Integrating Coaching and Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology is a fairly new approach, and the alliance between coaching and positive psychology is a natural one. Positive psychology is the scientific exploration of the conditions and processes that lead to optimal health, well being, and performance. It is an applied science that has a developed body of research, theory and practical tools.

The Connection Between Coaching and Positive Psychology

As a coach, you know that your clients are their own greatest resource. You help them get to the answers that serve them best by assisting them in accessing their highest potential, tapping into their inner guidance, and inspiring them to take action. There’s nothing better than witnessing a client when they get it, when the ‘aha’ moment happens, when the shift occurs. You’ve probably found that your coaching is most effective when your client discovered their answers within.

Both coaching and positive psychology focus on what makes individuals thrive, live happily, and achieve. It was founded by Dr. Martin Seligman, Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania in 1998.

Positive psychologists are committed to helping their clients by emphasizing the strengths-based aspects of their lives, rather than dwelling in the negative. This is not to say that clients are not allowed to bring up negative issues. Instead, both coaches and positive psychologists help their clients deal with the negative. They help their client see the big picture (including both negative and positive experiences), taking advantage of their character strengths and values.

Using Positive Psychology Coaching Gives Meaning to Your Client’s Life

The positive psychology practice has created numerous assessments and questionnaires that scientifically measure overall happiness, character strengths, life satisfaction and meaning in life. In researching positive psychology to use in my life coach practice I found the questionnaires and assessments to be fascinating and revealing. I completed several myself, and you can too at Dr. Seligman’s website: Even as a veteran coach, I know it’s good to revisit where I stand in my own happiness, what my strengths are, and my own sense of meaning for life.

The positive psychology assessments coupled with the skill of coaching makes for a successful marriage between the science of psychology and the art of coaching. The assessments can be very useful for you to use with your clients. By familiarizing yourself with the variety of questionnaires and assessments, you can enhance your coach’s tool chest of processes for guiding clients to their most desirable outcome.

Coaches and positive psychologists, with both putting their emphasis on best possible functioning and well-being, are natural allies. Coaching and positive psychology work beautifully together and there are now several Positive Psychology Coaches practicing currently throughout the country. As positive psychology becomes more accepted, researched and practiced, the professionalism of coaching will only benefit.

Hope you took some great value out of this post today! I’d love to hear your feedback, so make sure you leave a comment with your thoughts or questions. And also, you can click on the Twitter button below to retweet this article… Thank you!

Marti Hess
Life Coach
Writing team, Coaches Training Blog Community

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  1. Rick Lelchuk says


    I’ve not heard of this branch of psychology, but anything that seeks to find the highest and best qualities and uses for the human potential has got to have some great results attached to it. At first I thought that perhaps this is simple the nature of positiveness and a possible offspring to Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking,” but I see that it can be much, much more than that.

    Thanks for bringing it to our attention.


  2. says

    Marti, thanks for the very helpful article. I’ve really enjoyed all of Dr. Seligman’s information since he first pioneered positive psychology. As a licensed professional counselor, I incorporate a lot of positive psychology into my own counseling practice. It’s helpful to see how you tied coaching and positive psychology in the way that they both focus on strengths and growth.

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