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date: 06 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Whilst scholarly interest in coaching has increased dramatically in the past decade, the further maturation of the field will continue to depend upon the degree to which knowledge is developed along both theoretical and empirical lines. In this chapter both domains are explored. After providing a brief introduction to coaching, the first section summarizes findings from the empirical coaching literature, which suggest that coaching can positively impact human functioning and well-being across several different contexts. Having reviewed evidence that supports the efficacy of coaching, the second section focuses on an important related question: Why does coaching work? To help answer this question, self-determination theory is introduced and presented as a useful theoretical lens for understanding how a coaching process might yield beneficial effects, for grounding coaching practice in firm foundations and also for generating highly valuable research questions.

Keywords: coaching research, self-determination theory, coaching practice, well-being, psychological needs, optimal functioning

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