Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics Theses

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Submitted to the Program of Organizational Dynamics in the Graduate Division of the School of Arts and Sciences in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania Advisor: William S. Wilkinsky


Accurate assessment of the boundary between executive coaching and psychotherapy is essential for a successful coaching experience. The similarities between the fields of executive coaching and psychotherapy present a challenge for coaching students who have yet to master the skills required to make the assessment and create a safe and appropriate environment in which a client may reach his or her goals. This thesis describes the similarities and differences of executive coaching and psychotherapy in order to define the working space shared by the two professions. It recommends skills for coaches that include the use of self, knowledge of the coach’s and the client’s level of self-awareness, and a basic understanding of psychology. I analyze a case study as an example of a coach’s application of the tools in order to determine the boundary within an individual coaching engagement. Because it is impossible to fix an absolute boundary based on predetermined rules, I suggest that the ability to assess unique situations is a critical skill of an executive coach.



Date Posted: 22 May 2009