Journal Article

Beautiful ideas that can make us ill: Implications for coaching.


A moral conundrum for philosophy of coaching is the noticeable parallel between the growth of the coaching industry and the unprecedented growth of mental health issues in western societies. Even if wellbeing of employees is not the only purpose of coaching interventions, they should at least not in any way be responsible for its undermining. Unfortunately, a number of ‘beautiful ideas’ which have become thematic in the coaching industry may be playing a detrimental role at both the personal level and for wellbeing of society as a whole. In this paper we focus on three: ‘Positive Psychology’, ‘Mindfulness’, and ‘Transformational Coaching’. On the face of it these ‘beautiful ideas’ appear to be unquestionably beneficial. However, they have been largely accepted into the mainstream thinking of coaches without too much critical consideration. The aim of this paper is to explore the shadow side of these beautiful ideas for the wellbeing of people in organisations and the role of coaching in relation to them. Our intention is to start a challenging conversation about a paradoxical situation in which that which is meant to scaffold our wellbeing initiatives may be making significant contributions to a lack of wellbeing.

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Bachkirova, Tatiana
Borrington, Simon

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Business and Management


Year of publication: 2020
Date of RADAR deposit: 2020-06-05

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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