What is positive psychology coaching?
By Sophia Roy
Loving Home Care
Positive psychologist coaching provides regular and individualized support for those who want to make the most of their lives. A coach helps people develop strategies to achieve goals, solve problems, and deal with issues as they arise. Coaching is a process that starts with an objective assessment about your direction, progress toward accomplishing goals, and current level of functioning. It can define specific areas that need attention, generate options for achieving the desired change, and set goals to establish short-term benchmarks. The coaching relationship may last weeks or months but likely differs from one client to another. Here are six things you should know about what makes positive psychologist coaches different:
1. Coaching is not therapy or counseling
The first thing you have to understand about coaching is that it’s not what most people think it is, especially if you’re going to a licensed therapist, counselor, psychologist, or even senior home care for help! While they may provide some coaching elements, they are trained in helping clients resolve emotional and mental health issues that need their expertise with pharmaceuticals, medication, or psychiatric treatment modalities. Positive psychology coaches don’t work with the “problem” at all – we focus instead on your strengths and what can be done today to move forward another step. Married couples who want to learn how to communicate better? Yes! Do women struggle with guilt about staying home after going back into the workforce? No! Coaches don’t diagnose problems. We focus on solutions.
But to be clear, positive psychology coaching doesn’t replace therapeutic or counseling services either. These are still vital supports for the coach to utilize if the need arises – but positive psychology coaches are trained differently with different teaching backgrounds and responsibilities to help you move forward positively every day of your life.
2. Positive Psychology Coaching is NOT “fake” positivity
Yes, that’s right! If someone tells you they’re happy about something when they aren’t happy about it at all, they’re faking happiness. And everyone knows it deep down inside. They may even feel bad about themselves afterward because now they feel manipulated and controlled.
That’s the biggest mistake most people make about positive psychology coaching – they assume that coaches are going to demand that they be happy 100% of the time, all the time, and whenever a coach asks them how they’re doing. As a positive psychologist, I want you to be as happy as possible – but not at anyone else’s expense! And I don’t assume that you’re happier than you feel because it’s healthier for YOU to share your feelings with me so we can work together on what you can do right now to move forward today.
3. Positive Psychology Coaching is NOT “fake” positivity or “positive thinking” where wishes become facts
Positive psychologists also warn against positive thinking. Are you supposed to pretend that everything is just fine and dandy when it’s not? Now we’re lying again. And as mentioned before, this stuff might feel good for a moment or two – but then there’s guilt afterward.
On the other hand, positive psychology coaching helps you focus on what can be done today to help move forward. What kinds of steps can I take to better my current situation? When we focus on solutions instead of problems, we build resiliency and psychological capital so much more quickly than if we keep “wishing” for something else outside our control!
4. Positive Psychology Coaching is about LIVING life fully here and now
Positive psychology coaches will always encourage you to take part in your own life and actively engage with the world around you because we know that engaged, resilient people are happy people. Positive psychology also offers a two-way street for coaching – by being fully involved in your life today, optimism builds quickly. When my positive psychology clients tell me what they’re doing right now to move forward, their happiness levels go up even more!
But just as important is what my positive psychology coaching isn’t about.
5. Positive Psychology Coaching is NOT passive acceptance or “letting things happen.”
Positive psychologists do not encourage passive acceptance. Who wants to live life at half throttle? Positive psychology coaching probably isn’t for you if you’re going to coast through life without taking risks or making mistakes. If you’re ready to engage in life again fully, then this is the place to do it! Sure, I can help you figure out precisely what steps are best for moving forward today, but positive psychology coaches still encourage risk-taking and believe in letting people make their own choices.
6. Positive Psychology Coaching will ONLY ask questions about what’s working right now
Positive psychology coaches don’t demand that you be happy all the time or even necessarily most of the time. My clients tell me they often feel more relaxed when they’re not always trying so hard to be HAPPY. So I will ONLY ask questions that show me what’s going well in your life today.
So there you have it – 6 Things To Know About Positive Psychologist Coaching. I hope you’re ready for the next step in your journey here.
- The survival/adaptation program, designated to intercept life-threatening hazards. The control program to this is essentially centered in the amygdala and is operated by the cortisol and adrenalin hormones.
- A second aspect of the survival program is the seek/reward, mostly located in the ventral tegmentum. It is operated by dopamine and serotonin transmitters.
- A third brain program is that of attachment and interpersonal relations. It is mainly located in the anterior cingulate gyrus and is operated by oxytocin and prolactin (ibid).
These three programs naturally operate from birth and have to do with survival. The seeking program enables the newborn to look for his mother’s feeding nipple and get his reward. The attachment program is based on the infant’s deep bonding with his mother, which is also essential for survival. As the child grows up, these inborn programs gradually become independent of the child’s survival needs and integrated into his culture.
The attachment behavior develops into social relations and helps the individual to become part of the human community through socialization and acculturation. The search/reward program becomes a passion for exploration and a source of creativity, joy, and the search for human happiness.
Apart from the survival drives that nature has instilled in us, two other formative factors exist which shape the individual’s behaviors: the culture in which a person grows up and the unique way he internalizes and elaborates on his life experiences.
Human cultures have created a synergy with the brain and enhanced the activity of operational mechanisms embedded in it from birth. This synergy has probably led to unprecedented human brain development and the success of humans and their domination over the world.
However, as sometimes happens, a “bug” in the course of natural selection has happened, causing a conflict in the integration of human culture into the control programs installed in the brain. The bug derives from the fact that the survival programs are designed to function in nature, while human cultures are symbolic environments, where the symbolic hazards are not life-threatening. So, when a person meets a symbolic hazard, such as facing his boss, confronting parental criticism, speaking before a group of colleagues, or going through an experience of shaming on social networks, the human organism behaves as if the symbolic hazard is life-threatening. The body generates fight, freeze, and flight responses and stress, and anxiety.
Consequently, the brain forms a new neuronal network (a syndrome) which is reactivated in similar situations in the future.
Because of this discordance, a large part of our learning throughout life, especially during the formative period of early age , is dysfunctional to our adaptation and is misleading. Dysfunctional learning shapes our personality and creates paradigms that block our growth and potential to thrive. It often generates fear, insecurity, and anxiety in the survival program, frustration, rage, and depression in the seeking/reward program, and isolation and separation distress in the attachment program.
Overcoming the growth/blocking paradigms is a necessary (yet not a sufficient) condition to achieve wellbeing. When we overcome the dysfunctional paradigms, the survival program may generate confidence, equanimity, and serenity. The seeking/reward program promotes curiosity, joy, happiness, and creativity, and the attachment system, caring, empathy, compassion, and love.
In Dynamic Positive Coaching Psychology, we use a very practical toolbox through a developmental approach aiming to generate authentic meanings in the client’s life through the implementation of different techniques of psychotherapy at different stages of the coaching process. This toolbox has been practiced for years by my students in a practicum where the students coached people in a Coaching Psychology approach and were supervised by my faculty and by myself.
More information about it could be found on my site www.studycoaching.org and more thoroughly in my new book “The Mindful Brain”.