Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Social workers, Personal coaching, Executive coaching, Private practice social work, Psychotherapy, Client-oriented psychotherapy, Social workers-Professional ethics, Social work education, Managed mental health care, Social work, Professional coaching, Life coaching, Life coaches, Executive coaches, Social work practice, Strenghts-based perspectives, Client-centered approaches, Social work identity, Professional ethics, Social worker well being, Dissatisfaction, Disempowerment, Higher-functioning clients, Coaching efficacy, Private practice, Managed care, Social workers-Psychology


This exploratory, qualitative study of social worker/coach practitioners elucidates themes about what motivates social workers to become coaches, how they integrate these roles in practice, and how this integration impacts their social work identity, adherence to professional ethics, and the types of clients they serve. The sample of 14 participants was recruited through professional listserves, social media, and a snowball technique. Key findings include that participants who integrated the role of coaching into their practices were able to connect more closely to a strengths-based and client-centered approach, feel more authentic and empowered, and make use of training in both disciplines to enhance services to clients and gain a professional edge in both fields. Most participants experienced a shift in the major focus of their work from serving clients with complex needs to integrating work with higher functioning clients who sought coaching services. Findings point to the need for more skills-based and introspective education among social workers, and support for client-centered and strengths-based approaches to social work practice. Implications for future research looking at sources of dissatisfaction and disempowerment among social workers, as well as the impact of adopting coaching practice on the field of social work, are discussed.




v, 128 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 109-117)