Can peer coaching improve resilience and wellness in high stress individuals?


In an 8-month pilot study using 11 graduate students, researchers Rebecca Fried et al. evaluated how peer mentorship combined with motivational interviewing could impact the lives of coachees. Citing a 2018 study by Evans et al., the researchers want to assist the highly stressed population of graduate students, who report experiencing anxiety and stress at six times the rate of the general population. 

As an intervention, the researchers used Motivational Interviewing (MI) via Co-Active Life Coaching (CALC), which the they define as a “theoretically-grounded, collaborative type of coaching wherein the coach and client are seen as equals who function as a team to resolve issues upon which the client chooses to focus.” 

With the structure of MI via CALC, Fried et al. hypothesized that individuals will experience less anxiety and increased resilience. Over the duration of the 8-month study, participants (n=11) were randomly assigned into changing dyadic pairs allowing each participant to engage in sessions as coach and coachee. 

At the midpoint assessment, the researchers highlight themes touched on by the participants within the qualitative data analysis, which include but are not limited to:

  1. Improved mental health
  2. Increased resilience
  3. Improved communication
  4. Social support and connection
  5. Shifting perspectives 

In terms of quantitative assessment, Fried et al. do highlight that the pilot study resulted in a lack of statistical significance quantitatively, which they accredit to the small sample size. The qualitative data findings at the end of study showcase that all participants experienced perceived improvements in their mental health due to the 8-month intervention. 

When it comes to coaching, this pilot study by Fried is highlighting the capability of Motivational Interviewing and Co-Active Life Coaching to create positive personal experiences for coachees. As more data emerges in this field, we will be able to see the measurable implications of these styles of coaching. The reduction of stress and increase in resilience reported are promising signs for coaches to see and know about when and if they engage in MI and CALC with their clients. 

If you would like to read the full article, you can find it here:–-An-8-Month-Pilot-Study.pdf

IOC's Tips of the Week are authored by Austin Matzelle