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Psychoanalysis at Work in Coaching

Alumni Melissa Fristrom and Julia Moore resolve resistance to change in their coaching practices by applying psychoanalytic concepts to their work.

Alumni Melissa Fristrom and Julia Moore, both experienced executive coaches, integrate psychoanalytic principles into their work in order to help them understand and deal with the hidden dynamics that interfere with people achieving their goals.  Fristrom and Moore  use unconscious dynamics in their coaching, particularly to gain access to unspoken resistances.

Dr. Fristrom and Ms. Moore both credit their BGSP education for contributing to their success in coaching.  As Dr. Fristrom comments, “People come to me because they know that I will help them become more aware of what is getting in their way, and surmount it.”  Her dissertation research at BGSP, she adds, helped “enable me to identify the often unconscious factors limiting clients’ success.”

Julia Moore agrees on the importance of unconscious dynamics in coaching, specifically recognizing that learning to understand aggression has facilitated her work with clients.  “Working with aggression dynamically helps me to help my clients build powerful relationships as leaders and team members,” she comments.  She adds, “Organizational effectiveness is improved when aggression is managed successfully.  Otherwise, the aggression tends to seep out in destructive ways.”

The coaches agree:  Coaches and psychoanalysts both face the challenge of understanding what interferes with people achieving their goals. When coaches apply psychoanalytic concepts to their practice, they can decrease client resistance and open up opportunities for development.


In addition to her Psya.D. from BGSP, Melissa Fristrom draws on her Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Harvard Business School and her front-line business and leadership experience in corporations including General Mills, Hasbro, IBM, Answerthink, Polaroid, and the African Communications Group.  As part of their faculty, she coaches and speaks in Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program, drawing on her experience as CEO and her successful 15 year coaching practice. In addition to coaching executives, she has a history of coaching fellow coaches, and works with individuals and corporations across the globe through her consulting firm, www.coreallies.com.

Julia Moore has spent the better part of twenty-five years building individual, team, and organizational effectiveness.  She worked for ten years at McKinsey, coaching consultants on client issues related to team dynamics, psychological issues, and organization systems. Prior to joining McKinsey, she had several line manager positions in the public and not-for-profit sectors. Julia has also taught courses and run workshops on leadership and organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management, the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the Columbia Business School of Executive Education.  She is currently on the faculty of the Harvard Business School Executive Education program and is a Senior Consultant for Continuity Family Business Consulting.  She earned her Master’s degree in Psychoanalytic Counseling at BGSP.