Theorizing embodied interaction in coaching

A Merleau-Pontian perspective on embodied practice

Coaching has expanded as a method of facilitating individual change, performance, and learning. It is generally described in terms of its functions, referring to cognitive and organisational psychology as well as theories of change, theoretical stances, and methodologies from psychotherapy. Theoretical concern for the body as part of the meaning-making process has been piecemeal in coaching, despite growing interest in embodiment in psychology and learning. There are widespread calls in relevant disciplines for stronger theorisation of embodiment. The Merleau-Pontian concept of “intervolvement” is adopted as a frame, which is tentatively operationalised and illustrated using an example study observing the interactions of a coaching dyad. The case study demonstrates how the coaching practice can be understood from an embodied perspective. A model is proposed, which conceptualises specific ways in which the interaction can be described.