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Introduced around the late 1990's, the ‘first wave’ of positive psychology was characterised by a focus on positive phenomena, such as emotions, behaviours, thoughts and organisations. However, the ‘second wave,’ or ‘PP 2.0’ (Wong, 2011), acknowledged that flourishing and wellbeing involved a more nuanced approach to the concepts of positive and negative. For example, whether something is experienced as pleasant or unpleasant (positive or negatively valenced), versus whether something either facilitates or hinders wellbeing (positive or negative outcome).


This led to an acceptance that life involves a balance of opposite elements to form a whole. This is further evidenced through positively valenced qualities that can lead to negative outcomes (e.g. ‘unrealistic’ optimism is linked to risky health-related behaviours). Conversely, positive outcomes have been linked to negatively-valenced qualities (e.g. anger motivating someone to act against a discriminatory situation that has been negatively affecting their wellbeing), and even to negative life events (e.g. Post Traumatic Growth).

Recently, a new ‘third wave’ has been proposed (Lomas et al., 2020), encompassing a broadening of scope beyond the individual person as the focus on enquiry and looking at groups, organisations and wider socio-cultural factors and processes that affect people’s wellbeing (including politics and economics). This perspective sees the individual as embedded within broader social systems, where there are likely to be different viewpoints regarding the definition of wellbeing or ‘the good life,’ the desired outcomes and even the processes required to achieve change.


One emerging approach interested in super-individual processes and phenomena is Systems Informed Positive Psychology (SIPP; Kern et al., 2019), which incorporates principles from the systems sciences with PP in order to explicitly address the complexity of the world and generate positive futures that can emerge collectively from within the system.


Additionally, PP is becoming more multi- and interdisciplinary, as reflected in hybrid formulations like Positive Education and is highlighting the importance of context, including environment, climate and culture on flourishing and wellbeing.

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Coaching Psychology can be distinguished from traditional coaching through its application of scientifically validated coaching models that are grounded in psychological theories and approaches. Contrary to traditional psychology, which focuses on disorder and dysfunction, Positive Psychology (PP) is a scientific discipline examining the “positive features that make life worth living,” (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000, p. 5) in order to promote individual flourishing. PP does not seek to remove the negative elements and emotions from life, but instead aims to bring balance between the two concepts and help us understand how negativity can serve a purpose in helping us to flourish. Positive Psychology Coaching combines the best of these complimentary disciplines to provide a more structured and reliable approach to goal achievement.

Over the past two decades, research has developed a broad range of coaching approaches on which to draw, and coaching psychologists need a secure understanding of the psychological theories underpinning them to ensure they can select a suitable method to meet the needs of their client. Positive Psychology Coaches and Coaching Psychologists use their unique knowledge to select, and adapt if needed, an appropriate model, approach or intervention to enhance existing capabilities and to secure improvements in performance, skills, behaviours and wellbeing in both work and personal domains.


I have experience using a wide range of both PP interventions, tools and assessments and empirical coaching approaches; including, but not limited to, humanistic, existential, holistic, solution-focused, goal-oriented, neuro-linguistic, narrative, creative, developmental, transformational, strengths and cognitive behavioural coaching. I am confident that I can help you explore your values, strengths, weaknesses, resilience and resourcefulness to achieve valued goals and objectives. Book a free discovery call and let's chat about how you can move forward.

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