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Research says...

Updated: Feb 24, 2020

Some relevant theories and structures developed and supported with evidence for Coaching practice include:

Learning Theories

Experiential learning

Experiential learning values the experience of learning, suggesting understandings are “formed and reformed through experience ” and “every experience lives on in further experiences (Kolb, 1984, as cited in Cox, Bachkirova & Clutterback, 2012, p.8; Dewey, 1938, p.27)”.

Positive experience increases the motivation to continue positive experiences.


The adult learning theory of andragogy, explains how adults construct understandings from their life context and works to six guiding principles:

* adults need to know,

* are self-directed,

* have prior knowledge,

* learn socially,

* use motivation and

* learn when necessary (Bass, 2012; Cox, Bachkirova & Clutterback, 2012).

Andragogy is valid and effective in coaching because the guiding principles underpin practice.

​#andragogy #lifelonglearning

Social Learning Theory

Social learning theory outlines the development of self-efficacy, the belief in oneself. Self-efficacy strengthens behavioural change through hope and optimism which motivate behaviour and encourage self-esteem (Passmore, Peterson & Friere, 2013; Sigelman & Rider, 2012).

Coaches encourage mastery experiences which are the most effective manner to develop confidence within.

Coaching Theories

There are four theoretical foundations for coaching methods: cognitive behavioural, solution-focused, humanistic and positive psychology (Cox, Bachkirova & Clutterback, 2014; Joseph, 2015) supporting evidence based coaching practice.

Cognitive Behavioural Coaching

Cognitive behavioural coaching focuses on behaviours, thoughts, feelings and the environment of human experience (Grant, 2003). Coaches aid change in behaviour, thoughts and problem solving through self-awareness and goal accomplishment (Cox, Bachkirova & Clutterback, 2013; Palmer & Gyllensten, 2008; Passmore, Petersen & Friere, 2013). Questioning can identify performance inhibiting thoughts (PITS) and experiments build performance enhancing thoughts (PETS) (Cox, Bachkirova & Clutterback, 2013; Palmer & Gyllensten, 2008; Passmore, Petersen & Friere, 2013)

Cognitive behavioural coaching is a life coaching tool addressing the emotional and behavioural barriers to change.

​#change #newthinking

Solution-focused Coaching

Solution-focused Coaching problem solves; solutions are identified and strategies developed to achieve the solution (Grant et al., 2012; Hicks & McCracken, 2010). Miracle questions, exception questions, coping questions and scaling questions are tools for solution focused therapy (Hicks & McCracken, 2010; Solution focused, 2006).

Coaching is centred upon the solutions; clients examine and evaluate life problem solving to make positive change (Cox, Bachkirova & Clutterback, 2013).

Person-Centred Coaching

Person-centred coaching maximises human growth and potential working with the whole person, improving well-being, growth and development, identifying goals, and building a positive relationship (Cox, Bachkirova & Clutterback, 2013; Passmore, Peterson & Friere, 2013; Stober & Grant, 2006). The relationship is significant using empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard, to move towards self-awareness with support from the coach (Cox, Bachkirova & Clutterback, 2013; Passmore, Peterson & Friere, 2013; Stober & Grant, 2006).

​#youareawesome #respect

Positive Psychology

Positive psychology coaching shares some of its principles with person-centred coaching - building self-efficacy, developing talents, optimal functioning and self-actualisation (Cox, Bachkirova & Clutterback, 2013; Duckworth, Steen & Seligman, 2005); however positive psychology can also operate as a singular entity.

Positive psychology is used in coaching to promote pleasure, engagement and meaning (Seligman, Steen, Park & Peterson, 2005; Peterson, 2006) including:

* positive mental recollections,

* savouring,

* mindfulness,

* identify and using character strengths,

* seeking flow experiences

* building stronger relationships (Black Dog Institute, 2012; Biswas-Deiner & Dean, 2007; Duckworth, Steen & Seligman, 2005; Peterson, 2006; Seligman, Rashid & Parks, 2006).

Positive psychology favours elements of experiential learning; savouring and reflecting on the power of the positive experience.

​#positivepsychology #strengths #values #happiness

Integration of coaching methods is a common occurrence to develop best practice.

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