Positive psychology and coaching practice?

Positive psychology is a science-based branch of traditional psychology. Positive psychology is not just about illness and health, but uses research to discover ways to help people lead fulfilling lives in all aspects of life such as work, education, personal development, relationships and the community. In the past psychology has tended to focus on psychological problems such as disease and dysfunction and failed to look at what makes people thrive and enjoy optimum health. In coaching, we are often looking at ways in which our coaching client can leverage and fulfil their potential and there are ways positive psychology will benefit your coaching practice.

Ways positive psychology will benefit your coaching practice

Here are 5 ways positive psychology will benefit your coaching practice:

1.   Strengths – discovering and playing to your strengths

2.   Positive emotions – Improving well-being and happiness

3.   Hope theory – setting goals and maintaining your motivation to achieve it

4.   Resilience – working through adversity

5.   The journey of change – changing for the better


You may be familiar with the phrase, “play to your strengths”, but there are a couple of things that may prevent our clients from being able to do so. First of all, they may not have a language of strengths and definitions for these strengths. Fortunately, in positive psychology there are three main taxonomies of strengths, namely the VIA Character Strengths, Gallup’s Strengthsfinder and CAPP’s Strengths Profiler, which respectively provide 24, 34 and 60 definitions or strengths. Even better, all three have online questionnaires that your coaching client can take.

Secondly, while playing to your strengths may seem logical, how often have you heard of students having to focus their time on the subjects that they are struggling with or employees having to spend time fixing their weaknesses? This isn’t to say we can forget our weaknesses, but by working with your coaching clients to understand their strengths and finding ways to apply them (in the appropriate context and measure), it can help them to have increased life satisfaction, greater well-being and more engagement and productivity in tasks.

Positive emotions

Depression, low levels of well-being and unhappiness can be fairly common when working with coaching clients. The Broaden and Build Theory of positive emotions talks about how there can be an upward spiral. The explanation behind this is that when we experience positive emotions, we become aware of more positive emotions and explore and try other thoughts and activities. Thus, we expand our positive emotions as we begin to experience them. Understanding the Broaden and Build Theory of positive emotions can help a coach to assist a coaching client to increase their well-being, boost their mood or to become happier.

Hope theory

Motivation to keep going to see something through to the end is something that I often come across when coaching clients. Hope theory in positive psychology is tied closely to goal setting and achievement, which we often do with our coaching clients. It focuses on the willpower and waypower to succeed in achieving goals. In coaching, it can often be that the people that we are working with may hit obstacles on their chosen path towards their chosen goal and by having waypower (pathways) to work with your coaching client to find alternative ways to navigate towards achieve their goal.

Hope theory can help your coaching clients to stay motivated and resourceful when working towards accomplishing a specific goal for them.


Stress, anxiety, overwork, pressure and overwhelm are quite common reasons that people seek out coaches. Within positive psychology, there is a growing evidence base of how to build resilience in the face of adversity. These resilience interventions can be added to a coach’s toolkit to support coaching clients to cope in difficult times, bounceback from a setback and buffer themselves against stressors.

Additionally, these resilience interventions can benefit a coaching client by helping them to reframe thinking patterns when experiencing difficulties and suffering as a result.

Journey of change

Quite often what comes up in a first coaching session with clients is that they want to change something in their lives. It may be that they want to change careers, change the relationship they are in, break a bad habit, find direction in their lives etc. By understanding the psychology of change, coaches can explain the psychology of change to their coaching clients and how to take the steps the steps they would need to take. This can benefit the coaching client to make good on that change that they want to make.

Working with you to go from good to great.

You can learn more about positive psychology and the evidence-based tools that you will be able to incorporate into your coaching practice on our university accredited Introduction to Positive Psychology course on 10-11th November in Brockenhurst, The New Forest, plus it will count towards your CPD hours.

Experience (is) the difference!