Harvard-Affiliated McLean Hospital Launches First Institute of Coaching

November 12, 2009

Adriana Bobinchock

Belmont, MA - With an extraordinary $2 million gift from the Harnisch Foundation, McLean Hospital, the largest psychiatric affiliate of Harvard Medical School, recently launched the Institute of Coaching (, the first-of-its-kind for coaching-related research, practice and education. The Institute aims to advance excellence in research and practice within the bourgeoning field of coaching.

Coaching is a professional practice designed to optimize human potential and performance in diverse arenas including leadership, healthcare and public service. According to Institute Director Carol Kauffman, PhD, a psychologist at McLean and a professional coach, "coaching is a remarkable change process that has often been thought of as a self-help method without scientific rigor. The goal of the Institute is to provide a solid foundation of coaching based on good science, good research and good practice. Evidence-based coaching will transform the field by giving coaches and clients established best practices to draw upon."

Ruth Ann Harnisch, a philanthropist and certified professional coach, chose to fund coaching research at McLean after listening to the stories of researchers at the first International Coaching Research Forum that she conceived and funded working with Kauffman in 2008. Harnisch is a pioneer in coaching-related philanthropy and has supported substantial coaching initiatives and research through the Harnisch Foundation. "They talked about the challenges they faced as serious academics attempting to do peer-reviewed, respected coaching research. It became clear to me that a respectable academic home for coaching would be a game-changer for the field," Harnisch said.

The Institute will advance the field of coaching through five centers of excellence: research, education, applied positive psychology, coaching in healthcare and executive and leadership coaching. Along with Kauffman, the Institute is being co-directed by Susan David, PhD, and Margaret Moore, MBA, and is advised by a council of preeminent thinkers and benefactors in the fields of coaching, organizational change and clinical psychology. Research grant processes are guided by an international advisory board. The Institute holds the annual McLean/Harvard Medical School Coaching Conference, which gathers international leaders in coaching research and science-based coaching practices.

The Harnisch Fund for Coaching, established with a $2 million gift, is fueling coaching research by awarding grants for high-quality scientific coaching studies. The Institute's research center will also disseminate empirically supported best practices, including peer-reviewed studies.

"This magnificent gift from the Harnisch Foundation not only allowed McLean to develop the first Institute of Coaching in the United States, it is allowing us to explore the scientific basis by which coaching can support health and well-being-issues paramount to McLean's mission and of global importance," said Scott L. Rauch, MD, president and psychiatrist in chief for McLean. "We are grateful to Ruth Ann for her generosity and for her commitment to advancing the coaching field."

Establishing the Institute at the world-renowned, Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital was a good fit, according to Harnisch. Known for its cutting-edge research and world-class professionals, McLean has been studying and practicing coaching-related disciplines for years. "There is a growing interest in positive psychology, of which coaching is an integral part," said Philip Levendusky, PhD, senior vice president for business development and marketing at McLean. "Increasing evidence shows that coaching can have a positive impact on healthcare delivery in terms of lifestyle changes, medication compliance, and a host of other changes that reap big rewards for patients and the healthcare system. In her gift to establish the Institute of Coaching, Ruth Ann Harnisch has made a significant commitment to the coaching profession and to improving the lives of individuals."

McLean Hospital is the largest psychiatric facility of Harvard Medical School, an affiliate of Massachusetts General Hospital and a member of Partners HealthCare. For more information about McLean Hospital, visit For more information about the Institute of Coaching, visit

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