RSB Coaching Research Base

RSB coaching was developed from a thorough review of the research literature. JHMJ’s professional development in RSB Coaching is grounded in coaching research and effective professional development practices. RSB Coaching professional development was the focus of Michaela’s doctoral research. Below is a summary of this pilot study and its findings. 

Relationship Strength-Based™ Coaching

The Impact of Parent Coach Professional Development on the Clinical Practice of Early Interventionists

Context and Purpose

Despite the growing popularity of parent coaching (PC) in Early Intervention (EI) settings, its integration among professionals is inconsistent, impeding its potential impact. This research addressed the challenges associated with the underutilization of PC, including diverse interpretations of coaching and insufficient professional development (PD) opportunities for in-service early interventionists (EIs). Building on the existing literature, the project developed a comprehensive PD model to facilitate adopting the Relationship Strength-based (RSB) approach to PC. A study evaluating the effectiveness, feasibility, and acceptability of the RSB coaching PD was conducted with nine in-service EIs.


The mixed-method case study was conducted in a community-based EI program on Vancouver Island. Over a 10-month period, the nine EI professionals participated in a PD program in RSB coaching.  Quantitative data were collected to examine the extent to which the PD program impacted the PC clinical competency of the participants. Further, the study explored participants’ experiences, including the feasibility of the PD program in a real-world setting and the acceptability of the RSB coaching PD.


Overall, the study yielded promising findings. All nine participants improved their PC clinical competency from baseline to the end of the project. Factors that impacted increased EI coaching knowledge and skills included motivation, time, and commitment to the PC training; practice PC opportunities and video review; meetings with the RSB-PC trainer; previous experience or knowledge about PC; and participant engagement with the PD activities.


This work directly addressed the literature’s recommendations to structure and deliver PC professional development within a framework emphasizing competency in coaching rather than one developmental domain (e.g., communication, physical development) or condition (e.g., autism, cerebral palsy). As such, the present RSB coaching PD program may have utility broadly in interdisciplinary community-based EI settings.

Here are some of the reflections Early Interventionists had about this professional development research project:

Parents just seem like they’re a bit happier with where their child is at, and whether that’s because they feel more confident or they’re gaining skills, but they just seem much more empowered.” 


I think it really has improved my practice, and I’m able to provide a better service to the families I work with.” 


I feel like I have another tool in my toolbox to use parent coaching.”


I think definitely it’s been a really good experience. Giving the reigns over to the parent and putting a lot more of the responsibility and power into their hands. We always try to do that, but with parent coaching, you’re really letting go of that. It’s definitely more empowering for parents. And it puts them a little bit more in the hot seat and gets their brains working in a different way that if they’re just sitting there on the receiving end of a consultation.” 


I believe in the power of coaching. I think it provides more opportunity for the child to learn new skills, and I think it gives parents the tools and confidence they need to support their child.


I would say because of the content knowledge I learned in levels one and two, I definitely know more about parent coaching. I would also say my practice has changed. I think I’ve learned new skills as a clinician, and I feel like I’ve been changing my approaches kind of overall with my families. Not just the ones participating in the project. My impression from families is that it has been really helpful. So that’s also kind of rewarding, you know? Okay, it’s not just our clinicians; it’s actually having a real impact for families.”


At first, I thought I had a concept of parent coaching. But the concepts that Michaela taught us were new to me. There was a lot of familiar material packaged in a slightly different way. And then, as I worked into the implementation of it, I recognized that it was quite a novel way. So, in fact, coaching was new to me and I learned so much.”


I’m really grateful to have been part of the learning process. It’s shifted my practice in positive ways. So yeah, feel very lucky to have done this.” 


Had an amazing talk with one of our families today. The parent actually got a bit emotional when I was describing coaching as he felt he was not heard when he went through the Early Intervention Program with his older child. He felt like no one listened to him about what was happening at home. He was so happy to hear that we were taking coach training. I said that he was the expert of his child and we were there to hopefully provide good support and suggestions around the goals he identified for himself and his child.”


Giving the reigns over to the parent and putting a lot more of the responsibility and power into their hands. We always try to do that, but with parent coaching, you’re really letting go of that. It’s definitely more empowering for parents.”


I think it would be great to at least get the basics of parent coaching for everybody. It would be wonderful for staff to be able to interact this way with families and really understand [them] in a better manner.”

Peer-reviewed citations about RSB Coaching

Michaela’s Doctoral Dissertation:

  • Jelen, M. (2024). The Impact of Parent Coach Professional Development on the Clinical Practice of Early Interventionists. Successful oral defence April 29, 2024.

Peer Reviewed Citations:

  • Jelen, M. & Smith, V. (2024). Relationship and Strength-based Coaching: Professional Development Framework, manuscript submitted to Topics in Early Childhood Special Education.
  • Jelen, M., Smith, V. & Harder, J. Parent Coaching “What does it look like?”: A Case Example of Relationship Strength-based Coaching, manuscript submitted to Young Exceptional Children
  • Jelen, M. & Smith, V. (2024). A Pilot Study of the Relationship Strength-based (RSB) Coach Professional Development: Effectiveness, Acceptability, and Feasibility, manuscript in preparation for peer-reviewed submission