When Linguistics and Psychology Meet – New Research Project About Questioning Sequences in Coaching

Dr. Eva Graf is currently working on an exciting new research project about questioning sequences in coaching. She is building important groundwork to explore and improve the possibilities in the field of coaching. “In order to standardize coaching or to professionalize coaching, we not only need to know that it works, but we also need to very much know how it works,” says Graf.

Dr. Eva Graf is not only a linguist, she is also a professional business coach. Business coaching is a patient–client interaction aimed at dealing with job-related problems and helping the client in their professional development. In interactions like these, questions are essential to the success of the process. Firstly, it is important which questions are being asked by the coach and what the client’s response is to those questions. Secondly, it is crucial what the coach does with this response. This development is the central point of the research project “Questioning Sequences in Coaching,” which started in March 2021 and will be running for three years. “A central research question is about the process. What really happens between coach and client in conversations,” explains Graf in an interview. With the permission of the coach and the client, coaching sessions are being recorded, transcribed, and analysed. This research project is set up as an interdisciplinary project and investigates the linguistic side of coaching as well as the psychotherapeutic side, which explores questioning practices in coaching and how questioning sequences contribute to the client’s development and progress.

There are three teams that are involved in the project. One team is located in Klagenfurt, one at the Leibnitz Institut für Deutsche Sprache and one at the Züricher Hochschule. In Klagenfurt, several students are assisting in the project, two of which are doctoral students and two are student assistants.
This research will add important insights to the existing knowledge about psychotherapy, coaching, counselling and other professional formats, and it will contribute to linguistic research in professional communication. This ground-breaking work is bound to give fascinating insights, and the University of Klagenfurt is proud to be part of it.