Positive Psychology Coaching Explained

by Stacie Hoffmeister

Positive psychology coaching uses positive psychology science.

Positive psychology science is the scientific study of what causes people to flourish.  The International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) definition states:

“Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive.  The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.”

Positive psychology science belongs to researchers, licensed psychologists, or research-practitioners. The research from positive psychology science is then used by coaches, educators, and business consultants in their professional practice.  Positive psychology coaching brings together professional coaching skill and positive psychology research to help clients flourish.  (See my previous post, Effective Coaching Looks Like This, to learn more about the wonder of flourishing.)

Positive psychology coaching gives clients proven tools for success.

The use of positive psychology research in professional coaching is fantastic news for coaching clients. A coach trained in positive psychology is using science-based tools to help his/her clients flourish. The benefit of using science-based tools is that they are more likely to work because they have been tested with rigor by multiple academics and researchers.

Positive psychology coaching is not blind to negativity.

A friend recently asked me an excellent question about positive psychology coaching. “Does positive psychology coaching mean that you only focus on what’s positive?”  As a typical generation Xer from New York, I do not think I would be physically capable of practicing positive psychology coaching if it meant 100% positivity all the time.  Yuck.

A common misconception about positive psychology coaching is that it is blind to negativity or anything that doesn’t feel good.  Positive psychology science is the study of what makes people happy.  At the same time it also takes into view the importance of negative emotions.  Research has shown that too much positivity can prevent us from thriving.  Negative emotions, conflict, and unmet desires have a role to play in motivating us to achieve what we want.

Effective positive psychology coaching is not nauseatingly optimistic.  Positive psychology coaching clients are exposed to the most cutting edge tools and interventions that are intended to help them flourish at work and in life.

For more resources on positive psychology see:

International Positive Psychology Association

University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center

Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D.

“Positive Psychology Coaching: The Real Reasons Clients Want It” by Julia Stewart, School of Coaching Mastery blog

“Building Resilience” by Martin E.P. Seligman, Harvard Business Review, April 2011

Have questions or are curious about coaching? Schedule a conversation with Stacie here.

Stacie Hoffmeister is an organizational coach and branding professional. She is the founder of organizational coaching firm, Facts and Heresies. Facts and Heresies helps individuals step up into their next level of personal and professional potential. Based in the New York, NY and Westchester County, NY area, Stacie serves individual professionals and organizations in her area and all over the world. 

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