What is Positive Psychology Coaching?

Positive psychology coaching – what is it and how does it work? Let’s define positive psychology first to arrive at a definition of positive psychology coaching. It is basically the study of the strengths and weaknesses that allow individuals and communities to survive and thrive. As you can tell, this type of psychology aligns itself perfectly with the coaching profession. Both fields start with the assumption that people are resourceful, dedicated to improvement, and motivated to grow.

Positive Psychology Coaching
Positive Psychology Coaching

The term, “positive psychology” was first used by Abraham Maslow in 1954 in an effort to get the field of psychology to focus on human potential as much as on human shortcomings. Sounds like you job as a coach, right? Combining positive psychology with coaching techniques makes you a positive psychology coach.

The Power of Positive Psychology Coaching

Clients hire coaches for a variety of different reasons, but the underlying reason they seek out coaches is to increase and improve their overall sense of happiness and health. By using positive psychology, coaches can focus on strengths and how to best use these strengths in a beneficial manner.

Coaches who use positive psychology can use the VIA signature strengths, as detailed in Character Strengths and Virtues: a Handbook and Classification, by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman, to help their clients achieve goals and pursue happiness.

The strengths are:

  • Wisdom and knowledge:
  • Creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, and perspective.
  • Courage:
  • Bravery, persistence, integrity, and vitality.
  • Humanity:
  • Love, kindness, and social intelligence.
  • Justice:
  • Citizenship, fairness, and leadership.
  • Temperance:
  • Forgiveness and mercy, humility and modesty, prudence, and self-regulation.
  • Transcendence:
  • Appreciation of beauty and excellence, Gratitude, hope, humor, and spirituality.

These 24 strengths can be used in your coaching practice as a way to focus on the positive instead of the negative. By working to improve strengths you will also work to eliminate weaknesses…and the client won’t even know you are doing it! This is the core of positive psychology coaching – knowing that your signature strengths will provide you and your client with a clearer picture of who they are and where they should be heading.

You and your clients can go over each of these strengths or you can have them take the VIA (Values in Action) test which will help them determine their five top strengths. You can find this test on various online sites. It is a great test and questionnaire to use with clients and will help make strengths, not weaknesses, be focal points of your work.

Positive psychology coaching is the best way to work with your clients in a positive and nurturing way. Like the old Bing Crosby song goes:

  • You’ve got to accentuate the positive
  • Eliminate the negative,
  • Latch on to the affirmative,
  • Don’t mess with Mister In-between.

Your clients will love you when you use the power of positive psychology coaching. Not only will they love you, they will also see results. You know what happens when clients see results? That’s right, they keep flocking to you, keep telling their friends and peers about you, and you become a successful coach beyond your wildest dreams. Now that’s positive!

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Fred Philips
Business Coach
Writing Team, Coaches Training Blog Community

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  1. says

    I’ve always been intrigued with positive psychology. It resonates with the optimistic side of me. I believe, however, that Dr. Martin Seligman is realizing it must be balanced with a personal growth plan that works on our weaknesses and our ‘dark’ sides as well.

  2. says

    Just watched your video on line which brought me here. i am really interested in Life coaching as a career path and I am truly happy that I found this site. Many thanks for the great freebies

  3. says

    Positive psychology coaching is WAY more than just coaching to strengths – it is about fixed vs. growth mindset, it is about resilience, it is about active-constructive responding, and it is, perhaps above all, about keeping up with the scientific literature coming out of the field of positive psychology. There are also several different validated strengths measures, not just the VIA which you cite. And finally, positive psychology has never been about “eliminate the negative” – if you know about positive psychology coaching, then you know that the 1 in the 3:1 ratio is incredibly important. Positive psychology coaching is more than just a list of 24 strengths and positive thinking – hence the need for good training before someone can give themselves this title for their work.

  4. says

    I recently read that in the field of positive psychology moment, they conducted extensive research in optimists versus pessimists. It was found that optimism can be learned and discovered that optimists
    consistently talk about what they are rather than what they are not, or what they have instead of what they don’t have. Pessimists have one thing in common, they talk about why things are not the way they should be and what they don’t have. Looking at children, we see that they are optimists until adults program them differently…proving that we are not born pessimists.

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