Award winning!

Winner of the Coaching Book of the Year Award from the Henley Centre for Coaching, Henley Business School.  


Playfulness in Coaching: Exploring our untapped potential through playfulness, creativity and imagination

Book published by Routledge July 2023

Teresa Leyman and I met while doing our MSc in Coaching for Behavioural Change at Henley Business School.  Her final year research focus was on high performing thriving teams and mine on exploring the role of playfulness in coaching.

I was curious how focusing solely on logical, analytical thinking around serious topics might constrain us and I wanted to explore how I could access a more playful way of thinking/doing/being as a coach particularly when working with clients who were stuck in the seriousness of their issues. How could I access this myself and where helpful, facilitate my clients doing so too? What might this unlock? 

My exploration of playfulness in coaching, which started with a focus on intellectual playfulness and serious playfulness led to two peer-reviewed published research articles, following which Teresa and I embarked researching and writing on the topic of playfulness in coaching further. Our explorations are now gathered in our book which was released by Routledge in July 2023. 

Together we deliver team workshops and coaching sessions to organisational clients as well as speaking at events (including the ICF Converge 2023 in the US) and run webinars and workshops for coaches to help them access their playfulness, creativity and imagination in their work. 

Playfulness in Coaching - the book

Published by Routledge July 2023

"What do we mean by playfulness? Playfulness and play are no longer seen as only of benefit to children’s learning and development, but are being used increasingly for coaching adults in the context of serious challenges and issues. Benefits include better communication, understanding, self-awareness, relationship-building, creativity, ideation and innovation in a business environment. This book is the first to introduce and expand on the idea of playfulness as an approach in coaching."

"Playfulness in Coaching fully explains the serious role of playfulness and provides the why and the how for new and experienced coaches. Using case studies throughout, the book takes a broad and evidence-led look at the relevant areas of playfulness in coaching: contracting, developing insights, forming direct communications, how to prime the coach and the client for playfulness, identifying and overcoming barriers, assessing risks, and closing a session. It is packed with theory, research, stories from practice, ideas and inspiration for understanding and applying playfulness in life and work."

"This will be an invaluable resource for coaches, particularly those with experience who are moving towards intermediate and mastery level. The book has been written with coaches working with corporate clients in mind, particularly in the context of challenges in a VUCA environment. It will also be relevant to HR and Learning and Development managers who source coaches for organisations and oversee internal coaches, as well as managers-as-coaches, life coaches and mental health professionals."


Reflections on the book:

'In this inspiring and highly accessible book, Stephanie Wheeler and Teresa Leyman take the reader on a journey that interweaves the art and cutting-edge science of playfulness, illustrating how it has the potential to transform your coaching practice. The book is ground-breaking in its integration of concepts and practical applications, which are illustrated through beautiful examples of playfulness in action. This book is an important contribution that will appeal to novice and experienced coaches alike, as well as many mental health professionals'. 

Matthew Pugh, Clinical Psychologist, CBT Therapist, Schema Therapist, and Chairwork practitioner 


'As a playful person, I’m delighted to see this book in print! It is a credible, engaging, and immediately applicable text that reminds us of the value and importance of finding joy in what we do. I particularly appreciate the balance of theory and practice, the numerous anecdotes, and the perspectives of experts. Bravo!'

Christian van Nieuwerburgh, Professor of Coaching and Positive Psychology, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ireland


'Play is an essential part of what it is to be human. This new text provides an insight into how coaches can use multiple play-based approaches to facilitate coaching conversations to deepen self and systemic perspectives and create innovative and fun sessions with their clients'.

Jonathan Passmore, Senior VP; Professor, Henley Business School 


'You won the Golden Ticket! Stephanie Wheeler and Teresa Leyman are the Willy Wonka’s of coaching. They will guide you through a marvellous tour of playfulness in effective coaching. Remember, don’t eat the chocolate!'

Richard Boyatzis, PhD, Distinguished University Professor, Case Western Reserve University; Co-author of the new Helping People Change 


'Coaching is too important to be taken seriously. In this evidence-based, thought-provoking book, Stephanie Wheeler and Teresa Layman offer an infinity of scenarios and perspectives to explore playfulness in coaching. An inspiring text with many great lessons and a roadmap to reconsider some of our coaching practices'.

Andrea Giraldez-Hayes, CPsychol, ESIA & MP (EMCC), PCC (ICF), Director, Wellbeing and Psychological Services Centre; Programme Director, MAPP-CP, School of Psychology, University of East London

We need your consent to load the translations

We use a third-party service to translate the website content that may collect data about your activity. Please review the details and accept the service to view the translations.