Two School of Mind-Body Medicine Instructors Pursue Research on Coaching and Self-Determination

IMG 20130608 00221 - Two School of Mind-Body Medicine Instructors Pursue Research on Coaching and Self-Determination
Drs. Devorah Curtis and Lisa Kelly


Dr. Devorah Curtis and Dr. Lisa Kelly’s article, Effect of a Quality of Life Coaching Intervention on Psychological Courage and Self-Determination, was featured recently in the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital’s e-newsletter.  McLean Hospital is an affiliate of Harvard Medical School.  This citation is evidence of the growing interest in and acknowledgement of the importance of rigorous research demonstrating the efficacy of life coaching interventions in fostering self-determination. According to self-determination theory, human wellbeing is dependent upon meeting three basic human psychological needs: autonomy, relatedness and competence.  Dr. Curtis (2011) found in her research that by meeting these three psychological needs, psychological courage increases leading to more intrinsically motivated value-based actions.

The purpose of Dr. Curtis’ (2011) study was to examine the effect of a quality of life coaching intervention, grounded in Self-Determination Theory, on psychological courage.  This study utilized an 8-week, multiple case study design.  Eight nonclinical adults participated in six one-hour tele-coaching sessions.  Sources of data included a pre-assessment survey, a pre-post questionnaire, field notes, and post-session interview transcriptions.  The coaching process included six telephone sessions, the use of the profile reports and HeartMath resources.  The qualitative cross-case analysis described how the integrative life coaching methodology supported participants’ expression of psychological courage and facilitated shifts toward more autonomous motivation.

Drs. Curtis and Kelly are working together to write a series of articles that document the role that life coaching plays in the School of Mind-Body Medicine’s pedagogy in fostering self-determination in our students.  We believe this is an important area demanding more research to explore how the process of life coaching can empower adults as they experience transition, revise their personal and/or professional identities, and make authentic life choices sourced in their intrinsic values.  Drs. Curtis and Kelly are in the process of designing a research study to investigate these implications further.

Curtis, D. (2011). A Multiple Case Study to Explore How Psychological Courage and Self-Determination Influence Transformational Change (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (AA3454075)

Curtis, D., & Kelly, L. (2013). Effect of a quality of life coaching intervention on psychological courage and self-determination. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, 11(1), 20-38.

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