Publication Details

Spence, G. B. & Oades, L. G. (2011). Coaching with self-determination theory in mind: Using theory to advance evidence-based coaching practice. International Journal of Evidence-Based Coaching and Mentoring, 9 (2), 37-55.


The scholarly coaching literature has advanced considerably in the past decade. However, a review of the existing knowledge base suggests that coaching practice and research remains relatively uninformed by relevant psychological theory. In this paper it will be argued that Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985) presents as a useful theoretical framework for coaching as it can help understand coaching practice at both macro and micro levels. The utility of SDT as a theoretical framework for coaching is explored, with particular attention given to the role that coaching would appear to play in the satisfaction of three basic psychological needs: autonomy, competence and relatedness. It is also argued that SDT provides a useful set of propositions that can guide empirical work and ground it in the firm foundations of a theoretically coherent, empirically valid account of human functioning and wellbeing. Suggestions are made for future directions in research informed by SDT.

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