Coaching, coaching practice

Managing the Loneliness of Being a Coach

By Prof. David Clutterbuck


In our reading and conversations with coaches, we have identified four types of loneliness:

  • The loneliness of abandonment or isolation, which comes from an absence of relationships that are nurturing and supportive
  • The loneliness of chosen seclusion, as practiced by eremites, where the emotion of loneliness is a source of reflection and learning about oneself and the nature of existence
  • The loneliness of wisdom, which comes from a deeper understanding than those around you and the recognition that you can only ever partially bridge that gap (a sense of partial connection)
  • The loneliness of caring too much, which comes from being so focused on the well-being of others that we neglect the pivotal relationships with people closest to us


The first and last of these are unhealthy. Even though coaches meet lots of people, they may experience the loneliness of isolation, because as professionals, they must maintain an emotional distance from their clients.

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