Stacey Guenther, Ph.D. is a 2022 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Stacey K. Geunther at her Dissertation Defense.

From L-R: Dr. Donna Ladkin, Committee Chair, Dr. Jon Wergin, Committee Member, Dr. Judi Neal, Committee Member.

Dissertation Committee

  • Donna Ladkin, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Jon Wergin, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Judi Neal, Ph.D., Committee Member


coherence, intersubjective, groups, group development, beingness, transpersonal, consciousness, ways of knowing, sensing, co-sensing, facilitation, mindfulness, contemplative practices, meditation, collective, leadership, change, transformation, awakening, phenomenology

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To be human is to be a member of myriad groups. The universality of groups in our lives poses an important area of study for social scientists investigating human flourishing. Additionally, inquiring into the evolutionary potential of groups may begin to inform new ways of addressing the intractable issues we face as a human species. While most empirical studies of groups focus on group performance, or group doingness, this study explored group beingness and the experience of manifesting deep union and oneness, which is an intersubjective phenomenon that has been called coherence. Intersubjective coherence is often written about from a theoretical and conceptual perspective, as well as from a practice perspective, but it has rarely been investigated empirically. This interpretive phenomenological investigation of coherence inquired into the phenomenon through the facilitation of two group coherence treatments immediately followed by group interviews. The study’s design enabled the exploration of coherence from the intersubjective perspective, allowing for participants to make meaning of their coherence experiences in community. Findings revealed what it was like for participants to experience coherence, how the groups shifted into coherence, and the antecedents and outcomes associated with coherence. Additionally, five meta-themes, Direct Experience of Interbeing, Constructive Disorientation, Co-sensing, Metalogue, and Best Me, Best We, were identified revealing a broader context as well as the ways in which the participants made meaning of the experiences. A key outcome of the study was an empirically-based definition of coherence: coherence is a group-level phenomenon wherein members experience a collective shift into a heightened state of connectedness marked by a quieting, slowing, and calming of the group climate, an activation of an enlivened intersubjective field, and a calling forth for members' best selves resulting in an acceptance and celebration of differences among members. The shift is aided by skillful means, and members are able to process and make sense of the experience through somatic, emotional, spiritual, and creative ways of knowing. Coherence experiences are often accompanied by individual and collective awakenings. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA ( and OhioLINK ETD Center (


Stacey K. Guenther

ORCID Scholar ID #: #0000-0003-2327-4672

Stacey Guenther is a certified leadership coach (PCC), organization development consultant, educator, and certified mindfulness meditation teacher (CMT-P) who is dedicated to a developmental journey for herself as well as for the individuals and groups she serves. She invites her clients into deep work with wisdom and heart while holding the space for them to find answers, inspiration, and direction and to build new skills. She is the principal and founder of a small consultancy, Awakened Impact ( Until 2020, Stacey had a 15-year affiliation with George Mason University, serving as adjunct faculty, administrative faculty and director of educational programs for the Center for Consciousness and Transformation (now known as the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being), and a corporate facilitator for the university’s outdoor challenge course. She was named a 2021 Fetzer Scholar by the Academy of Management's Management, Spirituality, and Religion (MSR) Interest Group, and her dissertation proposal earned one of three awards by MSR as a 2021 promising dissertation proposal. She is a long-time, committed meditator, and she finds the sacred in nature as well as in animals. Stacey lives near Asheville, NC, with her husband and two rescue dogs.