of the past while workplace coaching focuses on creativity, action, and performance. Organizations are increasingly using workplace coaching because it is a lever for unlocking potential, an approach to change, and a means to enhance performance ("Effective Coaching in the Workplace," n.d.). In light of ongoing changes in the corporate world, workplace coaching helps in enhancing performance in individuals, groups, and the entire organization. This has in turn resulted in increased focus and interest on the workplace coaching as individuals and organizations recognizing its benefits.

Psychodynamic Coaching in the Workplace:

Psychodynamic coaching is one of the approaches used in workplace coaching to enhance individual and organizational performance. Actually, psychodynamic coaching is considered as an offer to organizational leaders and employees who are in difficulties (Beck, 2011). When this process is used in the working environment, it is usually in relation to various situations in the workplace or linked to private issues. Psychodynamic coaching is used in both cases because of strong link between private problems and situations linked to the workplace. However, personal patterns and habits can be difficult to deal with in certain contexts when using psychodynamic coaching.

The use of psychodynamic coaching in the workplace also involves the use of two conceptual approaches or schools of thought i.e. object relations theory and conflict theory. As the basic foundation for classical psychoanalytic theory, conflict theory is based on the fact that people have a series of unconscious feelings and possess complex internal psychological structures (Kilburg, 2004, p.251). In contrast, object relationship theory argues that people go through a series of developmental stages that contribute to formation of relational patterns that remain largely unconscious for many. In essence, these approaches provide insights regarding inner mental and emotional lives of individuals that can be used to develop various conceptual tools and intervention mechanisms to change human behavior.

In addition to these varying conceptual approaches, psychodynamic coaching in the workplace is based on psychodynamic theory, which focuses on understanding the internal world of humans and its link to behaviors in the outer world. The outer world in this case basically refers to other people, the society, and organizations. The theory posits that all human beings have a dynamic inner world characterized with ongoing interactions between the conscious and unconscious mind (Sandler, 2011, p.17).

Systemic Psychodynamic Coaching in Workplace Practice:

Systemic Psychodynamic coaching is one of the psychodynamic coaching approaches that have informed the practice of coaching in the workplace. One of the major influences of this model on the practice of coaching in the workplace is that it has contributed to increased focus on making unconscious processes conscious as an original strategy for creating awareness (Azmatullah, 2013, p.141). This is based on the fact that an individual's ego tends to protect itself or others so as to understand the outer world in a meaningful way. Consequently, when anxiety is stimulated, several kinds of defense mechanisms unconsciously emerge to generate behavioral changes.

In the practice of coaching in the workplace, Systemic Psychodynamic coaching incorporates determining when and where these defensive mechanisms are used by a leader or organization. This process seeks to identify whether there is a good foundation for trust to thrive in a relationship as well as evaluating whether family dynamics are replicated in the working environment. Notably, the coaching process will involves the use of transference and counter-transference mechanisms to assess what is taking place in the emotional space between the coach and individual being coached. The use of these different techniques helps in the formation of a hypothesis regarding the motivational systems techniques and motivational models that are being utilized in the workplace.

The other way with which Systemic Psychodynamic coaching model influence coaching in the workplace is by providing the basis for examining the interplay between conscious and unconscious mental procedures. This implies that coaching in the workplace based on this model revolves around understanding the connectedness and relationship of everything, especially the mental processes in a person's mind (Motsoaledi, 2009, p.106). Once these processes are understood, the model provides the foundation with which interventions are made from various roles including coach, member, consultant, and leader. This is primarily because the coach has the ability to understand the motivational systems from the link between several sub-systems in a social unit. The motivating factors are rooted in the conscious and unconscious processes of people, groups, and organizations.

Third, Systemic Psychodynamic coaching informs coaching in the workplace by strengthening an understanding of organizations through demonstrating the challenges of the organization's leadership and management. This understanding enables these leaders and managers to take effective action and promote their psychic development. Organizations leaders and managers understand the organization through this coaching model by providing insights regarding social interactions and defenses entrenched in work systems.

The use of Systemic Psychodynamic coaching model in workplace coaching provides an understanding of organizational psychodynamics. In this case, the coaching process involves helping clients in evaluating the dynamic procedures of identifying, making, and assuming organizational roles (Passmore, Peterson & Freire, 2012, p.375). The understanding of organizational psychodynamics is influenced by Organizational Role Analysis (ORA), which focuses on the interaction between psychological and social influences on the individual-in-role. Through this model, workplace coaching explores how the organization becomes a significant aspect of an employee or client's internal world.

Example of the Use of Systemic Psychodynamic Model in Workplace Coaching:

The influence of Systemic Psychodynamic coaching model in the practice of coaching in the workplace is demonstrated through an example of how it can be used in addressing a workplace issue or challenge. An example of a scenario is the workplace that could benefit from the use of this coaching model is a situation where coworkers demeans or downgrade the capabilities of another employee. As one of the most common abrasive behaviors in the workplace, this situation involves the use of insults, abusive language, and criticism (Crawshaw, 2005). It is also considered as a means of workplace bullying or mobbing since it is a form of workplace aggression.

In dealing with this situation, the coaching process should incorporate examining the role of empathy in the development of less abrasive behaviors. This can be achieved through the use Systemic psychodynamic coaching, which will help in examining the psychodynamics of the abrasive behaviors and bullying in the workplace. Generally, the dynamics of workplace bullying include the loss of intrapsychic rhythms in the psyche of the perpetrator of abrasive behavior and the victim (White, 2013, p.31). The coaching model will be used to examine the conscious and unconscious processes in the bully that makes him/her to demonstrate such…

Sources Used in Document:


Azmatullah, S. (2013). The coach's mind manual: enhancing coaching practice with neuroscience, psychology and mindfulness. New York, NY: Routledge

Beck, U.C. (2011). Psychodynamic coaching: focus and depth. Great Britain: The Studio

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Cacioppe, R. (n.d.). Why Workplace Coaching and Why Now? Retrieved May 19, 2014, from

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