The professional world of coaching has exploded in the last few years.
Now more than ever, people are seeing the benefits of seeking out the right levels of support to help them fulfill their personal and professional goals.
Coaches are a big part of that, and no matter what your goals or aspirations might be, there’s bound to be a coach to help support you in the right targeted ways.
Within coaching, many of us will be aware that you can seek out someone who specializes in a specific area. Life Coaching, Sports Coaching, Business Coaching, and Relationship Coaching are just a few examples. What you might not be aware of is that different coaches can also follow specific methods or models of coaching.
If you’re in the process of becoming a coach, it can be useful to align yourself with a model that speaks to you as a professional.
One such model of coaching that is proving very popular is Positive Psychology Coaching.
This article contains:
What is Positive Psychology Coaching?
A popular definition of Positive Psychology Coaching includes:
Positive Psychology Coaching (PPC) is a scientifically-rooted approach to helping clients increase wellbeing, enhance and apply strengths, improve performance, and achieve valued goals. At the core of PPC is a belief in the power of science to elucidate the best [methods for development].
Kauffman, Boniwell, and Silberman (2010).
Positive psychology is backed by a vast body of professional research, meaning that a coaching model based on positive psychology concepts, can offer a more structured and reliable approach to supporting individuals to achieve their goals.
Within positive psychology, there is also a multitude of assessments, resources, tools, and feedback models that can help a coach to build a highly tailored, structured coaching journey that is backed up with measurable evidence.
Developing an understanding of negative thoughts and behaviors versus positive thoughts and behaviors, and understanding which is needed to achieve goals and objectives is at the heart of Positive Psychology Coaching. Positive psychology as a model offers coaches in this field the insights and tools to help their clients identify what’s needed – more positivity or more negativity, and the ‘right’ forms of each.
Positive Psychology Coaching also assists clients in exploring their values, strengths, and weaknesses, their resilience, and their resourcefulness. Once more, backed with the tools and resources developed through positive psychology, coaches that utilize this model can quickly and accurately help clients achieve results.
Such a coach will be able to offer more precision around specific goals and their related areas. In turn, this will help clients be more focused on making the changes needed to achieve their desired objectives.
5 Benefits of Positive Psychology Coaching
Positive Psychology Coaching allows individuals the time and commitment to tackle areas of life they feel they need help with, in structured and proactive ways (Moore, Jackson, & Tschannen-Moren, 2016).
Having someone equipped with the right tools and exercises can lead clients to great results.
Below are five benefits that have been associated with Positive Psychology Coaching:
1. Improvement in Desired Performance and Goals
Positive Psychology Coaching has been linked to improvement in achieving desired performance and goals, both for individuals and in groups (Losch et al., 2016).
Coaching offers individuals the opportunity to explore and develop clarity over what they want to achieve, as well as their short and long term goals.
Through utilizing several positive psychology resources, individuals can hone in on what these are and with their coach, build a regular practice of thoughts and behaviors that help move towards achieving them.
2. Increased Openness to Personal Development
On some level, many people are aware of particular sets of behavior or thought processes that hold them back, but taking the time to uncover, explore, and reassess these is difficult. Positive Psychology Coaching offers individuals the tools and methods needed to explore the areas to work on and to forge forward with the positive changes they want to see.
Positive Psychology Coaching as a model aims to help individuals accept all parts of themselves and develop the understanding that ‘negative’ thoughts and behaviors also serve a strong purpose. It helps them to remain open to exploring their pathway for personal development – where no part of them is seen as inherently ‘bad.’
3. Developed Ability to Identify Positive Solutions
In many models of therapy, conversations tend to focus on trauma, conflict, or negative emotions. While all of this is valid and a part of life for many, it can be difficult in the process of these conversations to identify more positive emotions and solutions.
One component of Positive Psychology Coaching taken from positive psychology is Strength Coaching (Kauffman, 2006). This process encourages individuals to identify one of their top strengths and to use it every day – especially in the face of challenges.
Just like an athlete needs to keep building their muscles to improve strength, continually flexing emotional strength helps individuals to develop better frameworks for a positive resolution in the face of daily challenges.
4. A Greater Sense of Ownership Over Self
A core component of Positive Psychology Coaching is the focus on ‘build what’s strong’ rather than ‘fix what’s wrong’ (Seligman, 2006). This can be a very empowering approach for individuals who perhaps get stuck in ruminating circles, focusing only on negative experiences or emotions, and finding it challenging to cultivate more positive ways of approaching challenges.
Through Positive Psychology Coaching, individuals begin to learn self-acceptance for all parts of them, turning inwards for personal strengths to overcome past hurts or current negative experiences. This can help individuals realize they have many innate gifts they can tap into and puts them firmly back in control of how they think, act, and respond.
5. Improved Self-Awareness for Strengths and Weaknesses
With a clearer focus on positive strengths and attributes, positive psychology has sought to formalize how we talk about positive characteristics and strengths and include in a core textbook: Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification (Seligman and Peterson, 2004).
The book contains 24 defined character strengths, such as zest and curiosity, categorized into six core virtues: courage, justice, humanity, temperance, wisdom, and transcendence.
Positive Psychology Coaching utilizes these classifications of character strengths to help individuals build their awareness of their personal strengths and weaknesses that help them to thrive.
What are the Opportunities for Certification?
Like most coaching, there are multiple opportunities for becoming certified as a Positive Psychology Coach. Whether you’ve been practicing as a coach for a while or entirely new to this exciting career path, it’s important to make sure you do your research on the different courses available.
Below are four things to consider when weighing up the different opportunities to make sure you find the right option for you:
1. Decide How You Want to Learn
Some courses will be offered entirely online, some might be available in a more traditional classroom-style learning environment, and others still might be a combination of both.
Knowing how you like to learn is crucial when deciding on a new course. Many online courses understand that peer-to-peer interaction is vital for engagement and will offer multiple ways for happy students to get connected and speak to one another, but not all courses will.
Make sure you look into this if you know having a motivational class group to support you is crucial for your learning journey.
2. Check How the Course is Accredited
Another important consideration is how the course is accredited. There are a lot of online courses out there that, while offering a great learning experience, aren’t accredited by any professional organizations or professional bodies.
If you’re invested in pursuing this as a career path, ensuring all training and development is accredited will give your learning the ‘stamp of approval’ it needs. Accredited courses and certifications can also help clients to feel confident in you and your commitment to supporting them.
As non-accredited courses tend to be slightly cheaper, if you’re undecided about pursuing this as a full-time career, a non-accredited short course can be a great way to learn more about the area and make decisions for further investments if you feel it’s right for you.
3. Check Out Course Reviews
The next step when you’ve found a course that looks right for you is to check out some of the reviews. If you can, speak to a few students who have already studied or are currently studying the course to help you build a robust sense of what to expect (and uncover anything bad you might want to know before enrolling).
This step can help you make a more concrete decision before starting a new course and give you the reassurance that the learning experience aligns with what might be presented through their online marketing.
4. Explore the Content
Within some coaching certifications, there can be a lot of cross-overs and duplicate content, which is fine if you’re new to studying the area. If you’re already a qualified coach, you might want to ensure you’re not doubling up on areas of knowledge you’ve developed or studied elsewhere.
Many course providers will allow you to preview snippets of the course content and let you know the overall course outline – including the subject titles you’ll be studying.
If you see a few topics you’re already well-rehearsed in and don’t want to repeat, you could ask to apply for Recognised Prior Learning through your previous studies. This is a great way to keep focused on the new and relevant content for you rather than losing motivation through studying things you already know.
6 Positive Psychology Coaching Training Programs
There are many different opportunities to train and gain qualifications in Positive Psychology Coaching.
Below I’ve explored six different options that are accredited, and seem to offer the most in-depth and valuable content.
This list is not exhaustive though, and there will be positive psychology courses and training programs on offer across the globe that offer rewarding learning experiences. Use the below as a starting point to begin exploring, and if one of them doesn’t speak for you, make sure you continue your research to find a program that does.
1. Positive Psychology Practitioner & Coach Diploma (Level 5) with Psychology Network
Delivered in partnership with Bucks New University, the Positive Psychology Practitioner & Coach Diploma course is a great learning gateway into the field of Positive Psychology Coaching for those who are new to the field and established coaches.
The teaching material is focused on supporting learners who want to use Positive Psychology in Coaching, Training, and Facilitation – and seek to help learners put positive psychology concepts into positive practice.
This course is also aligned with the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology degree for those wanting to take their education to the next level on completion.
Delivery Method: Online
Length of Study: Between 6 and 12 months, depending on the learner.
Enrolment Dates: Available anytime – Self-paced learning.
2. Positive Psychology Coaching Fundamentals with The Wholebeing Institute
The Positive Psychology Coaching Fundamentals is a unique course that offers learners the option to sign up for all modules involved in certification or to sign up for modules one at a time, as and when they feel they have the capacity.
Module topics include:
- Positive Psychology Coaching Fundamentals,
- Positive Psychology Coaching Skill-Building,
- Building a Thriving Coaching Business and
- Positive Psychology Coaching Mentorship.
The Wholebeing Institute delivers the course, and also involves some topics that have been developed explicitly by them, including Introduction to Wholebeing Happiness.
Delivery Method: Online and with some modules available as week-long intensives onsite at their center in Massachusetts.
Length of Study: Between 12 and 18 months depending on the learner, and which modules they choose to complete.
Enrolment Dates: Available anytime for online study, but check the website for week-long intensive dates if this is the study route you would prefer.
3. Certified Positive Psychology Coach with Mentor Coach LLC
The Certified Positive Psychology Coach course provides a more structured pathway for anyone seeking to become certified as a Positive Psychology Coach. It offers three different routes for certification, depending on your previous experience and qualifications.
At the core of each pathway is their Positive Psychology Coaching Masterclass, comprised of five modules which take 52 hours in total to complete. It also includes an exam on the concepts, and you must provide evidence of at least 40 hours of coaching with clients to attain full professional membership.
Delivery Method: Online
Length of Study: Masterclass takes 52 hours to complete, plus exam and 40 hours of evidenced coaching.
Enrolment: Available anytime, self-paced study.
4. Positive Psychology Practitioner Training with The School of Positive Transformation
This training pathway refers to itself as an ‘applied’ program, meaning it has a strong focus on providing you with practical and actionable resources and learning material.
It focuses on some of the key areas of positive psychology, including:
- Positive relationships
- Positive emotions
- Positive mindfulness
- Positive organizations
- The science of happiness
- Positive education
- Positive coaching
- Meaning and purpose
- The power of strengths
- Everyday heroes
- Positive health, and
The course is made up of 12 modules, each delivered over a month through a mixture of online delivery, including live webinars, and homework tasks and assessments. It is accredited as part of the Continuing Professional Development Institute.
Delivery Method: Online
Length of Study: 12 months
Enrolment dates: Available anytime, self-paced study.
5. Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program with the School of Coaching Mastery
The Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program is split into two parts. Part one is more focused on introductory concepts and techniques and is geared towards new coaches starting in the industry. Part two is more in-depth and geared towards individuals who already have some coaching practice or certification behind them.
The course is fully accredited by the ICF (International Coach Federation) and mixes online study with individual tasks and assessments, as well as coaching practice.
Part one is more of a short course, designed to be completed in blocks, and individuals can work through these at their own pace. Part two is spread out across 12 months.
Delivery Method: Online
Length of Study: Between 12 and 18 months, depending on the learner and their coaching background.
Enrolment: Available anytime, self-paced study.
6. Certificate of Applied Positive Psychology with The Flourishing Center
This course differs slightly from the others in this list as alongside exploring positive psychology concepts it also provides a practical look at utilizing these concepts through coaching specifically for health and wellbeing. The program is made up of six core modules that focus on Positivity, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Achievement, and Vitality (PERMA-V™).
The training is highly structured, with the program available for in-person (classroom) study available across five states in the U.S. and Canada, as well as an online option. The program is also fully accredited by the ICF, and the Flourishing Center is approved for course delivery by the American Psychological Association (APA).
Delivery Method: In-person (programs available in New York, Chicago, Washington, and Toronto) or Online.
Length of Study: Six months for the in-person delivery and nine months for online delivery.
Enrolment: Available anytime for the online study, but check the website for in-person study in desired states as these vary throughout the year.
Read here for much more information on Applied Positive Psychology.
How Long Does it Take to Become Qualified?
Becoming qualified will depend on your commitment and the course you choose to study, as well as the study method.
The majority of the accredited courses available take, on average, 12 months to complete, with various modules and topics covered in that time. Some online courses allow you to work through the content entirely at your own pace, meaning you can finish it quicker or take longer, depending on your personal time commitments and preference for learning.
Non-accredited courses are available spanning a variety of timeframes. From as little as a two or four-week commitment to three months or six months. Some of these courses will be very light and provide a more generalized overview of Positive Psychology Coaching or might focus on one specific component of the coaching module, for example, Positive Psychology Coaching for Happiness.
The Positive Psychology Coaching in Practice Book
‘Positive Psychology Coaching in Practice’ provides an in-depth and comprehensive overview of how positive psychology concepts, tools, and resources can be utilized within the coaching relationship.
It brings together multiple international professionals who share their guidance, experience, and advice, alongside empirical evidence and research for the positive benefits of Positive Psychology Coaching.
Beginning with a brief introduction to positive psychology, the book also examines several theories of wellbeing, including mindfulness, relevant neuroscience, and a review of a strengths-based coaching approach.
Additional chapters include the application of ACT, the role of positive psychology for wellness, resilience coaching, positive leadership theory, and developmental psychology theory for coaching. Each chapter explores the relevant theory alongside current research and how it could be applied through a Positive Psychology Coaching practice.
The book concludes with thoughts on the potential future of Positive Psychology Coaching and possible areas for further research.
Available on Amazon.
A Take-Home Message
I hope after reading this article, you’ll have a greater sense of what it means to become a qualified Positive Psychology Coach. If you’re considering pursuing this as a pathway for yourself, I hope it may have also helped you to make a few decisions about how to do that.
Becoming a Positive Psychology Coach might sound exciting and enjoyable – and it definitely is – but it’s also something that shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. People who seek out the support of a coach are often at a crossroads in their life, and as their coach, you have the real opportunity to help them move forward in positive ways.
When seeking to become a qualified coach, it’s worth exploring what your motivations are and how these will help you to make a positive difference within your local and broader community.
Have you undertaken any coaching certification, for positive psychology or otherwise? How did you find it? What were some of your key learning points? What advice do you have for others seeking out new learning options?
I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.
- Kauffman, C. (2006). ‘Positive Psychology: The Science at the Heart of Coaching’ in Stober DR and Grant AM, eds., Evidence-Based Coaching Handbook: Putting Best Practices to Work for Your Clients. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley.
- Kauffman, C., Boniwell, I., & Silberman, J. (2010). The Positive Psychology Approach to Coaching. In E. Cox, T. Back-Kirova, D. Clutterbuck (eds), Sage Handbook of Coaching. London: Sage Publications.
- Seligman, M. E. (2006). Positive Psychotherapy. American Psychologist. Vol. 61, No. 8.
- Seligman, M. E. & Peterson, C. (2004). Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification. American Psychological Society