This two-essay research report develops theory around two key questions: 1) given the challenges associated with being part of an emerging profession, how can individual health coaches construct clear and confident occupational identities? And 2) how can individual health coaches legitimate both themselves and their profession? The first essay develops a conceptual model of identity work in the context of such an identity resource “void.” The model suggests relationships between three individual-level stages of identity development, identity challenges, identity work tactics, and a key identity-related outcome (i.e., identity clarity). The second essay develops a theoretical model that speaks to how individuals can gain internal and external legitimacy when they lack demonstrable evidence of their effectiveness and other markers of legitimacy. In each essay there is a discussion of implications for both research and practice.
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