Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


Date of this Version

Winter 11-23-2010

Document Type



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Human Science, Under the Supervision of Professors John DeFrain and Kathleen Lodl. Lincoln, Nebraska: November, 2010.
Copyright 2010 Deanna Lee Vansickel-Peterson.


The purpose of this psychological phenomenological research was to understand the efficacy of life coaching from the perspective of academic leaders. To date, not one investigation or attempt has been made towards the above stated purpose. This study includes a theoretical overview and a review of the coaching literature from Socrates (469-399 BC) to current day Humanistic theory presented in part by Roger (1902-1987).

This process included data collection from five academic leaders who have been coached for at least two years. Levels of analysis of 365 statements, quote and/or comments produced finding of efficacy in life coaching with academic leaders. These findings were identified and textural descriptions were organized into theme clusters, which resulted in five themes.

The significant themes showed that the effect of the coaching relationship and process enhanced the lives of academicians both personally and professionally by providing a safe place where they could freely express themselves and talk of issues that were otherwise too sensitive to bring to personal and/or professional relationships. This freedom allowed for exploration and awareness of self and values, which empowered them to make decisions, and engage in critical conversations, feeling confident. The deepening of self and value awareness provided needed insights for how boundaries produced a positive protective element needed to guard their time and energy so that they could freely and willingly do what most benefitted them, those whom they love and for doing what they loved. The implementation of boundaries acted as a container for leaders to explore the paradigms they operated from and identified what perspectives served them or hindered them, their growth and relationships. As perspectives were explored and challenged, leaders found themselves adopting new perspectives that created shifts, leading to empowerment. The coaching experience created such value to leaders that they wanted to duplicate this feeling with other relationships in their lives, both personally and professionally.

Advisors: Dr. John DeFrain and Dr. Kathleen Lodl