So tell me, what is positive psychology coaching?

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were iconic dance partners who made motion pictures together from 1933–1949. 

Although successful entertainers in their own right, it wasn’t until their partnering in ‘Flying Down To Rio’ in 1933, were we to witness the outstanding magic which was their lasting legacy in the world of Hollywood. 

Historically, we have witnessed individuals and concepts that have stood well independently, but through the process of partnership transformed themselves into something extraordinary and iconic. The partnership of positive psychology and coaching is no exception. 

So what is positive psychology?

Positive psychology can be considered to be the scientific study of what makes life most worth living. In broadest terms, it is the study of positive human functioning, including aspects of the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural and global dimensions of an individual, team or organisations life.

Professor Martin Seligman, the founding father of positive psychology, suggests that:

‘The aim of positive psychology is to catalyse a change in psychology from a preoccupation only with repairing the worst things in life to also building the best qualities in life’. 

Dr Robert Biswas-Diener has suggested that in a nutshell:

  • Positive psychology looks at what is right with people, focuses on when they are at their best and attends to individual and group flourishing
  • It is not the focus of the positive at the expense of the negative
  • That positive psychology is first and foremost a science but an applied science, that can lead to the creation of interventions that can improve business, education, government and other aspects of individual and social life
  • Positive psychology produces interventions that can be focused on promoting superior functioning and excelling and not just on standard functionality.

So what then is coaching?

Coaching primarily seeks to support and develop individuals and teams to achieve their goals and realise their potential. It is a process and relationship that focuses on enabling fruitful learning and development to occur and thus performance to improve.

The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development usefully highlights some specific characteristics of coaching which include the following:

  • It consists of one-to-one developmental discussions
  • It provides individuals with feedback on both their strengths and weaknesses
  • It is aimed at specific issues/areas
  • It focuses on improving performance and developing/enhancing individuals skills
  • It is used to address a wide range of issues
  • Coaching activities have both organisational and individual goals
  • It works on the premise that clients are self-aware, or can achieve self-awareness
  • It is time-bound.

Now for the dancing?

Each as separate entities afford a range of potential benefits and have historically provided the means for individuals, teams and organisations to make substantial advancements in development in the workplace and in life.

Positive psychology coaching however, offers clients a combined precision instrument for building happiness, success, and the opportunity to more consistently thrive in work and in life.

It is an evidence-based coaching approach that puts into action what positive psychology researchers have discovered regarding the process of human flourishing.

Can you only imagine the impact of these two approaches coming together and the benefits that it affords coaching clients? A real Fred and Ginger moment.

  • An approach that is explicitly informed and underpinned by rigorous scientific theory
  • An opportunity for the individual, team or organisation to experience an approach that utilises the most contemporary, reliable and trailblazing research available to enhance their development
  • An approach that is truly forward facing
  • An opportunity for individuals, teams and organisation to benefit from new paradigm thinking and the subsequent effects on potential productivity and performance.

This could be some performance! 

Additional Resources

Dr Robert Biswas-Deiner - website dedicated to training professionals in the science of positive psychology and coaching

Professor Martin Seligman - the website of the University of Pennsylvania and a range of online course on positive psychology

The VIA Institute - provides a range of courses and online resources in relation to positive psychology including the free character strengths assessment

Huw Richards Coaching - services, news and thoughts from a leading positive psychology career coach

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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