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Professionalising positive psychology: Developing guidelines for training and regulation



Although positive psychology (PP) was initially conceived as more a shift in perspective (towards the " positive ") than a new field per se, in pragmatic terms, it is arguably beginning to function as a distinct discipline, with people self-identifying as " positive psychologists. " Thus, we contend it is time for the field to start developing a system of professional (e.g., ethical) guidelines to inform the practice of PP. To this end, we outline one such possible system, drawing on guidelines in counselling and psychotherapy. Moreover, we argue for the creation of two tiers of professional identity within PP. Firstly, people with a master's qualification in PP might label themselves " positive psychology practitioners. " Secondly, we raise the possibility of creating a professional doctorate in PP which would enable graduates to assume the title of " positive psychologist. " We hope that this paper will contribute towards a dialogue within the field around these issues, helping PP to develop further over the years ahead.
Lomas, T. & Ivtzan, I. (2016). Professionalising positive psychology: Developing guidelines for training
and regulation. International Journal of Wellbeing, 6(3), 96-112. doi:10.5502/ijw.v6i3.4
Tim Lomas
University of East London
Copyright belongs to the author(s)
Professionalising positive psychology: Developing
guidelines for training and regulation
Tim Lomas · Itai Ivtzan
Abstract: Although positive psychology (PP) was initially conceived as more a shift in perspective
(towards the “positive”) than a new field per se, in pragmatic terms, it is arguably beginning to
function as a distinct discipline, with people self-identifying as “positive psychologists.” Thus, we
contend it is time for the field to start developing a system of professional (e.g., ethical) guidelines
to inform the practice of PP. To this end, we outline one such possible system, drawing on
guidelines in counselling and psychotherapy. Moreover, we argue for the creation of two tiers of
professional identity within PP. Firstly, people with a master’s qualification in PP might label
themselves “positive psychology practitioners.” Secondly, we raise the possibility of creating a
professional doctorate in PP which would enable graduates to assume the title of “positive
psychologist.” We hope that this paper will contribute towards a dialogue within the field around
these issues, helping PP to develop further over the years ahead.
Keywords: positive psychology, ethical practice, reflective practice, regulation; accreditation
1. Introduction
It is now almost 20 years since the emergence of positive psychology (PP). In that time, the field
has gone from strength to strength. For instance, a wealth of literature has been generated, with
over 18,000 papers identified by Rusk and Waters (2013) as pertaining to PP. Most saliently, in
the context of the present paper, there is an extensive offering of PP courses across the globe, at
all educational levels, including at least 12 postgraduate master’s programmes in applied
positive psychology (‘MAPP’ courses). Applied PP is ‘the application of positive psychology
research to the facilitation of optimal human functioning’ (Linley & Joseph, 2004, p. 4). As such,
according to Aristotle’s (350 BCE) classification of human activities poiēsis (productive and/or
creative disciplines) theōria (the pursuit of knowledge) and praxis (practical disciplines) –
applied PP might be regarded as a form of praxis, defined as “practical action informed by
theory” (Foster, 1986, p. 96). Students on such courses learn to apply PP in real-life settings, for
example, through PP interventions (PPIs), i.e., activities or practices designed to improve
wellbeing (Parks & Biswas-Diener, 2014).
These developments are, of course, all hugely welcome, and are testament to the enthusiasm
and excitement that the field has generated, and, indeed, the personal, professional and academic
needs that it has fulfilled. However, the speed and extent of these developments has generated a
significant potential problem: the field is, as yet, essentially unregulated as a whole. This means
that there are no agreed standards or formal guidelines concerning how PP should be used in
real-life settings. This lack of regulation is the issue that this paper seeks to highlight, and to
suggest some possible solutions to. It must be emphasised that these are not the only possible
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solutions, and we are not aiming to be prescriptive or dogmatic in our recommendations. Rather,
the aim is to float some potential responses to these issues, thereby contributing to a dialogue
around ethics and regulation already set in motion by leading figures in PP, such as
Handelsman, Knapp, and Gottlieb (2009) and Vella-Brodrick (2011, 2014) thus assisting the
ongoing development of the field. These earlier works have made valuable suggestions around
the kind of ethical principles that should be at the heart of best practice within PP; for instance,
Vella-Brodrick (2014) highlights the importance of integrity, industriousness, innovation, and
impact. Building on such ideas, the current paper offers a number of suggestions for how such
principles might be instantiated in practical terms.
The paper comprises a number of sections. First, we outline the reasons why we feel PP
constitutes a distinct field that needs regulation, and then discuss why it might be helpful, and,
indeed, necessary, to “professionalise” the field. Next, we introduce the notion of ethics, and
explain why PP would benefit from an ethical framework to guide its practitioners. We then
introduce the ethical framework of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy,
since we feel that this is a set of guidelines that PP could adopt or at least adapt (though we
recognise that there are other similar frameworks that could be drawn on). Following that, we
introduce two practical structures that might be of help in upholding an ethical framework,
namely, supervision and reflective practice. Finally, we discuss some possible suggestions for
professionalising the field. This includes: (a) creating a non-accredited professional identity of a
“positive psychology practitioner” for graduates of MAPP courses (as well as hybrid MAPP
courses, such as the MSc in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology at the
University of East London); and (b) proposing a new accredited doctorate in positive psychology,
leading to a status as a “positive psychologist.”
2. Is PP a field?
Before we discuss the need to professionalise PP, we must answer the claim that PP isn’t a distinct
“field” at all. After all, the nature of PP has always been a grey area. Many original proponents
of PP argued that it is not a new speciality within psychology, but rather a “collective identity,”
unifying researchers interested in “the brighter sides of human nature” (Linley & Joseph, 2004,
p. 4). From this perspective, PP is simply an ethos, a way of “leaning towards” positive topics
that is open to scholars and practitioners in established psychological fields, from clinical
psychologists (e.g., Wood & Tarrier, 2010) to neuroscientists (e.g., Urry et al., 2004). This identity
served to unify disparate scholars already working on topics that are now regarded as falling
within the purview of PP, like positive emotions or psychological development. However, we
contend that PP is indeed becoming a distinct field in psychology for the simple pragmatic reason
that many people including some graduates of MAPP courses are beginning to call
themselves, rightly or wrongly (from a regulatory perspective), “positive psychologists.” Given
that “psychologist” is a protected title in most jurisdictions across the world, requiring doctoral
level training and accreditation, the use of such a title is problematic. As such, the proper use of
“positive psychologist” is one of the issues this paper will address. However, its current usage
does substantiate our point here that PP is a distinct field, since many people are beginning to
claim and use it as a professional identity.
In recognising PP as a distinct field, this does not mean that it cannot also be just an “ethos”
for psychologists in other disciplines; clinical psychologists who embrace PP will still be clinical
psychologists, for instance (Wood & Tarrier, 2010). For such people, regulation is not an issue, as
they will be guided and regulated by codes of practice, and accredited by professional bodies, in
their own fields. However, we must also recognise that, for many people, such as MAPP
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graduates without a background in a professional area, PP is a speciality and a professional
identity in its own right. Of course, the question of exactly where we delineate the “territorial
boundary” for PP how we demarcate it from such kinship fields as clinical psychology and
psychotherapy is a complex question, and will be an issue for debate over the coming years.
Likewise, there is a lively debate around the necessary and sufficient criteria for identifying an
intervention as a PPI (Parks & Biswas-Diener, 2014). In this respect, one possible point of
demarcation could be that whereas fields such as clinical or counselling psychology are
concerned with enhancing wellbeing in clinical settings/populations, PP focuses on the
promotion of wellbeing in non-clinical settings/populations, such as the workplace or in schools.
This would of course not prevent PP being used in clinical settings, as per Wood and Tarrier’s
(2010) notion of “positive clinical psychology.” Nevertheless, as a broad generalisation, it does
carve out a particular useful and important role for PP. For instance, whereas a person in distress
might currently turn to a clinical or counselling psychologist, in future, a manager of a workplace
looking to enhance employees’ wellbeing could call upon a positive psychologist. We do not
have a definitive answer for demarcating PP: this is a topic of ongoing debate, and practitioners
in the field may define this in varied ways. However, even as we can and must continue to debate
such issues, the fact remains that, from a pragmatic perspective, people are currently self-
identifying and practising as positive psychologists. As such, the lack of professional regulations
or guidance for such people is arguably an issue.
3. Professionalising PP
Of course, most people applying PP in real-life settings (e.g., delivering PPIs within the
workplace) may well be doing so in ways that are sensitive, responsible, and ethical. However,
this does not mean that PP is nowhere being practised without issues. Saying that is not to impute
malign motives to practitioners in such cases. Rather, it is simply to suggest that, for a variety of
reasons such as inexperience or a relative lack of ethical protocols “best practice” may not
always be followed. Thus, this paper sets out the case for introducing an element of
professionalism into the practice of PP. In so doing, PP is arguably tracing a comparable journey
to that undertaken by kinship applied disciplines. For example, in previous decades, counselling
and psychotherapy have been (and still are) engaging with the same types of issues that we are
raising here, including questions of who has the “right” to practice, and how high standards can
be upheld (Belloch, 1997). As such, we outline one potential vision for what a more regulated PP
might look like, and advocate for some professionalization of PP, and for the creation of a specific
professional identity for people who use/practice PP.
More specifically, we suggest that two tiers of professionalization could be created: (a)
“positive psychology practitioner” (a non-accredited professional identity), and (b) “positive
psychologist” (an accredited psychological profession). With the former, this simply gives a label
to what is already currently happening, i.e., the application of PP in real-life settings, e.g., by
graduates of MAPP courses. For these people, we recommend that they use the title of PP
“practitioner.” We envisage this being a label someone could use on the basis of having
completed masters level study/training in PP. This could make it similar in standing to a
masters in counselling, for instance, i.e., sufficient to practise counselling, and to be called a
“counsellor,” but not sufficient to use the protected title of “psychologist” (which requires a
professional doctorate in counselling psychology). With the second tier, this refers to the more
ambitious future aim of establishing “positive psychologist” as a distinct psychological
profession (comparable to professional identities such as “counselling psychologist” or
“educational psychologist”). This would require professional doctorate level training, featuring
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elements such as professional skills training, work placements (e.g., in organisations), and
practical mentoring/supervision, as per professional psychology doctorates, such as clinical
psychology. (This would stand in contrast to purely research-based PhDs related to PP, which,
like in any other domain of psychology, do not and in future still would not confer any
accredited ability to practise PP per se.) One such doctorate training course already exists (at
Claremont University). However, given the current enthusiasm for people using the term
“positive psychologist,” we would argue that a more widespread and systematic creation of
doctoral courses is both (a) warranted (i.e., they would be well-subscribed) and (b) necessary
(i.e., if people are already adopting the title of “positive psychologist,” there should be training,
regulation and accreditation to match).
Pertaining to the latter point, a crucial aspect of the proposed notion of a “positive
psychologist” is that it would involve recognition by a relevant professional body, leading to
chartered status as a psychologist. We would anticipate that this recognition would need to be
granted by the relevant professional body in each country, such as the British Psychological
Society in the UK, or the American Psychological Association in the USA. However, we would
also envisage a role for either of the main existing PP bodies or, ideally, both, working in
collaboration namely, the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) and/or the
European Network of Positive Psychology (ENPP), who would be able to guide and advise these
national bodies, and ensure consistency across jurisdictions.
Should these developments come to fruition, in future, any person or organisation concerned
with increasing wellbeing in a non-clinical context could ideally turn to a chartered positive
psychologist (possibly in the first instance), or alternatively to a PP practitioner. That is, in
practical terms, while both tiers of people would be able to “practise” PP, one might speculate
that differences would inevitably emerge regarding professional opportunities and
remuneration prospects. As with any other form of tiered qualification (e.g., an MSc versus a
PhD), those possessing the higher qualification might find their services in greater demand, and
would likely be able to command higher fees, or obtain more prestigious or demanding
appointments, etc. accordingly.
The following sections explore what it could take for a person to be recognised either as a PP
practitioner or a positive psychologist. Essentially, we are asking what kind of skills and qualities
would we want PP professionals an overarching label for both PP practitioners and positive
psychologists to have, and how best can we ensure that they do? So, how can we answer these
questions? One way is to turn to applied psychological disciplines that have already developed
a high level of professional maturity, such as clinical or counselling psychology, and to learn
from these, which is what we shall do here. In particular, we will draw upon systems of ethics
that have been developed in these fields, which not only outline people’s responsibilities as
applied practitioners (e.g., duties of care), but which also articulate personal and professional
standards that such people should aspire to. Before we introduce these ethical frameworks,
though, we need to clarify what ethics are.
4. What are ethics?
To understand what ethics are, it helps to conceptualise two similar constructs: values and
morals. Values are “desirable goals, varying in importance, that serve as guiding principles in
people’s lives” (Sagiv & Schwartz, 2000, p. 178). Values are thus not necessarily about good/bad
or right/wrong, but are “conceptions of the desirable” that drive behaviour and motivate life
choices (Schwartz, 1999, p. 24). In contrast, morals are explicitly about “notions of right and
wrong” (Hazard Jr, 1994, p. 451). However, there is an intimate relationship between values and
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morals, since values held in common in a society often become the basis for a more explicitly
codified moral framework. The word “morals,” which derives from the Latin mores, signifies
“usage in a community,” or, more specifically “customs or usages of social life sanctioned by the
conscience of the community” (Muzzey, 1906, p. 29). Ethics then is the explicit codification of a
system of morals, in which these are communally defined and recognised. The term derives from
the Greek ethikos, meaning “custom or usage,” and refers to norms that are “shared by a group
on the basis of mutual and usually reciprocal recognition” (Hazard Jr, 1994, p. 453).
Moreover, of particular relevance here is the idea of domain-specific systems of ethics. This
includes the regulation of professional disciplines, such as clinical psychology, where ethics
refers to “rules and standards of conduct recognised as binding in a professional body or an
association” (Mathenge, 2013, p. 9). Most established professions have formal ethical codes,
articulating how people in that profession should act. Such codes involve “ethical statements”
that are used as a way of explaining how work in the field is “best undertaken to achieve the
greatest good and minimise any potential wrongs” (Mitchels & Bond, 2010, p. 5). For example,
medicine, law and psychotherapy share in common two ethical precepts: client-practitioner
confidentiality and record keeping. Confidentiality is recognised as a human right of those
seeking the service of such professionals, and must be respected to protect such people, and to
facilitate a professional relationship based on trust and openness (Gallagher & Hodge, 2012).
Record keeping is likewise vital if the practitioner is to provide consistent service, taking into
account all the relevant elements of the treatment (Jenkins, 2007). Record keeping may also be
important for other reasons: for instance, in many professions, practitioners may be required to
give evidence in a court of law (Soisson, Van de Creek, & Knapp, 1987). These ethical protocols
are not only recognised as standards for good practice, but are upheld through various
mechanisms, including being embedded into the training and accreditation of these professions,
and monitored by regulatory bodies.
5. The need for an ethical framework
So, where does PP presently stand in terms of a formal, agree-upon ethical framework?
Unfortunately, it does not currently have one. Of course, that is not to say that practitioners using
PP are necessarily unregulated or operating unethically. As discussed above, many people using
PP will be affiliated to professions that have their own ethical standards, including psychological
professions (e.g., clinical psychologists), and other professions, such as teaching or nursing.
Similarly, on MAPP courses, students are usually required to adhere to ethical guidelines and to
obtain approval from ethical committees when undertaking research. Thus, many practitioners
of PP will already be guided by ethics protocols within their own discipline and/or academic
setting, which means PP is already being practiced ethically in a formally regulated and/or
accredited way in many instances. However, as argued above, there will also be people who
are not in established professions, or currently undertaking a MAPP course, who may be offering
services under the (currently contentious) label of a “positive psychologist,” e.g., delivering PPIs
within an occupational setting. Under such circumstances, while most such people may well
personally be decent and ethical, there is no guarantee that they will be practising ethically in a
formal, systematic way. As such, we feel that it is important that PP collectively instantiates a
system of ethical guidelines that such people can and arguably should follow in order to maintain
best practice. This ethical code could then be used to guide PP practitioners (in a non-binding,
non-mandatory way), and to regulate positive psychologists (in a binding, mandatory way). That
is, we suggest that PP “practitioners” – e.g. MAPP graduates can be encouraged to follow this
ethical code, but cannot necessarily be compelled to adhere to it, since they are not an accredited
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profession per se. However, for future positive psychologists who can be trained and accredited
through the creation of doctorate level training programmes adherence to this code could be
mandatory, and a condition of being accredited.
In some ways, PP is already moving towards a situation where a centralised body provides
guidance and even regulation around ethical issues. The main professional body that currently
oversees PP activity is the IPPA, which offers its members information and support, including
teaching programmes, PP resources, conferences, and various research divisions. It also has an
ethics committee that makes decisions relating to the conduct of the association and its members.
However, as yet, neither the IPPA nor any other PP body has issued an ethical framework to
which its members must commit in order to be recognised by or affiliated to that body. As such,
we contend that PP can learn from other similar associations, and create an ethical code suited to
its aims and purposes. As noted above (and discussed further below), such guidelines could be
created by either the IPPA or the ENPP (or, ideally, both in collaboration). These guidelines could
then be passed to local national bodies (e.g., the British Psychological Society), who could adopt
or adapt these guidelines, according to preference, and thus regulate the field in their particular
national territory. Specifically, we suggest that PP could be guided by the fields of counselling
and psychotherapy, which similarly involve working with groups and individuals to enhance
their wellbeing. Indeed, there is already a close overlap between PP and these fields through the
emergence of initiatives like positive psychotherapy (Seligman et al., 2006) and wellbeing
therapy (Fava & Ruini, 2013). In the next section, then, we explore the ethical systems that have
been developed within counselling and psychotherapy, and then examine how PP might learn
from these more established fields.
6. Learning from counselling and psychotherapy
Compared to PP, counselling and psychotherapy are well-established professional fields. In the
UK, there are two main associations encompassing these: the British Association for Counselling
and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). In past
decades, counselling and psychotherapy have been (and still are) on comparable journeys to that
being embarked upon by PP, asking similarly fundamental questions around the nature of their
discipline, including who has the “right” to practise it, and how high standards in practice can
be upheld. The regulation of counselling and psychotherapy is an ongoing topic of debate within
these fields; indeed, some practitioners disagree with the very idea of regulation (Gabriel, 2009).
Nevertheless, these bodies have established frameworks to protect clients and practitioners.
Given the strong overlap between PP and these fields, as elucidated below, rather than
reinventing the wheel, we feel that PP could simply adopt the ethical frameworks used in these
fields. Their frameworks constitute comprehensive and rigorous sets of guidelines that have been
developed, applied, examined and strengthened in the heat of real-life practice over a number of
years. As such, it is our contention that PP does not need to start from scratch, but can import
wholesale their guidelines (while perhaps also adding to them, if desirable). This is not simply a
matter of expediency, but a question of deep professional kinship between PP and counselling
and psychotherapy, sharing common roots in humanistic psychology (Resnick, Warmoth, &
Serlin, 2001). Moreover, it is also a case of professional respect, with PP learning from and
emulating its “older and wiser” psychological cousins.
So, what kind of ethical frameworks are there in counselling/psychotherapy? The BACP’s
(2010) set of ethical rules which we shall draw upon here is entitled the Ethical Framework
for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy. Of course, national bodies in other
territories have developed their own ethical frameworks, such as the American Psychological
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Association’s (2010) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. While such
frameworks have substantial overlaps with the BACP’s, they may have additional components
that might also be helpful to PP. For instance, the APA’s code has guidance around the need to
be careful in relation to engagement with the media, which is not specified in the BACP
framework. As such, if the IPPA/ENPP were to develop a set of ethical guidelines for PP as
advocated here it may be the case that they draw upon more than one framework. On the other
hand, if, as anticipated here, the actual regulation of PP is undertaken by national bodies, it may
be the case that such bodies will simply seek to apply the ethical codes that have already been
developed in their territory; thus, for instance, in the USA, the APA may well prefer to simply
instantiate their 2010 framework. Nevertheless, for the purposes of this paper i.e., stimulating
a discussion around ethics in PP it will suffice to present one viable example of an ethical code
which may be relevant to the field, which, in this case, will be the BACP framework. It
encompasses three dimensions: values, principles, and personal moral qualities. We can consider
these in turn. Firstly, in terms of values, the framework holds that practitioners should be
committed to:
Respecting human rights and dignity
Protecting the safety of clients
Ensuring the integrity of practitioner-client relationships
Enhancing the quality of professional knowledge and its application
Alleviating personal distress and suffering
Fostering a sense of self that is meaningful to the person(s) concerned
Increasing personal effectiveness
Enhancing the quality of relationships between people
Appreciating the variety of human experience and culture
Striving for the fair and adequate provision of counselling and psychotherapy services
It is hard to imagine anybody who is currently applying PP in practical contexts objecting to
any of these values. Indeed, these values relate closely to a number of constructs and outcomes
that are at the heart of PP. For example, the idea of fostering a meaningful sense of self is central
to theories of wellbeing, such as Ryff’s (1989) model of psychological wellbeing. Likewise,
increasing personal effectiveness is aligned with constructs like self-determination (Ryan & Deci,
2000). Or again, enhancing the quality of relationships between people is central to many PPIs,
such as family-centred positive psychology (Sheridan et al., 2004). Thus, already we can see it
would not be too much of a leap for PP to incorporate ethical principles such as these.
The second dimension of the BACP (2010) framework is “principles.” Here, the values listed
above are the foundation for various action-oriented principles which outline the main ethical
responsibilities of the counselling/psychotherapy practitioner:
Trustworthiness: respect for the trust placed in the practitioner (also referred to as “fidelity”).
Strict client-practitioner confidentiality is an important aspect of this trust. Practitioners must
also honour any agreement with the client.
Autonomy: respect for the client’s right to self-determination. The practitioner must provide
accurate information, obtain the client’s informed consent, and emphasise the voluntary
nature of their participation. This principle is designed to minimise the manipulation of
Beneficence: commitment to promote the client’s wellbeing. This principle prescribes acting in
the client’s best interest, based on a professional assessment. One should work strictly within
one’s limits of competence, and only provide services based on adequate and relevant
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training and experience. One’s practice should also be backed up by scientific research and
systematic reflection.
Non-maleficence: commitment to not harming the client. The practitioner must avoid any
sexual, financial, emotional or other abuse and mistreatment of the client, and also not offer
services in a state of incapacitating illness or other adverse personal circumstances.
Justice: fair and impartial treatment of all clients, and provision of adequate services. This
principle underscores the practitioner’s legal obligations, and their commitment to not
discriminating against any clients (or other individuals/groups).
Self-Respect: fostering the practitioner’s self-knowledge and self-care. Practitioners should
also apply the principles above to themselves, and seek therapy and other paths of personal
development. Supervision, discussed further below, is part of this principle.
As with the values above, it is hard to imagine anyone studying or practising PP objecting to
any of these principles. Some are already at the heart of PP, especially beneficence, which mirrors
Lomas, Hefferon and Ivtzan’s (2014, p. ix) definition of PP as “the science and practice of
improving wellbeing.” Likewise, other principles relate closely to constructs within PP, such as
the principle of autonomy, which is coterminous with the concept of self-determination (Ryan &
Deci, 2000). Other principles resonate with PP values, but in this context are somewhat legalistic,
and so have hitherto not explicitly been formalised within the field. For example, although most
PP practitioners would surely implicitly recognise and uphold the principle of justice, an explicit
commitment to this is currently not required of practitioners. In putting PP on a more secure
professional footing, this is the kind of principle one would want to see actively recognised. The
final quality, self-respect, is also particularly intriguing. While many PP practitioners arguably
already take a keen interest in their own wellbeing and development, this principle makes this
an explicit part of professional practice, as discussed further below in the section on reflective
Finally, the third dimension of the BACP’s (2010) ethical framework is “personal moral
qualities.” This refers to the professional’s personal character that binds together all the other
values and principles. While it may be arguably unrealistic to expect a person to fully embody
all the qualities listed below, nevertheless, counsellors/psychotherapists are encouraged to
recognise the value of these, and be guided by them. One may be struck by the overlap between
these qualities and the strengths outlined in the VIA taxonomy (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). This
reinforces the point that all these ethical guidelines are already familiar territory for PP. The
introduction of an explicit ethical framework in PP would simply formally recognise the value
of PP professionals upholding these desirable qualities and processes. The BACP moral qualities
Empathy: the ability to communicate understanding of another person’s experience from that
person’s perspective
Sincerity: the commitment to stand behind one’s words
Integrity: the commitment to be honest and straightforward in dealing with others
Resilience: the capacity to withstand being involved with the concerns of others without being
personally affected by these issues
Respect: the ability to respect other people and the way they understand themselves
Humility: the ability to accept and acknowledge one’s strengths and weaknesses
Competence: effective deployment of the skills and knowledge required for the task at hand
Fairness: the consistent application of appropriate criteria in taking decisions and actions
Wisdom: sound judgment and informed practice
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Courage: the capacity to overcome fears, risks and uncertainty
In counselling and psychotherapy, these ethical guidelines are not simply articulated, but
structures are in place to help trainees and practitioners cultivate and uphold these, such as
supervision and reflection, as the next two sections outline.
7. Supervision
Principal among the structures in place to help counselling and psychotherapy trainees develop
ethically is a process of supervision, where a practitioner’s work is monitored and supported by
an experienced colleague. Such supervision has a number of goals (Inskipp & Proctor, 1993). The
first is formative: to enrich the practitioner’s education, training and skill, with a view to
enhancing the quality of their work. For instance, one method used in this regard involves role-
playing based on client material. The second goal is normative. The supervisor directs the
practitioner in following ethical guidelines, maintaining adequate standards, and observing
boundaries. The third and final goal is restorative. Not only does supervision maintain and
empower the implementation of values, principles, and personal qualities, it also provides the
practitioner with a support system. Thus, in a more pastoral sense, supervision is one answer to
the important question of “who will care for the carers?” People working in caring professions
are themselves in need of care and support to help them cope with the demands of their work
and to attain a healthy and balanced life more generally. Without this, workers may struggle to
help others effectively, and can even experience burnout (Leiter & Maslach, 2005). Thus, a helpful
and caring supervisor can offer invaluable support.
The BACP ethical framework suggests that all practitioners should participate in regular
supervision. Currently, there is no such model of supervision in the field of PP. However, as with
the values/principles above, the idea of supervision resonates with the ethos of PP. Indeed, not
only could PP benefit from incorporating supervision principles and practices, but the practice
of supervision itself can, in turn, learn from PP, as demonstrated by the emergence of a new
branch of supervision based explicitly on PP, namely Strengths-Based Supervision (Edwards,
2012; Wade & Jones, 2013). This model uses Peterson and Seligman’s (2004) work on strengths to
enhance supervision, reframing the process in a way that capitalises on the supervisee’s
strengths. For instance, Edwards (2012) outlines various ways to harness strengths in
supervision, including: enhancing optimism, empowering supervisees to realise that they are
capable of healing others, helping supervisees develop self-efficacy, supporting them in applying
their strengths, and encouraging them to invite clients to engage in a similar way. This is a classic
PP approach to clinical work, and offers a transformative attitude to supervision. In PP itself,
though, currently, the only type of formal supervision occurs in the context of academic research;
e.g., students taking MSc MAPP courses have an academic supervisor to guide them through
their research dissertation. However, one can see the value of all PP practitioners being able to
access supervision, particularly a deeper supervisory relationship that safeguards and promotes
their wellbeing and personal development.
8. Reflective practice
A second key factor in place to help counselling/psychotherapy practitioners develop as
professionals which PP can also learn from is the notion of reflective practice. This means
reflecting on the quality of one’s work, and also, in a deeper sense, on one’s own wellbeing, and
on one’s personal and professional development. In that latter respect, the importance of
reflective practice is embodied in ethical principles such as self-respect, as outlined above. One
might identify three main “levels” of reflective practice, constituting three sequentially deeper
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forms of reflection: on one’s particular actions, on one’s career and practice of PP generally, and,
finally, on one’s life journey as a whole. We will take these in turn.
Firstly, in an immediate sense, we can reflect on our current actions and thoughts. An
influential model in this respect, especially in the context of professional practice, is Schön’s
(1983) notion of the “reflective practitioner.” Schön identifies two key forms of reflective practice:
reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. The former means trying to be aware in the moment
of how we are affecting a situation or are being affected by it; this involves “on-the-spot
surfacing, criticising, restructuring, and testing of intuitive understandings of experienced
phenomenon” (p. 241). The latter means reflecting on one’s actions in retrospect, after the event.
These two processes reinforce each other, with both serving to develop one’s professional
practice. For example, take the case of a PP practitioner delivering a PPI. Reflection-in-action
means paying attention to the dynamics of the interaction as it is happening, e.g., the practitioner
might reflect on how clearly they are introducing and explaining the PPI. Afterwards, the
practitioner can reflect on how well it went, and also how they might improve next time. This
model of reflective practice has been applied across disciplines, from clinical psychology
(Cushway & Gatherer, 2003) to social work (Gardner, 2001) to teaching (Korthagen & Vasalos,
2005). A useful way to think about reflective practice is that it means combining applied science
with artistry (Schön, 1983). Applied forms of science of which we include PP to an extent
revolve around skills that could, if practised poorly, be used in a somewhat mechanical way.
However, what elevates a practitioner is being able to apply such skills with the creativity, self-
awareness, and care that we associate with people engaged in artistic pursuits.
In terms of facilitating this kind of reflection, training courses for therapists or clinical
psychologists endeavour to teach reflective practice to their trainees (Guiffrida, 2005). As with
ethics, PP can learn from such fields and apply practices that they have developed, many of
which are already at the heart of PP. For example, in counselling/psychotherapy, a key activity
for helping practitioners become more reflective is mindfulness (Shapiro et al., 2007). Indeed,
mindfulness is conceptually similar to reflection and aspects of reflexivity; for example, Finlay
and Gough’s (2003, p. ix) definition of reflexivity as an “immediate, dynamic and continuing self-
awareness” would serve equally well as a definition of mindfulness. Mindfulness is being
incorporated into training in many professions, including counselling (Shapiro et al., 2007),
medicine (Irving et al., 2012), nursing (Mackenzie, Poulin, & Seidman-Carlson, 2006), teaching
(Napoli, 2004) and even law (Riskin, 2004). It has also been incorporated into some PP practices
and interventions (Ivtzan & Lomas, 2016), making it highly relevant to the development of PP.
As such, we would encourage PP courses to incorporate mindfulness into their teaching
structures, as elucidated further below.
Beyond reflecting on particular actions/experiences, professionals can also reflect in a longer-
term way on how their practice is developing generally. This is more an overarching assessment
of how one is changing and hopefully evolving in one’s career over time. Ideally most people
would engage in this type of reflection anyway, without specific inducements to do so, whatever
occupation they were in. However, as with ethics, professions such as counselling and
psychotherapy have also built up structures to encourage this kind of reflection, such as
supervision (Edwards, 2012). Moreover, there are specific models of reflection that practitioners
can engage in to promote long-term development. One such model is Korthagen and Vasalos’s
(2005) five-stage ALACT framework. The first stage is Action (e.g., delivering a PPI). Next is
Looking back, i.e., reflection-on-action. The process continues with Awareness of essential
aspects, where the practitioner analyses the impact of the tools/techniques chosen. In the fourth
stage, Creating alternative methods of action, the practitioner considers other possible strategies
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Lomas & Ivtzan
that could enhance future interventions. Finally, in the fifth stage, Trial, the practitioner applies
the adaptations or changes that were identified in the previous stage, and examines the
consequences. Together, these stages generate an ongoing cycle of reflection that facilitates
continual professional development.
Moreover, the kind of reflection prompted by the ALACT framework may not only enhance
one’s professional performance, but can lead to deeper, more personal reflections on one’s self,
thereby empowering self-growth. In Korthagen and Vasalos’s (2005) model, there are not only
stages, but six progressively deep and personal levels of reflection. The most superficial level is
reflection on the environment: the practitioner reflects on everything they encounter “outside”
themselves, like the client’s actions. At a slightly deeper level, the practitioner considers the
ongoing dynamics of the practitioner-client dyad (the nature of their interaction). Deeper still,
the practitioner can focus on their own competence: the knowledge/experience they possess to
handle the situation. Going further “in,” the practitioner can contemplate the underlying beliefs
which influence his or her actions (with parallels to Seligman’s (1990) notion of “icebergs”).
Underneath this, the practitioner can consider their professional identity, i.e., what kind of
person are they becoming in the context of their work. Finally, at an even deeper existential level,
the practitioner can reflect on their life “mission”. Also known as the “level of spirituality” (Dilts,
1990), this last level is a reflection on the very nature of one’s being, a more fundamental enquiry
into the nature of one’s life and the journey one is on, into what gives meaning and significance
to one’s life.
Thus, at its deepest level, reflection involves “a personal journey of reflective sense-making”
(Waddock, 2011, p. 177); this can be a process that touches the core of who practitioners are as
people, and can engender transformative personal change in the practitioner. In reflecting in a
deeper sense on their life journey, practitioners can contemplate the path they have taken so far,
and consider where they stand now. However, the future lies over the horizon: the great
unknown. As such, practitioners’ potential for transformation may be hidden to themselves;
almost by definition, the person they may become in future is essentially unknown to their
present selves. Thus, change derives from inner potentials of which the person may be only
dimly aware. An intriguing way to consider this process of change is the “Johari Window” (Luft,
1969), a 2-by-2 schematic which illustrates aspects of ourselves that are known or unknown to us
and to others. Aspects that are known to us and to others are our persona, our clear and visible
“character.” Aspects that are known to us but unknown to others are our “masked features,”
dimensions of the self that we conceal from others. Aspects that are known to others but
unknown to ourselves are our “blind spots.” Finally, there are aspects of the self that are
unknown to others and to ourselves, dimensions of the self that have not yet been brought to
light. This last dimension is particularly important, being regarded as the main “source” of
personal growth and development (Luft, 1969). Although this dimension is elusive, practitioners
can help bring it into the light through practices of reflection, such as meditation. These practices
can be vehicles for self-discovery, shining a light of self-awareness on practitioners’ hidden
potentials and encouraging these to grow and flourish. Thus, ultimately, developing a system of
ethical guidelines including reflective practice is not just a matter of striving to safeguard the
wellbeing of clients. It is also a way of encouraging the professional, and, moreover, personal
development of PP professionals themselves.
9. Conclusion: Practical recommendations
So, we have suggested that PP might do well to adopt an ethical framework, and, moreover, that
PP could adopt/adapt the framework developed by the BACP (2010) for the fields of counselling
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Lomas & Ivtzan
and psychotherapy. Of course, many people studying and practising PP may already be
embodying and upholding these kinds of values and principles. However, as we have suggested,
PP might benefit from a more systematic and explicit ethical framework to guide all those
practising PP, in whatever context. We have also suggested that PP courses could further
instantiate or augment structures that help in the inculcation and maintenance of professional
practice, such as supervision and reflection. As such, we shall finish this article with some
practical recommendations of how we might progress from here, and how we can put PP on a
more professional footing. Again, we emphasise that the following recommendations are not so
much for people using PP theories or practices in existing professions, such as clinical psychology
or education, as these people will already have a professional standing. Rather, it is for people
who are not affiliated to a particular profession such as some graduates of MAPP courses but
who wish to practise PP in real-life settings. We shall firstly consider the case of PP practitioners
(as such people essentially exist already), and then positive psychologists (as the creation of this
profession is a future goal).
Firstly, “positive psychology practitioners” is the term we are suggesting for people who
have obtained a masters level qualification in PP. Being only a masters qualification, this means
that such students cannot be labelled as professional psychologists, for which doctorate level
training and accreditation is required. However, the term “practitioners” does serve to create a
professional identity for such graduates, and to give them a badge of recognition. Since this
would not be an accredited professional identity, such people could not necessarily be compelled
to adhere to a formal PP code of ethics, like the BACP code, which is one framework we are
suggesting that PP could adopt. However, this code could simply be in place as a guiding model
promulgated by the IPPA and/or the ENPP which such students could be encouraged to
adhere to.
This encouragement could be formalised by the incorporation of ethical/professional training
into PP masters courses. At a minimum, we recommend that such courses devote one twelfth of
their teaching content to the teaching of ethical/professional practice. For instance, in the UK, a
masters course typically involves 180 credits worth of modules. This would mean that such
courses would ideally include one 15-credit module devoted to ethical/professional practice.
Such courses could also include the other supporting elements of ethical/professional practice
outlined above, such as supervision and reflection. With supervision, on MSc courses, students
already have a supervisor, in any case, to assist them in undertaking research projects. The role
of such supervisors could therefore be expanded to take on the more professional and pastoral
role that supervision has in counselling and psychotherapy. With reflective practice, this could
likewise be encouraged in the context of the supervision relationship. Such courses could also
feature sessions on reflective practices, such as mindfulness not simply in a theoretical
pedagogical way, but in the form of experiential sessions in which students are encouraged to
learn and practise mindfulness themselves.
As to the legal and professional status of such practitioners, some such graduates will already
be affiliated with another profession (e.g., being a qualified teacher or nurse), and so will be
governed by the regulatory frameworks in these professions. However, some graduates will not
be in any such profession (e.g., students who have undertaken a MAPP course immediately after
an undergraduate degree). The professional status of such graduates is currently vague which,
indeed, is one of the very reasons for this paper a situation that is clearly not ideal. Moreover,
even if such people become labelled as PP “practitioners,” as advocated here, their status would
remain somewhat vague. However, provided that these graduates do not use the protected term
of “psychologist,” there is nothing necessarily preventing them from using their PP expertise in
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Lomas & Ivtzan
a consulting capacity (e.g., advising a company on how to improve the wellbeing of its workers).
As such, in pragmatic terms, one possible avenue for clarifying the status of such practitioners
would be for them to be regarded as essentially taking on a consulting role, broadly defined. In
so doing, such practitioners would arguably be on similar territory ethically and professionally
to the millions of other people worldwide who similarly offer their services as “consultants” in
some capacity. (Thus, of course, such practitioners would likewise need to ensure that they abide
by the laws/regulations in the country in which they are working.) Moreover, by standardising
their identity as a PP “practitioner,” this would provide a rudimentary “kite-mark” regarding
their professional skills (e.g., compared to someone without a MAPP qualification who is
nevertheless presenting themselves as a PP “consultant”). This would allow organisations
seeking to avail themselves of the services of such practitioners to at least have some assurance
of quality.
More ambitiously, we are also advocating the creation of professional doctorate level training
in PP, enabling graduates to be officially recognised as “positive psychologists.” In our opinion,
it would be desirable for this doctorate to not only be open to students with a psychology
undergraduate degree. One of the strengths of many MAPP courses is that their admission
criteria do not require this type of degree, which means they are able to admit students from a
range of backgrounds, from business to public health. As well as widening access to MAPP
courses, these more open entry requirements ensure a diverse student cohort, which adds to the
richness and depth of students’ learning experience. We would ideally like to see this inclusivity
extended to PP doctorate training. However, we also recognise that, for students without a
background in psychology, some additional pre-entry training courses may be necessary to
equip them with certain skills that are acquired on undergraduate psychology courses, such as
proficiency in statistics.
Essentially, this doctorate training would mean providing an extended version of the MAPP
programme, in line with the training for professional psychological qualifications, such as
clinical, counselling, or educational psychology. In the UK, this would generally mean a four-
year training programme, although the length of training may vary in other countries. For
instance, in the UK, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (2008) states that
doctoral level qualifications should comprise a minimum of 540 credits (versus 180 for a masters
level qualification), which is a minimum of three times the length of a MAPP course. On such
courses, the new ethical/professional elements introduced into MAPP, as outlined above, could
be expanded and deepened accordingly. For instance, if MAPP courses in future include a 15-
credit module on ethics/professional practice, then the doctoral programme would ideally have
a 45-credit module devoted to this. Likewise, in terms of supervision, the more intense doctoral
supervision provided by a three to four-year course would enable students to develop a
concomitantly deeper supervisory relationship. Moreover, as with counselling and
psychotherapy, one would anticipate graduates maintaining an ongoing supervisory
relationship in some form post-graduation. Similarly, we would argue that doctoral graduates
should ideally be required to engage in some form of continual professional development (CPD)
after graduation. For instance, graduate schools offering the doctoral training programme could
create additional standalone modules (e.g., in advanced coaching practice) which graduates
could be invited to attend. It could further be the case that ongoing accreditation as a positive
psychologist could formally require graduates to attend a certain number of such CPD courses
every few years.
In terms of the specific details of how a PP doctorate training programme might look, this is
obviously something that individual graduate schools would develop according to their own
Professional guidelines for Positive Psychology
Lomas & Ivtzan
professional judgement and local regulatory framework (i.e., the requirements of that particular
country). However, as a starting point, we would like to offer the following suggestions for the
type of training that such courses could feature. The following is a list of knowledge
requirements (KR), core competencies (CC) and practical activities (PA) which we would ideally
like to see featured in a doctorate training programme. Each could have its own module devoted
specifically to it; these might be weighted at, say, 30 or 45 credits, though the weighting would
be more for the KRs (e.g., 90 credits), and, of course, also the final dissertation. In addition, the
KRs and CCs would ideally also be interwoven throughout all aspects of the course. Where
possible, we would also argue that MAPP courses could likewise encompass all these elements,
albeit obviously in a less extensive way (e.g., ethical/professional practice constituting a 15-credit
rather than 45-credit module). The recommended features are:
PP theory (KR)
PP empirical research (KR)
PP in context (e.g., in relation to other areas of psychology) (KR)
Critical perspectives on PP (KR) / Critical thinking (CC)
Ethical/professional practice (CC)
Reflective practice (CC)
Basic counselling and coaching skills (CC)
Quantitative and qualitative methodological and analytic skills (CC)
Professional and legal issues (e.g., establishing one’s own business) (CC)
Supervision (PA)
Placement (a): one-to-one coaching work with an individual (PA)
Placement (b): consulting with an organisation (e.g., company, school) (PA)
Research project (i.e., doctoral thesis) (CC/PA).
Finally, the biggest difference between MAPP courses and this envisaged doctoral level
training is that with the latter, students could be required to adhere to the ethical framework as
a condition of graduation and accreditation. This, of course, would require an official
body/bodies to award this kind of accreditation. Given the different regulatory landscapes in
each country, we would anticipate that regulation would be instantiated and maintained by the
relevant national bodies in the various countries, such as the British Psychological Society, the
Australian Psychological Society, the American Psychological Association, and the Canadian
Psychological Association, and so on. However, to ensure consistency across jurisdictions,
ideally these national bodies could all be guided by either the IPPA or the ENPP (or ideally by
both together). That is, we would hope that the IPPA and the ENPP could collaborate on a set of
guidelines perhaps along the lines of the recommendations set out in this paper which the
national bodies could then use to create their own specific regulatory framework for these
doctorates. These national bodies could then be vested with authority over the way in which PP
is taught and practised, as well as the power to “strike off” practitioners if they were deemed to
have breached its system of ethics.
In this way, PP could join other professional psychological fields in not only having a
rigorous approach to ethical training, but also having a trusted regulatory system that ensures
and upholds best practice, which clients of PP can trust in. In any case, whether our proposals
are taken forward, or the field adopts other sets of recommendations which are, no doubt, also
forthcoming, we see it as a vital development that PP does move towards some formal, agreed-
upon system of ethical training and accreditation. We do not think that the suggestions outlined
in this paper are the only way forward in this matter; there are different options and potential
Professional guidelines for Positive Psychology
Lomas & Ivtzan
solutions when it comes to ethical guidelines and practice. Rather, our intention is to contribute
towards a debate within the field around these important issues, with this paper being another
step in the evolution of PP, helping it continue on its important mission of understanding and
promoting wellbeing across the world.
Tim Lomas
University of East London
Itai Ivtzan
University of East London
Publishing Timeline
Received 4 June 2016
Accepted 1 August 2016
Published 14 October 2016
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... More recently though, there have also been efforts to delineate PP as a specific discipline, endowing it with a distinct professional identity along the lines of specialities such as health or clinical psychology (Lomas & Ivtzan, 2016a). Part of the impetus for this move comes from the community of postgraduate PP courses, whose numbers have greatly expanded in recent years, organically leading to some graduates and scholars self-identifying as "positive psychologists" (even if the label is contentious, not least since "psychologist" is usually a protected title). ...
... For instance, a clinical psychologist interested in theories and practices pertaining to flourishing could be said to be aligned or engaged with PP, as for elucidated by Wood and Tarrier (2010) in their notion of "positive clinical psychology." Conversely, the "discipline" perspective views PP more as a speciality, an identifiable branch of psychologyequivalent to clinical or counselling psychology, saywhereby a scholar can specialise in PP (Lomas & Ivtzan, 2016a). Of course, these two perspectives are not mutually exclusive. ...
... Thus, by no stretch of the imagination does mindfulness "belong" to coaching. Likewise, mindfulness has been harnessed by APP in applied settings that could not be construed as pertaining to coaching per se, such as in educational contexts (Ivtzan & Lomas, 2016a). Again though, there is no way mindfulness could be regarded as a "positive psychology intervention." ...
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Positive psychology has fruitfully interacted with numerous other disciplines, creating new hybrid paradigms. One such instance involves coaching and coaching psychology, which share the field's focus on enhancing wellbeing and performance across life domains. As a result, there is an emergent interest in exploring their interaction with positive psychology, and developing frameworks for their integration. To shed further light on their relationship, this paper explores four perspectives on the intersections between these emerging fields, including (a) the fields as essentially coterminous; (b) positive psychology encompassing coaching psychology; (c) coaching psychology encompassing positive psychology; and (d) the fields as overlapping but not coterminous (the author's preferred perspective). More generally, the paper offers suggestions for how positive psychology can integrate with the various kinship fields in these processes of hybridisation.
... However, in view of the progress described above, Lomas and Ivtzan (2016) assessed that positive psychology has become a distinct applied discipline within psychology, which requires appropriate recognition and accreditation that will signify the professional identity of those who conduct research, teach and facilitate its interventions. ...
... However as the field matures, requests are mounting to professionalise the field through regulation and accreditation. Lomas and Ivtzan (2016) suggested two accreditation routes: one for a "positive psychology practitioner" -which is a master level accredited professional practice, and "positive psychologist" -a doctorate level professional accreditation (already offered by Claremont University) leading to chartered status as a psychologist. Presently efforts to create these accreditation routes are well under way, and it is expected that these will be in place shortly. ...
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This book provides an accessible and balanced introduction to positive psychology scholarship and its applications, incorporating an overview of the development of positive psychology. Positive Psychology: The Basics delineates positive psychology’s journey as a discipline, takes stock of its achievements and provides an updated overview of its core topics, exploring the theory, research and interventions in each. Launched as a rebellious discipline just over two decades ago, positive psychology challenged the emphasis of applied psychology on disease and dysfunction and offered a new, more balanced perspective on human life. From its foundations in the late 20th century to recent “second-wave” theories around the importance of recognizing negative emotions, this compact overview covers the key ideas and principles, from research around emotional wellbeing, optimism and change, to posttraumatic growth and positive relationships. The first jargon-free introduction to the subject, Hart introduces the reader to a range of issues, including self-regulation and flow, character strengths and virtues and positive relationships, concluding with a chapter on how interventions can affect happiness and wellbeing. Positive Psychology: The Basics is an essential resource for students, practitioners, academics and anyone who is interested in understanding the essence of a life well lived.
... More recently, however, there have also been efforts to delineate PP as a specific discipline, endowing it with a distinct professional identity along the lines of specialities such as clinical psychology (Lomas & Ivtzan, 2016a). Part of the impetus for this move comes from the proliferation of postgraduate PP courses, whose numbers have greatly expanded in recent years, organically leading to graduates and scholars self-identifying as "positive psychologists (even if the label is contentious, not least since "psychologist" is a protected title in many jurisdictions). ...
... Conversely, the "discipline" perspective views PP more as a distinct speciality, an identifiable branch of psychology, equivalent in some respects to fields like clinical psychologynot legally or practically, one must add, but simply in the sense that a scholar or practitioner can specialise in PP (Lomas & Ivtzan, 2016a). ...
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Definitively identifying a particular activity as a positive psychology intervention can be difficult. The issue is compounded by lack of clarity around where the boundaries of positive psychology itself lie, and how it intersects with conceptually-related disciplines. A case in point is coaching, which shares positive psychology's interest in enhancing wellbeing and performance across life domains. Coaching's status with respect to positive psychology is a matter of debate: is it a subset of positive psychology (e.g., part of its applied arm), or alternatively a distinct field that overlaps in complex ways. This chapter considers these issues, looking firstly at the nature of positive psychology itself (including who practises it, and what constitutes a positive psychology intervention), and then at the relationship between positive psychology and coaching (as a case study to shed light upon the issues). Lessons will be drawn about how positive psychology interacts with kinship fields, and what it means to identify something as a positive psychology intervention.
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The development of academic fields is often described through the metaphor of ‘waves.’ Following the instantiation of positive psychology (the first wave), scholarship emerged looking critically at the notions of positive and negative, becoming known as its second wave. More recently, we discern an equally significant shift, namely scholarship that in various ways goes beyond the individual and embraces greater complexity. This includes going beyond the individual person as the primary focus of enquiry to look more deeply at the groups and systems in which people are embedded. It also involves becoming more interdisciplinary and multicultural, and embracing a wider range of methodologies. We submit that these interrelated ripples constitute a form of epistemological ‘broadening’ that merit the label of an incoming ‘third wave.’ This paper identifies the key dynamics of this wave, allowing appreciation not only of the field’s leading edge, but also its developmental potential into the future.
The aim of the chapter is to introduce positive psychology intervention, which is useful and constructive in contributing to the development of leaders in terms of multicultural cooperation and team development, as well as conflict management skills within a multicultural organisational leadership context. By applying this intervention, team members are guided to improve the collaboration, conflict management and creative potential within the multicultural setting of the organisation. The chapter is based on a critical review of the relevant literature on positive psychology wave one (PP1.0) and positive psychology wave two (PP2.0), and provides insights into the selected applied intervention. This intervention refers to Jung’s active imagination and transfers it into the multicultural leadership context. The intervention is presented within a case study scenario in which it was used to strengthen individual and organisational cooperation, conflict management and problem solving competences, as well as the mental health and well-being of the diverse team members. The intervention of active imagination is explained and it is shown how team members could work with their images within the team management context to improve mutual comprehensibility, manageability and meaningfulness. Finally, conclusions are drawn and recommendations for future theory and practice are given.
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Psychology has a history of approaching ethics from a rule-based perspective. The APA Ethics Code was developed by focusing on problematic behaviors, and ethics training is often concerned with helping psychologists protect themselves from ethics complaints and lawsuits. Recently, many scholars have been focusing on positive approaches to ethics. Positive ethics shifts the emphasis from following rules and avoiding discipline to encouraging psychologists to aspire to their highest ethical ideals. Such a positive focus might help psychologists consider ethical issues in a broader context that could contribute to better decision making and better integration of professional rules with personal principles and values. Positive ethics might also contribute to a greater degree of openness so that psychologists feel freer to seek the assistance of others. We discuss several major trends in the literature under the themes of self-awareness, professional awareness, and global awareness. Self-awareness includes understanding our own values and motives. Being more reflective about our values may help us develop ethical sensitivity-the ability to recognize ethical dimensions in our work even when no dilemmas or conflicts exist. Self-awareness also includes taking care of ourselves in all areas of our lives, and developing virtues- character traits that allow us to fulfill both personal and professional moral motivations. Our second theme, professional awareness, includes ethical acculturation, which refers to integrating our personal and professional moralities throughout our professional development. We need to understand the moral traditions that underlie our ethical reasoning. We can also prevent many ethical problems and dilemmas by anticipating them, obtaining consultation, and engaging in continuing education. Our third theme-global awareness-includes multicultural sensitivity, political sensitivity, and civic virtue.
Mindfulness in Positive Psychology brings together the latest thinking in these two important disciplines. Positive psychology, the science of wellbeing and strengths, is the fastest growing branch of psychology, offering an optimal home for the research and application of mindfulness. As we contemplate mindfulness in the context of positive psychology, meaningful insights are being revealed in relation to our mental and physical health. The book features chapters from leading figures from mindfulness and positive psychology, offering an exciting combination of topics. Mindfulness is explored in relation to flow, meaning, parenthood, performance, sports, obesity, depression, pregnancy, spirituality, happiness, mortality, and many other ground-breaking topics. This is an invitation to rethink about mindfulness in ways that truly expands our understanding of wellbeing. Mindfulness in Positive Psychology will appeal to a readership of students and practitioners, as well as those interested in mindfulness, positive psychology, or other relevant areas such as education, healthcare, clinical psychology, counselling psychology, occupational psychology, and coaching. The book explores cutting edge theories, research, and practical exercises, which will be relevant to all people interested in this area, and particularly those who wish to enhance their wellbeing via mindfulness
Reflexivity is a popular tool used to analyse personal, intersubjective and social processes which shape research projects. It enables researchers, particularly within the qualitative tradition, to acknowledge their role and the situated nature of their research. In the current climate, which sees the popularity of qualitative methods coupled with increased public and professional scrutiny of research, reflexivity provides a means of bolstering greater transparency and quality in research. This book recognises the considerable value of reflexivity to researchers, and provides a means to navigate this field. The book is foremost a practical guide which examines reflexivity at different stages of the research process. The editors and contributors offer candid approaches to the subject, which supply readers with diverse strategies on how to do reflexivity in practice. Features * Provides an accessible, practical guide to reflexive research processes, methods and outcomes * Encompasses both the health and social science fields * Includes contributions from international researchers The book is aimed at postgraduate and final year students of health and social sciences. Interested clinicians will also find useful insights in the text.
This Special Issue includes a collection of articles presented at, or developed following, a day workshop held in September 2002 entitled 'What is Reflective Practice within Clinical Psychology?' The aims of this workshop, which was organized by the Coventry and Warwick Clinical Psychology Doctoral training course (in conjunction with the West Midlands DCP), were: i. To review the use of reflection within clinical practice; ii. To discuss the development of reflective practice through training and supervision; and iii. To develop an understanding of the use of creative writing to enhance self-reflection and personal growth.
Contemporary social science is going through a revolutionary phase, a phase beginning to be acknowledged and accepted by students of administration and organization. It is clear that the conceptual foundations of much of what passes for social science (including models of administration and organization) have become problematic and have been challenged by both neo-Marxists as well as more orthodox thinkers.