Charles W. Berke, School of Human and Organization Development
This study explores the ways in which, if at all, coaches who work in organizational settings (also referred to as executive/organizational coaches) and are in recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) account for their ability to use themselves as an instrument in their work. This study proposes that for the participants that process is working the program of AA. The AA program is designed to be one of personal growth and enhanced self-awareness, among other things. This study suggests that one outcome of this growth may be an improved ability to demonstrate use of self skills for executive coaches who are also in recovery through AA. This improved ability could be used in a coach’s work in organizational settings and be one of the mechanisms of change that he or she employs to help his/her clients.
The current study employs a narrative analysis research design. Five executive coaches who are in continuous recovery through AA for at least 5 years share their stories and answer a series of questions related to the topic. The data are gathered, reviewed, and presented along with an intact version of the participants’ story, in the interest of understanding how if at all, they account for and describe the changes they have made through their recovery work. The current study then explores the ways in which these changes, have allowed them, if at all, to use themselves as an instrument in coaching others.
The key findings in this study are that the concept of acceptance, deep and reflective listening, and a spiritual approach to life gained through participation in AA have had a significant impact on the participants’ ability to make and internalize change. This study also finds that the participants are able to describe the ways in which their AA experience has translated to an ability to practice use of self in their work as coaches.
Keywords: Use of self, executive coaching/organizational coaching, alcoholics, Alcoholics Anonymous, The 12 Steps, recovery, mechanisms of change, AA stories