What is Positive Psychology Coaching?
Positive Psychology is quite a recent addition to the field of psychology and is largely based on the work of former American Psychological Association President, Martin Seligman. It is about what we choose for its own sake, with the overarching goal to increase flourishing. It is about well-being, which is so much more than just happiness. We often do things in life – studying, working long hours, raising children – that in the moment don’t make us happy, but they may give us a sense of accomplishment, or our lives meaning. Including accomplishment and meaning, there are 5 elements to wellbeing, which is what positive psychology is based on:
Positive Emotion – this is the happiness part of well-being and can be described as those things that foster ‘the pleasant life’.
Engagement – when people are truly engaged in activity it’s like time stands still and at the same time flies by. Those times when we’re truly in a state of flow and living ‘the engaged life’
Positive Relationships – if you think about all the most important, enjoyable, and meaningful moments in your life, there’s a good chance other people were involved. As a species, we need other people, we need ‘the related life’
Meaning – this is everything that gives us purpose in life, that makes us feel a sense of belonging and like we’re contributing to something greater than ourselves, ‘the meaningful life’.
Accomplishment – mastering a difficult task or achieving goals boosts our confidence and makes us feel good. Why do people run marathons? Is it because it feels good running 42 kilometres in one go? It’s not about coming first, or getting a prize - it’s the sense of achievement when you cross the finish line that makes it all worthwhile.
Applied Positive Psychology has been defined quite simply by Lomas as " the science and practice of improving wellbeing". Positive Psychology Coaching is quite unique in what it can offer. Whilst it attracts a similar demographic to life coaching, it’s different because the interventions are grounded in empirically-validated research and, in the case of Flourish Factor, are implemented by registered psychologists. This means the interventions used have been found to have a significant positive impact across many situations.
Positive Psychology Coaching also differs from clinical psychology because positive psychologists focus on strengths rather than difficulties. Traditional clinical psychologists work on helping people attain a level of normalcy, whereas positive psychologists aim to take people from normalcy to flourishing.
Seligman, M. E. P. (2012). Flourish. New York: Free Press.