At its core, coaching is designed to help a client move forward to achieve a goal that is personally meaningful. Coaching goals can be professional or personal. Among the many coach training programs and approaches there is general agreement on the process. Simply put, most coaches adhere to a method that involves helping a client assess their situation, establish a goal, develop awareness and insight, select options, define action steps, maintain accountability and evaluate progress.
Positive Psychology Coaching
Positive psychology offers the added benefit of an evidence-based foundation for coaches. Founded by Martin Seligman, the former president of the American Psychological Association approximately 15 years ago, the field focuses on how and why people thrive instead of concentrating on problems and neuroses.
According to Seligman, concepts developed in the field of positive psychology such as positive emotion, positive relationships, engagement and meaning, have already influenced coach training, accreditation, and practice. Importantly, scientific research conducted to test these theories has allowed them to be confirmed by data. What this means to you as a coach or client, is that the effectiveness of suggested exercises and interventions are validated.
Carol Kauffman, Harvard psychologist and founding director of Harvard Coaching Institute says, “at the core of positive psychology coaching is a belief in the power of science to elucidate the best approaches for positively transforming clients’ lives.” Some of areas in which a coach can utilize science are:
Hundreds of studies have reported a relationship between positive emotion and measurable benefits such as improved physical health, higher wages, creativity, big-picture thinking, and work engagement. Coaches who help clients evoke positive emotion by recalling past positive experiences, or imagining a positive outcome can help clients achieve goals, overcome challenges, and perform more effectively.
Strengths Identification and Development
The results of this research in this area show that people who regularly use their strengths are more engaged and happier at work. Similar studies have found the additional benefit of lower employee turnover. A coach, for example can ask the client to imagine how they would use their top five strengths in new or different ways to reach a goal. Or, they might ask a client to use one strength in a new way for a week to build confidence and motivation.
Once again, thanks to research, it has been shown that pursuing personally meaningful goals leads to greater self-esteem, sense of purpose and ability to deal with challenges. To help a client with goal setting, a coach can ask the client to think of the smallest step they might take to move one step closer to their goal or ask them to commit to doing something new, like exercising, for 5 minutes a day.
Research suggests that a hopeful outlook limits negative thinking and enhances performance. Positive psychology coaching builds on the WILL power and WAY power of hope to help clients improve the belief in their abilities and determine the best options for moving ahead.
Positive psychology coaching combines the best of coaching methodology and scientific research to transform the lives of coaching clients.