As many of you know, I am a psychologist with an Executive Coaching practice who uses a positive psychology approach. But, many people have still not heard about positive psychology, or perhaps you don’t know that you are already practicing it! Positive psychology was formally recognized in 1998 by the President of the American Psychological Association (APA) Martin Seligman. Although he is often recognized as the father of positive psychology, truly there were several researchers who contributed to its birth including Ed Deiner, Carol Dweck (one might refer to her as the mother of mindset), and Christopher Peterson. This group of researchers became somewhat disenfranchised with traditional clinical psychology which emphasizes pathology and treatment and began to wonder, “instead of studying what went wrong, what if we studied what went right.” Hence, positive psychology was born.
Although I am a trained licensed clinical psychologist, coaching is not therapy; therefore, I do not diagnose and provide treatment. In coaching, I do help you understand your motivations, thoughts and behaviors better. I am also using positive psychology to help you replicate what we know works for a full and abundant life; which encompasses all things including career, family, and even spirituality.
Positive psychologists focus on things like your strengths, being in flow, and gratitude. We focus on post-traumatic growth (the amazing positive changes that often happen after a traumatic experience) rather than post-traumatic disorder. We don’t ignore uncomfortable or “bad” feelings or experiences, but we look at them from a different lens. We don’t assume the bad, but we remain curious about the experiences and look for what positive aspects may exist.
Positive psychologists and Positive psychology coaches turn towards the research of the most successful people in the world to know what works. Instead of trying to remedy a disorder, we expand what is already good and borrow from the good to make other things better. We can look at where you are already successful and help you replicate that in other parts of your life. We use strategies and techniques like powerful questions, mindfulness, appreciative inquiry and strengths spotting to help you create the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that will allow you to thrive in life.
Coaching is really about bringing out the best in people; helping you become a better leader, a better boss, and perhaps a better spouse as a result. It’s not magic, but it is about helping you expand into the thriving version of yourself and using science based practices to do that. Positive psychology is that science.