Volume 2, Article 3

Desperately seeking…a theory of the coaching relationship
Alanna Henderson and Stephen Palmer

Citation: Henderson, A., & Palmer, S. (2021). ‘Desperately seeking… a theory of the coaching relationship.‘ International Journal of Coaching Psychology, 2, 3, 1-5.

Processing dates: Received 11 November 2020; Re-submitted 2 December 2020; Accepted 7 December 2020; Published online 14 January 2021

Volume 2, Article 3

PDF Available on ResearchGate.

This short article calls for the opening of a dialogue on developing a dedicated theory of the coaching relationship. In light of the limited development of broader models of coaching process and coaching outcome to explicitly formulate the role of the coaching relationship; the need to evaluate the utility and extent of the working alliance in coaching; the urgent requirement for a coaching relationship model capable of translation across multiple coaching delivery media, and the need to accommodate an interpersonal and contextual perspective, an argument is made that a coaching relationship model is timely. Developments in the allied domains of relationship science and psychotherapy research may further inform a conversation for taking such a theory forward.

Key words: coaching relationship, coaching relationship theory, working alliance, social psychology theories


Dr Alanna Henderson PhD is a Chartered Psychologist and an accredited member of the International Society for Coaching Psychology. Alanna is an Honorary Research
Fellow, Department of Organizational Psychology, School of Economics and Infomatics, Birkbeck University London. www.bbk.ac.uk/departments/orgpsych

Prof Stephen Palmer PhD is Professor of Practice at the Wales Academy for Professional Practice and Applied Research, University of Wales Trinity Saint David. He is Coordinating Director of the ISCP International Centre for Coaching Psychology Research, and Founder Director of the Centre for Coaching, London. He is the Honorary President of the International Stress Management Association and the International Society for Coaching Psychology. He has written or edited over 50 books and has published over 225 articles.