Coaching in Context


College of Rehabilitation Sciences




Center City


Hybrid (Online and On Campus)


12 Months

Starting Term


Faculty Highlight

Marie-Christine Potvin, PhD, OTR/L

Dr. Potvin’s interest in coaching grew from working with families who have children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Parents had clear goals and needs related to their child with ASD and their daily lives. The service provision models focus on working with the child, usually on remediating impairments, without harnessing the strengths of the family to achieve their goals. Coaching was the apparent solution, but few rehabilitation professionals were trained in this intervention.

With an interprofessional group of colleagues, Dr. Potvin developed a coaching approach called Coaching in Context which is intended to allow professionals to tap into the power of coaching within their own practice. She has used this process with families who have children with ASD, and most recently with college students who have a variety of disabilities. She has conducted research, published and presented projects all related to coaching. Dr. Potvin completed the School of Coaching Mastery Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program and is now a certified competent coach.

Dr. Potvin believes that “coaching is the missing tool in most health, human services and education’s professional toolbox. The students and clinicians that have taken our Coaching in Context workshop and implemented it in their workplace, have invariably seen its value, from school-based practice through acute care tertiary hospitals.” Her extensive experience with coaching and online teaching brought her to want to teach in the Jefferson’s innovative advance practice certificate in coaching.

MJ Mulcahey, PhD, OTR/L

Dr. Mulcahey was originally introduced to coaching while a member of a hospital executive team.  At that time, she trained in an executive coaching for organizational performance based on the work of, Michael Jay. More recently, she has studied coaching as a complimentary approach to support persons living with and affected by chronic conditions. She has completed formal training in coaching and is a certified competent coach. Dr. Mulcahey has extramural and intramural grant funding to examine the feasibility and outcomes of coaching persons with and affected by chronic conditions such as spinal cord injury, stroke, autism, and developmental disabilities.

Dr. Mulcahey’s interest in teaching Coaching in Context is directly related to her belief that persons have the capacity to live meaningful and fulfilling lives in spite of chronic conditions and challenging circumstances. She states “Coaching in Context is a skillful dialogue that uses reflective and powerful questions that support the client to identify and act upon solutions to challenges to everyday living.”  Many professionals report using coaching within their practice, but have never been trained in coaching and are unable to demonstrate the essential features of coaching. Coaching is not mentoring, education or consultation under another different name.

“I am committed to teaching in this APC so that graduates can coach within their practice with a high degree of adherence to essential coaching features thereby having the greatest impact on clients they serve.”

Nicole Gerhardt, OTD, OTR/L

Dr. Gerhardt, an occupational therapist by background, has helped to coordinate coaching studies for both caregivers of children with spinal cord injury and adults with spinal cord injury. She has also served as a coach within a study involving caregivers of adults who have had a first-time stroke. She has helped to develop and refine a fidelity measure for Coaching in Context.

Dr. Gerhardt completed the School of Coaching Mastery Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program and is a certified positive psychology coach. She assists with Coaching in Context workshops and the Coaching in Context advanced practice certificate.

Nicole reports “through my participation in coaching, I have gained much admiration for this approach for versatility with both individuals with various health conditions and their care partners. Learning how to empower someone to identify goals and problem-solve to achieve these goals is a vital skill that can be used by countless professionals to improve the quality of life of their clients. I hope to increase the awareness of Coaching in Context and to help professionals coach with fidelity.”