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Positive Psychology Coaching in Practice

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This is a preview PDF to book including foreword, preface, Chapter 1 and references. Positive Psychology Coaching in Practice provides a comprehensive overview of positive psychology coaching, bringing together the best of science and practice, highlighting current research, and emphasising the applicability of each element to coaching. With an international range of contributors, this book is a unique resource for those seeking to integrate positive psychology into their evidence-based coaching practice. Beginning with an overview of positive psychology coaching, the book includes an assessment of theories of wellbeing, an examination of mindfulness research, a guide to relevant neuroscience, and a review of a strengths-based approach. It also contains chapters that explore the application of ACT, the role of positive psychology in wellness and resilience coaching, positive leadership theory, and developmental psychological theories as they relate to coaching through significant life transitions. In each chapter, theory and research is thoroughly explored and applied directly to coaching practice and is supported with a list of relevant resources and a case study. The book concludes with the editors' views on the future directions of positive psychology coaching. Positive Psychology Coaching in Practice will be essential reading for professional coaches in practice and in training seeking to enhance their evidence-based practice; coaching psychologists; practitioners of positive psychology; and academics and students of coaching, coaching psychology, and positive psychology. Suzy Green is a clinical and coaching psychologist based in Australia. She is a leader in the fields of coaching psychology and positive psychology and is the founder of Sydney-based The Positivity Institute, dedicated to the research and application of positive psychology.
Positive Psychology Coaching
in Practice
Positive Psychology Coaching in Practice provides a comprehensive overview of
positive psychology coaching, bringing together the best of science and practice,
highlighting current research, and emphasising the applicability of each element
to coaching. With an international range of contributors, this book is a unique
resource for those seeking to integrate positive psychology into their evidence-
based coaching practice.
Beginning with an overview of positive psychology coaching, the book
includes an assessment of theories of wellbeing, an examination of mindfulness
research, a guide to relevant neuroscience, and a review of a strengths-based
approach. It also contains chapters that explore the application of ACT, the role
of positive psychology in wellness and resilience coaching, positive leadership
theory, and developmental psychological theories as they relate to coaching
through significant life transitions. In each chapter, theory and research is
thoroughly explored and applied directly to coaching practice and is supported
with a list of relevant resources and a case study. The book concludes with the
editors’ views on the future directions of positive psychology coaching.
Positive Psychology Coaching in Practice will be essential reading for profes -
sional coaches in practice and in training seeking to enhance their evidence-
based practice; coaching psychologists; practitioners of positive psychology;
and academics and students of coaching, coaching psychology, and positive
psychology.
Suzy Green is a clinical and coaching psychologist based in Australia. She is a
leader in the fields of coaching psychology and positive psychology and is the
founder of Sydney-based The Positivity Institute, dedicated to the research and
application of positive psychology.
Stephen Palmer is a positive and coaching psychologist. He is director of the
Centre for Coaching, London, professor of practice at the Wales Institute for
Work-Based Learning, and adjunct professor of coaching psychology at Aalborg
University. His professional roles include being president of the International
Society for Coaching Psychology.
Coaching Psychology
Series Editor: Stephen Palmer
Coaching psychology is a distinct branch of academic and applied psychology,
which focuses on enhancement of performance, development, and wellbeing
in the broader population. Written by leading experts, the Coaching Psychology
series will highlight innovations in the field, linking theory, research, and
practice. These books will interest professionals from psychology, coaching,
mentoring, business, health, human resources, and management, as well as those
interested in the psychology underpinning their coaching and mentoring practice.
www.routledge.com/Coaching-Psychology/book-series/COACHPSYCH
Titles in the series:
Coaching Psychology in Schools
Enhancing Performance, Development and Wellbeing
Mark Adams
Very Brief Cognitive Behavioural Coaching (VBCBC)
Windy Dryden
Coaching Psychology for Learning
Facilitating Growth in Education
Qing Wang
Positive Psychology Coaching in Practice
Suzy Green and Stephen Palmer
Positive Psychology
Coaching in Practice
Edited by
Suzy Green and
Stephen Palmer
Routledge
Taylor & Francis Group
LONDON AND NEW YORK
ROUTLEDGE
First published 2019
by Routledge
2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN
and by Routledge
711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business
© 2019 Suzy Green and Stephen Palmer
The right of Suzy Green and Stephen Palmer to be identified as authors of
this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78
of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or
reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical,
or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying
and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system,
without permission in writing from the publishers.
Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks
or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification
and explanation without intent to infringe.
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Green, Suzy, editor. | Palmer, Stephen, 1955– editor.
Title: Positive psychology coaching in practice / [edited by] Suzy Green
and Stephen Palmer.
Description: Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY : Routledge, 2019. |
Includes index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2018007381 (print) | LCCN 2018009039 (ebook) |
ISBN 9781315716169 (Master e-book) | ISBN 9781138860988 (hardback) |
ISBN 9781138860995 (pbk.)
Subjects: LCSH: Positive psychology. | Personal coaching.
Classification: LCC BF204.6 (ebook) | LCC BF204.6 .P6586 2019 (print) |
DDC 158/.9—dc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018007381
ISBN: 978-1-138-86098-8 (hbk)
ISBN: 978-1-138-86099-5 (pbk)
ISBN: 978-1-315-71616-9 (ebk)
Typeset in Times New Roman and Gill Sans
by Florence Production Ltd, Stoodleigh, Devon, UK
To my parents, Maurice and Val, for their unwavering love and
support (SG).
To Maggie, for her ongoing support over four decades (SP).
Taylor & Francis
Taylor & Francis Group
http:/taylorandfrancis.com
Contents
Editors and contributors ix
Foreword xv
PROFESSOR SIR CARY COOPER
Preface xvii
Acknowledgements xxi
1 Positive psychology coaching: Science into practice 1
SUZY GREEN AND STEPHEN PALMER
2 Achieving success and happiness: The relevance of theories
of well-being and flourishing in positive psychology coaching
practice 21
JOHN FRANKLIN
3 The stillness in growth: Mindfulness and its role in the
coaching process 41
GORDON B. SPENCE
4 Neuroscience and coaching: A practical application 57
SARAH MCKAY AND TRAVIS KEMP
5 A character strengths-based approach to positive psychology
coaching 71
MICHELLE MCQUAID, RYAN NIEMIEC, AND FATIMA DOMAN
6 Applications of acceptance and commitment training in positive
psychology 85
RACHEL COLLIS AND ERIC WINTERS
7 PERMA-powered coaching: Building foundations for a
flourishing life 103
DANIELA FALECKI, CLIVE LEACH, AND SUZY GREEN
8 Positive psychology coaching for health and wellbeing 121
REBECCA REYNOLDS, STEPHEN PALMER, AND SUZY GREEN
9 Coaching to enhance resilience and wellbeing 141
RACHAEL SKEWS, STEPHEN PALMER, AND SUZY GREEN
10 Positive psychology coaching for positive leadership 159
ILONA BONIWELL AND WENDY-ANN SMITH
11 Coaching through developmental transitions 179
SHEILA PANCHAL, STEPHEN PALMER, AND
SIOBHAIN O’RIORDAN
12 The future of positive psychology coaching 197
SUZY GREEN AND STEPHEN PALMER
Appendix 1: Relevant organisations 203
Appendix 2: Questionnaires and inventories 207
Index 209
viii Contents
Editors and contributors
The editors
Suzy Green
Dr Suzy Green is a Clinical and Coaching Psychologist and Founder of The
Positivity Institute, a positively deviant organisation dedicated to the research and
application of Positive Psychology for life, school, and work. Suzy is a leader in
the complementary fields of Coaching Psychology and Positive Psychology,
having conducted a world-first study on evidence-based coaching as an Applied
Positive Psychology, published in the Journal of Positive Psychology in 2006.
Suzy lectured on Applied Positive Psychology as a Senior Adjunct Lecturer in
the Coaching Psychology Unit, University of Sydney, for ten years and is an
Honorary Vice President of the International Society for Coaching Psychology.
Suzy also currently holds Honorary Academic positions at the Institute for
Positive Psychology & Education (IPPE), Australian Catholic University, the
Melbourne Graduate School of Education (MGSE), University of Melbourne,
and the Black Dog Institute. Suzy is also an Affiliate of the Institute for Well-
Being, Cambridge University.
Stephen Palmer
Professor Stephen Palmer PhD is an award winning counselling and coaching
psychologist. He is Founder Director of the Centre for Coaching, London, UK. He
is Professor of Practice at the Wales Institute of Work-Based Learning, University
of Wales Trinity Saint David. In 2005 he launched the Coaching Psychology Unit
at City University, London. In 2016 he became Adjunct Professor of Coaching
Psychology at the Coaching Psychology Unit, Aalborg University, Denmark.
Also he is Honorary Consultant Director of the Coaching Psychology Unit at the
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is Honorary President and Fellow
of the International Society for Coaching Psychology, and the International Stress
Management Association. He was the first Chair of the British Psychological
Society Special Group in Coaching Psychology. Stephen has written and edited
over 50 books on a range of topics including the Handbook of Coaching
Psychology (with Whybrow). He edits a number of journals in the field including
the European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology.
Chapter authors
Ilona Boniwell
Dr Ilona Boniwell is one of the European leaders in positive psychology, having
founded and led the first Masters Degree programme in Applied Positive
Psychology (MAPP) in Europe. Ilona also teaches Positive Management at
l’Ecole Centrale Paris and HEC, and consults around the world as a Director of
Positran (a boutique consultancy specialising in achieving lasting positive
transformation) and ScholaVie (a positive education lab that offers multiple well-
being, resilience, and teacher-as-coach programmes).
Rachel Collis
Rachel Collis is a career, executive, and leadership coach based in Brisbane,
Australia. She also teaches on the Executive MBA program at Queensland
University of Technology. Rachel has a particular interest in applying contextual
behavioural science to coaching and leadership.
Fatima Doman
Fatima is CEO of Authentic Strengths Advantage®, bestselling author/speaker
and Executive Coach. She is passionate about coaching people to use their
strengths for greater resilience, performance, and fulfilment. For decades, Fatima
has worked successfully with organizations across five continents. Her book,
Authentic Strengths, was featured by the Huffington Post, Psychology Today and
on TV/Radio. Fatima holds the Advanced Columbia University Coaching
Certification, Co-Founded FranklinCovey’s Global Executive Coaching Practice,
and the FranklinCovey/Columbia University Executive Coaching Certification.
Visit: AuthenticStrengths.com
Daniela Falecki
Daniela Falecki, founder Teacher Wellbeing, specialising in Positive Psychology
to build teacher capacity and resilience. With more than 20 years’ experience
across all sectors of education, Daniela holds a Masters in Education (Leadership),
a Bachelor of Education (HPE), a Certificate in Rudolf Steiner Education, and is
a certified Life Coach and NLP Practitioner. Daniela is a Senior Associate for the
Positivity Institute, International Coach Federation and International Positive
Psychology Association member, and lectures at Western Sydney University.
John Franklin Ph.D. M. Clin. Psych. FAPS
John Franklin is a Consultant Clinical and Coaching Psychologist with 30+ years
of professional experience. He established the teaching of Coaching and Positive
Psychology at Macquarie University in Sydney and is the author of two books
and over 60 papers. He has recently developed Thrive and Survive Theory and
the Success and Happiness 101 self-development program. He makes frequent
x Editors and contributors
media appearances and has been a consultant to more than 60 organisations. He
is actively involved in coaching, training, research and writing.
Travis Kemp
Dr Travis Kemp is recognised by both industry and professional peers inter -
nationally as being among Australia’s leading practitioners and thought leaders
in the fields of leadership, coaching, peak performance, and organisational
psy chology. His personal practice centres on executive leadership development
and performance, developmental coaching, and organisational sustainability and
innovation. Travis is a registered Psychologist with endorsement in Organisational,
Exercise & Sport and Counselling Psychology, a registered teacher, an internation -
ally accredited Coaching Psychologist, and a Certified Professional Manager. He
currently holds academic appointments as Adjunct Professor at UniSA Business
School, Australian Centre for Business Growth at the University of South
Australia. For 10 years he was Adjunct Senior Lecturer in the Coaching Psychology
Unit at the University of Sydney.
Clive Leach
Clive is an organisational coach applying positive psychology to enhance indi -
vidual, team, and organisational performance. His work has focused on evidence-
based approaches for wellbeing, strengths development, and mental toughness
within the corporate, government, and education sectors in Australia, China, SE
Asia, Europe, the USA, and the UK. Clive has a Master of Organisational
Coaching from the University of Sydney and lectures at the University of East
London on the MSc Applied Positive Psychology & Coaching Psychology.
Sarah McKay
Dr Sarah McKay is an increasingly influential brain health commentator, PhD
neuroscientist and author who specialises in translating brain science research
into simple, actionable strategies for performance and wellbeing. Dr McKay
received her MSc and DPhil in Neuroscience from Oxford University. In 2014,
she founded The Neuroscience Academy, which offers live and online training
that focuses on applying neuroscience, positive psychology, and mind-body
medicine to life and work.
Michelle McQuaid
Michelle McQuaid is a best-selling author, workplace wellbeing teacher, and
playful change activator. With more than a decade of senior leadership experience
in large organisations around the world, she’s passionate about translating
cutting-edge research from positive psychology and neuroscience, into practical
strategies for health, happiness, and business success. An honorary fellow at
Melbourne University’s Graduate School of Education, she regularly blogs for
Psychology Today and Huffington Post among other publications.
Editors and contributors xi
Ryan M. Niemiec
Dr Ryan M. Niemiec is a leading figure in the education, research, and prac-
tice of character strengths. He is education director of the VIA Institute on
Character, a global, non-profit organization in Cincinnati that advances the
science of character strengths. He’s an award-winning psychologist, annual
instructor at the University of Pennsylvania, international keynoter, and Fellow
of the International Positive Psychology Association. Ryan is author of several
books including Character Strengths Interventions and Mindfulness and Character
Strengths.
Siobhain O’Riordan
Dr Siobhain O'Riordan PhD is a Chartered Psychologist, Chartered Scientist,
Fellow and Accredited Coaching Psychologist, and Supervisor of the International
Society for Coaching Psychology. She is an Associate Director of the Centre for
Positive Transitions and Centre for Coaching, London. Siobhain is also former
Editor of The Coaching Psychologist and the International Journal of Health
Promotion and Education. Currently she remains active as an Editor or Co-Editor
of a number of publications in the fields of psychology and health promotion
including the European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology.
Sheila Panchal
Sheila Panchal CPsychol is a business psychologist with over 15 years of
experience working across a range of sectors. She has a focus on positive
psychology and transitions. Sheila is co-editor of ‘Developmental Coaching: Life
transitions and generational perspectives’ (with Palmer, 2011), and co-director of
the Centre for Positive Transitions. She is a visiting lecturer at Westminster and
City Universities, and has contributed to articles in the fields of organisational,
coaching, and positive psychology.
Rebecca Reynolds
Rebecca Reynolds is a lecturer and researcher at UNSW Sydney, a Registered
Nutritionist with the Nutrition Society of Australia, and the owner of the lifestyle
consultancy, ‘The Real Bok Choy’. Her research focuses on eating disorders,
including orthorexia nervosa. She genuinely cares about people, other animals,
and the environment; and is dedicated to promoting balanced, real, and ethical
lifestyle habits.
Rachael Skews
Rachael is a lecturer in occupational psychology at the Institute of Management
Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London. Her core research area is contextual
behavioural science in coaching psychology. She is a member of the British
Psychological Society and the Special Group for Coaching Psychology, and the
Honorary Secretary of the International Society for Coaching Psychology.
xii Editors and contributors
Wendy Smith
Wendy is a registered psychologist in Australia and France and a trained coach.
She is Director of ECLOREV, a boutique coaching psychology consulting
business. Wendy focuses on assisting individual’s and teams through change,
team coherence, leadership development, increase wellbeing, and resilience
through positive coaching psychology principles. Wendy is a member of a Lions
Club International holding various board positions. She was a columnist for The
Expatriates Magazine providing advice on adjusting to living in Paris.
Gordon B. Spence
Gordon B. Spence is Program Director of the Masters of Business Coaching,
Sydney Business School (University of Wollongong) with particular in
mindfulness, leadership, employee engagement, and workplace wellbeing. He
has 15 years’ experience providing executive/workplace coaching, training and
consulting services to a range of organisations. Gordon has also been a past co-
chair of the Science Advisory Council, Institute of Coaching (Harvard University),
and co-editor of the Sage Handbook of Coaching (2017).
Eric Winters
Eric is a resilient mindset specialist, helping people to build better brains and
manage them more skilfully when challenged (i.e. much of the time for today’s
workforce or anyone in a relationship)! His work is supported by two Masters
degrees in human behaviour change and 30 years’ experience of building both
technical and psychological capability in high performing individuals and teams.
When not giving talks or workshops, he enjoys walking with echidnas in National
Parks.
Editors and contributors xiii
Taylor & Francis
Taylor & Francis Group
http:/taylorandfrancis.com
Foreword
Positive psychology and health
and wellbeing
Professor Sir Cary Cooper
When Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi (2000) wrote their ground breaking
article on positive psychology in the American Psychologist they argued that
psychology shouldn’t just be about the negative aspects of behaviour or just the
healing or reparation profession but about creating positive wellbeing cultures,
about hope, personal growth and flourishing. This was picked up by others
suggesting that improving mental health in the workplace should not only be
about stress management but also about enhancing wellbeing, encouraging
leaders to create environ ments where people feel trusted and valued, are given
more control and autonomy at work, and where they get some balance between
their work and personal/home life (Hart & Cooper, 2001). Since that time,
research into the impact of positive psychology in the workplace has grown and
morphed into the wellbeing movement (Robertson & Cooper, 2010; Johnson,
Robertson & Cooper, 2018). The research has highlighted that psychological
wellbeing at work can reduce mental ill health, stress-related absence, and labour
turnover, and enhance performance and productivity.
In this book we have another, and very important, development, the extension
of the positive psychology approach to coaching. This book is a landmark book
in the field of workplace wellbeing because it brings together all the theories, the
neuroscience, potential intervention strategies and leadership models that are
necessary for providing a more sustained coaching and work experience. Again,
moving away from a particularly “stress management” approach via a coaching
model to a more resilient and flourishing one. Suzy Green and Stephen Palmer
have created a “coaching map” for the future that takes a more positive approach
to dealing with the individual and the organisation, which helps to make the
workplace more productive, with more resilient and flexible leadership and with
value systems that are more sustainable in the longer term. Reflection time in a
rapidly changing world is critical, positive psychology coaching can help facilitate
this. As Leonardo da Vinci once wrote when under stress: “Every now and then
go away and have a little relaxation. To remain constantly at work will diminish
your judgement. Go some distance away, because work will be in perspective and
a lack of harmony is more readily seen.” This is the challenge for the positive
psychology movement and coaching in the future as it provides this space.
Professor Sir Cary Cooper
ALLIANCE Manchester Business School,
University of Manchester
References
Hart, P.M., & Cooper, C.L. (2001). Occupational stress: Towards a more integrated
framework. In N. Anderson et al. (Eds.), Handbook of Work, Industrial and
Organizational Psychology: Volume 2, London: Sage.
Johnson, S., Robertson, I., & Cooper, C.L. (2018). Wellbeing: Productivity and
Happiness at Work. (2nd ed.). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Robertson, I., & Cooper, C.L. (2010). Wellbeing: Productivity and Happiness at
Work. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Seligman, M., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction.
American Psychologist, 55, 5–14.
xvi Foreword
Preface
The field of positive psychology (PP) research and practice is now 20 years old,
and it has experienced significant growth since its formal launch in 1998
(Seligman, 1998; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). It is generally acknow -
ledged that PP is an “umbrella term” and that it covers many different topics from
a diverse range of disciplines. A review of the literature by Rusk & Waters (2013)
found that the most densely concentrated PP topics are life satisfaction/happiness,
motivation/achievement, optimism, and organisational citizenship/fairness.
In a similar vein, the field of coaching psychology (CP) has experienced
significant growth in research and practice. There are now three meta-analytic
studies (Theeboom, Beersma, & van Vianen, 2014; Jones, Woods, & Guillaume,
2015; Sonesh, Coultas, Lacerenza, Marlow, Benishek, & Salas, 2015) and one
systematic review (Lai & McDowall, 2014) which highlight that coaching is
effective, although the field could benefit from more randomised controlled trials
(for example Spence & Grant, 2005).
While the two fields have previously been defined as complementary (Green,
2014; Green & Spence, 2014) and there are some published journal articles and
conference presentations on the integration of PP and CP (a review is provided
in Chapter 1), there is currently no edited academic text available, which we the
co-editors are aware of, on the combination of both approaches, i.e. positive
psychology coaching, especially from a scientifically supported perspective.
Hence, our book aims to provide the evidence-based coach or positive psychology
practitioner with an overview of positive psychology coaching and why the field
of positive psychology and coaching psychology should be integrated, particularly
in evidence-based practice.
This book is the result of numerous discussions between the co-editors over
many years as to how best to integrate the two complementary scientific fields
of positive psychology and coaching psychology. Despite the large distance that
exists between us (Suzy is based in Australia and Stephen in the United
Kingdom), we have been able to continue these conversations and develop our
thinking through collaborative projects and conference presentations in Australia,
United Kingdom, and continental Europe. We realised that despite a handful
of books and publications available on the topic, there was no text currently in
existence which considered various types of positive psychology research and
practice in an evidence-based coaching context and brought this together under
one title. Hence, “Positive Psychology Coaching in Practice” was conceived.
Our main aim was to provide an edited text that brought together the best of
science and practice, highlighting not only the current research but more
importantly a review of what that science may or may not look like in evidence-
based coaching practice.
We first identified chapter authors who were 1) evidence-based coaching prac -
ti tioners and 2) experts in a specific field of positive psychology, to bring together
the best of current research on various topics of positive psychology. We placed
a strong emphasis on chapter authors as “pracademics”; i.e., those who were well
versed in the science, however, were first and foremost coaching practitioners.
Second, we asked the authors to provide an introduction and overview of their
topic, highlighting the development of the field and the current state of research,
e.g. mindfulness. We then asked them to focus on practice and to consider what
the coach may need to consider for themselves as coach, for the coachee and the
broader organisational system(s) if relevant. What they might need to know in
order to prepare and get the most out of coaching applied in this way, highlighting
how theory is applied to the practice.
Then, we asked them to describe which coachees and what sorts of coaching
engagements would the approach be helpful with and to include the type of
problems they might explore in coaching. We also asked them to identify any
limitations of the approach applied to this particular field (e.g. resilience or health
and wellbeing coaching). Finally, we asked them to conclude the chapter with a
case study.
In Chapter 1, we (the co-editors) provide an introduction and historical over -
view of positive psychology coaching. The book is then organised into chapters
dedicated to distinct areas of positive psychology and their application in
coaching.
In Chapter 2, John Franklin provides an overview of key theories of wellbeing
and flourishing such as Self-Determination Theory, PERMA, and his own needs-
based theory of flourishing. As evidence-based practitioners, a thorough know -
ledge of theory is crucial, particularly when it comes to wellbeing science, given
the focus of positive psychology coaching is not just on achievement per se but
achievement and wellbeing together. In Chapter 3, Gordon Spence focuses on the
burgeoning research base of mindfulness as a “foundation of flourishing” and its
crucial role in coaching for both coach and coachee. In many ways, we would
suggest that mindfulness is a core tool for any evidence-based coach and forms
the foundation of application of the many other approaches and strategies
contained in the remaining chapters.
Sarah McKay and Travis Kemp summarise and critique the current state of
neuro science in Chapter 4 and provide a guide to key areas that have applica-
bility in coaching context such as the psychoeducation as to the concept of
neuroplasticity. In Chapter 5, Michelle McQuaid, Ryan Niemiec, and Fatima
xviii Preface
Doman review a strengths-based approach to coaching, another core tool in the
positive psychology coach’s toolkit and one that many coaches may already be
implementing. They provide a thorough review of evidence-based strengths-
assessment tools, with a focus on how coaching can really assist in applying
strengths, which remains arguably the greatest challenge in taking a strengths-
based approach.
Chapter 6 focuses on the application of ACT in coaching, with a great
overview and reflections on practice by Rachel Collis and Eric Winters. While
traditionally a therapeutic approach, there is growing recognition that there is
great applicability of ACT in a coaching context. In Chapter 7, Daniela Falecki,
Clive Leach, and Suzy Green bring Seligman’s model of PERMA to life in a
coaching context considering how each of the core components of PERMA can
be built on in a coaching engagement.
In Chapter 8, Rebecca Reynolds, Stephen Palmer, and Suzy Green weigh in on
health coaching, where there is a growing interest in the community as a
proactive approach to creating wellness and also in supporting adherence to
lifestyle changes for the prevention of health-related diseases such as diabetes.
In Chapter 9, Rachael Skews, Stephen Palmer, and Suzy Green review the
resilience literature and discuss an approach to building resilience and mental
toughness in coaching.
In Chapter 10, Ilona Boniwell and Wendy-Ann Smith bring Positive Leadership
theory and practice to life within an evidence-based coaching context. Next, in
Chapter 11, Sheila Panchal, Stephen Palmer, and Siobhain O’Riordan consider
the application of developmental psychological theories as they relate to coaching
through significant life transitions.
The concluding chapter by the co-editors provides a glimpse of what we
believe is the future of positive psychology coaching. We review directions for
future research and implication for practice, including the second wave of
positive psychology. We also provide a list of relevant organisations (see
Appendix 1), questionnaires and inventories (see Appendix 2).
This book aims to first and foremost provide knowledge on the various positive
psychology approaches that may be utilised in evidence-based coaching practice.
We would, however, suggest that a positive psychology coach, like any great
coach, would first look to apply the science to themselves and their own lives
prior to utilising on clients, and in that vein, the book also promotes its use to
support a coach’s “way of being” (Rogers, 1980).
Finally, we would like to thank our authors for the excellent contributions they
have written for this book.
References
Green, L.S. (2014). Positive education: An Australian perspective. In P.A. Alexander,
M.J. Furlong, R. Gilman, & E.S. Huebner (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology
in schools (2nd ed.). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Preface xix
Green, S., & Spence, G.B. (2014). Evidence-based coaching as a positive psychological
intervention. In A.C. Parks & S. Schueller (Eds.), The Wiley Blackwell handbook
of positive psychological inter ventions (pp. 273–285). Oxford, UK: Wiley Blackwell.
Jones, R.J., Woods, S.A., & Guillaume, Y.R.F. (2015). The effectiveness of workplace
coaching: A meta-analysis of learning and performance outcomes from coaching.
Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 89(2), 249–277.
Lai, Y., & McDowall, A. (2014). A systematic review of coaching psychology:
Focusing on the attributes of effective coaching psychologists. International
Coaching Psychology Review, 9(2), 118–134.
Rogers, C.R. (1980). A way of being. Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin.
Rusk, R.D., & Waters, L.E. (2013). Tracing the size, reach, impact, and breadth of
positive psychology. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8(3), 207–221.
Seligman, M.E.P. (1998). Building human strength: Psychology’s forgotten mission.
APA Monitor, 29(1), 2.
Seligman, M.E.P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An
introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5–14.
Sonesh, C.S., Coultas, C.W., Lacerenza, C.N., Marlow, S.L., Benishek, L.E., & Salas,
E. (2015). The power of coaching: A meta-analytic investigation. Coaching: An
International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 8(2), 73–79.
Spence, G.B., & Grant, A.M. (2005). Individual and group life coaching: Initial
findings from a randomised, controlled trial. In M. Cavanagh, A.M. Grant, &
T. Kemp (Eds.), Evidence-based coaching. Volume 1: Theory, research and
practice from the behavioural sciences (pp. 143–158). Bowen Hills, QLD:
Australian Academic Press.
Theeboom, T., Beersma, B., & van Vianen, A.E. (2014). Does coaching work?
A meta-analysis of the effects of coaching on individual level outcomes in an
organizational context. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 9, 1–18.
xx Preface
Acknowledgements
Figure 1.2 Proposed model of goal striving and mental health (republished with
kind permission of A. Grant)
Figure 12.1 The Integrative Cognitive-Behavioural Coaching Model (published
with kind permission of the National Wellbeing Service Ltd.)
Taylor & Francis
Taylor & Francis Group
http:/taylorandfrancis.com
Positive psychology coaching
Science into practice
Suzy Green and Stephen Palmer
Introduction
The field of positive psychology (PP) research and practice is now two decades
old, and it has experienced significant growth since its formal launch in 1998
(Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). It is generally acknowledged that PP is an
“umbrella term” and that it covers many different topics from a diverse range
of disciplines. PP scientific literature has also grown rapidly, with a relatively
recent review of the literature by Rusk and Waters (2013), who found that the
most densely concentrated PP topics are life satisfaction/happiness, motivation/
achievement, optimism, and organisational citizenship/fairness.
In a similar vein, the field of coaching psychology has experienced significant
growth in both research and practice literature. Three meta-analysis studies
(Theeboom, Beersma, & van Vianen, 2014; Jones, Woods, & Guillaume, 2015;
Sonesh, Coultas, Lacerenza, Marlow, Benishek, & Salas, 2015) and one systematic
review (Lai & McDowall, 2014) do highlight that coaching is effective, although
the field could benefit from more randomised controlled trials (for example
Spence & Grant, 2005). In an international survey focusing on coaching
psychology practice, with more than 200 research participants involved, when
asked the question, Which one of the following approaches or underpinning
models do you use MOST of all within your coaching/coaching psychology
practice?, the responses highlighted the increasing influence of positive
psychology underpinning practice. The top ten approaches reported are the
following (Palmer & Whybrow, 2017):
1. Cognitive-behavioural coaching (CBC)
2. Solution-focused cognitive-behavioural coaching (SFCBC)
3. Positive psychology and solution-focused coaching (SFC) (equal in third
position)
5. Neurolinguistic programming
6. Co-active and eclectic (equal in sixth position)
8. Integrative, mindfulness, and psychodynamic coaching (equal in eighth
position)
Chapter 1
Why such interest in the first four approaches? If we look back over the past
couple of decades, the popularity in cognitive-behavioural and solution-focused
approaches to coaching had a boost in 2001, with the groundbreaking doctoral
research of Anthony Grant (2001), which found that these two therapeutic
approaches adapted to coaching were effective for personal development and
goal attainment – the very sphere of practice that coaching focuses on. Grant also
suggested that these two approaches could provide a platform for a positive
psychology. In the coaching psychology field, some of the most well-known
prolific researchers and authors publish many articles, chapters, and books on
CBC, SFCBC, and SFC, and how the approaches can be applied to different areas
of practice, such as goal striving (e.g. Green, Oades, & Grant, 2006), prevention
of mental health problems, enhancing performance, reduction of work-related
stress (e.g. Palmer & Gyllensten, 2008), high performance, enhancing well-
being/resilience, and fatigue (e.g. Grant, 2017). It is likely that numerous research
and practice publications have influenced practitioners with an interest in
evidence-based coaching (EBC) practice to use a combination of CBC, SFCBC,
and SFC, underpinned and informed with a positive psychology philosophy.
In addition, these three approaches are often used by positive psychology
practitioners. It is worth noting that the most popular framework or model used
by coaches and coaching psychologists is GROW according to two surveys
focusing separately on coaching and coaching psychology practice (see Palmer
& Whybrow, 2017). (In Chapter 12, page 201, we provide another interesting
aspect of the survey relating directly to positive psychology.)
Positive psychology and its role in coaching
While the two fields have been defined as complementary (Green, 2014) and
there are some dedicated journal articles and conference presentations on the
integration of PP and CP, there are currently limited published texts available on
the combination of both approaches, i.e. positive psychology coaching (PPC),
especially from a scientifically supported perspective. This chapter aims to give
an historical account of the simultaneous emergence of the two complementary
fields, an overview of the current status, and an outline of the authors’
recommendations for how the two fields may continue to be integrated.
The emergence of positive psychology
The field of positive psychology was formally launched in 1998 with Martin
Seligman’s presidential speech to the American Psychological Society (1999).
Positive psychology, as a scientific field, now has close to 5000 citations (a recent
PsychInfo search using the term “Positive Psychology” found 4955 hits). There
are dedicated international and national bodies, conferences, and publications,
e.g. International Positive Psychology Association, Journal of Positive Psychology,
European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology.
2 Suzy Green and Stephen Palmer
Positive psychology has been formally defined as “the science of the conditions
and processes that lead to optimal human functioning” (Gable & Haidt, 2005,
p. 104). There has also been a differentiation between “positive psychology” as a
research science investigating the conditions and processes of optimal human
functioning and “applied positive psychology” as the application of positive
psychology research into practice.
It is also important to note that positive psychology has been referred to as
an “umbrella term” (Linley & Joseph, 2004), whereby there are multiple psycho -
logical constructs that fall under this umbrella and hence a large research base for
a positive psychology coach or practitioner to draw from, dependent on the client
or audience need, e.g. gratitude, forgiveness, love, post-traumatic growth,
mindfulness.
Since positive psychology’s inception, there have been numerous “applied
positive psychology” studies. These types of interventions are referred to as
“positive psychology interventions” (PPIs). PPIs have been defined as “treatment
methods or intentional activities that aim to cultivate positive feelings, behaviours,
or cognitions (Sin & Lyubomirsky, 2009).
Up to the publication of this book, there have been two meta-analyses
conducted on PPIs. Sin and Lyubomirsky (2009) conducted a meta-analysis of
51 PPIs with 4266 individuals. The results revealed that PPIs do indeed
significantly enhance wellbeing (mean r5.29) and decrease depressive symptoms
(mean r5.31). In 2013, Bolier, Haverman, Westerhof, Riper, Smit, and Bohlmeijer
completed another PPI and found that PPIs can be effective in the enhancement
of subjective and psychological wellbeing, as well as in helping to reduce
depressive symptoms. In both these meta-analyses, coaching interventions were
included and identified as PPIs (Green et al., 2006; Spence & Grant, 2007).
The emergence of coaching psychology
Coaching psychology has been defined as the “enhancement of well-being and
performance in personal life and work domains underpinned by models of
coaching grounded in child and adult learning or psychological theories and
approaches” (adapted from Grant & Palmer, 2002). Coaching psychology has
also been defined as the “systematic application of behavioural science [within
coaching a context] to the enhancement of life experience, work performance and
well-being of individuals, groups and organizations” (Grant, 2007a, p. 23). In this
definition, coaching psychology is an applied science and somewhat narrowly
focused on the use of knowledge from a specific domain (i.e. behavioural
science).
Both the definitions acknowledge the importance of the application of
psychological and behavioural science into practice. Similarly to positive
psychology and its application through PPIs, coaching psychology’s application
is in “evidence-based coaching.” We, the authors, believe that the use of the term
“evidence-based coaching” is important as the term clearly suggests that the
PPC: Science into practice 3
coaching is based on scientific theory and research and differentiates it from
“coaching as usual,” which may or may not refer to the underpinning science
of coaching psychology.
Grant and Stober (2006) defined EBC as “the intelligent and conscientious use
of best current knowledge integrated with practitioner expertise in making
decisions about how to deliver coaching” (p. 6, italics in original), with “best
current knowledge” defined as “up-to-date information from relevant, valid
research, theory and practice” (Grant & Stober, p. 6). As such, the evidence-based
coach’s practice can potentially be informed by knowledge drawn from multiple
disciplines (e.g. psychology, sociology, adult learning, education, organisational
behaviour, business management). Given coaching psychology’s definition clearly
suggests that it is for the enhancement of wellbeing, the need for evidence-based
coaches and positive psychology coaches to refer to the knowledge base of
positive psychology becomes clear and urgent.
While coaching psychology has been defined as an “applied positive psychology”
(Australian Psychological Society Interest Group in Coaching Psychology), our
aim in this chapter is to explore the comple mentarity and integration of both fields
and what they have to offer to the further development (research and practice) of
“PPC” and more practically to the “positive psychology coach.”
Positive psychology and coaching psychology:
Best friends
As noted earlier, positive psychology has been defined as “the study of the
conditions and processes that contribute to the flourishing (wellbeing) or optimal
functioning of people, groups, and institutions” (Gable & Haidt, 2005, p. 103).
As such, comparison between the definitions of both coaching psychology and
positive psychology clearly highlights the link between both disciplines being a
focus on the cultivation of optimal functioning and wellbeing.
In an applied sense, however, there are clear differences. That is, PPIs are
primarily intentional activities whose end goal is to increase wellbeing (i.e.
cultivate pleasure, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment
[PERMA]; Seligman, 2011), whereas EBC encourages individuals to set and
strive for personally meaningful goals within the framework of a collaborative
relationship whose end goal is first and foremost, goal attainment; however,
wellbeing is often a by-product of the goal-striving process (Green et al., 2006).
While research has shown that EBC can provide a pathway to wellbeing
(Green et al., 2006; Spence & Grant, 2007), it is therefore possible to view
coaching as an applied positive psychology; however, we would argue, as Green
and O’Connor (2017) have also argued, that when positive psychology is used in
a more explicit way, it can offer much more than a standard PPI (whose aim is
to purely increase wellbeing) and becomes an “amplifier,” whereby coaching
is used as a methodology to sustain the wellbeing gains experienced in the use of
other PPIs. We will expand further on this below.
4 Suzy Green and Stephen Palmer
While personal and/or professional goals may vary within a coaching context
from more specific goals such as “completing a thesis” or “writing a book,” it is
the authors’ experience that many people seeking coaching, whether that’s life,
wellness, or executive and leadership coaching, also seek to increase their overall
wellbeing and for other issues relating to personal growth and development
(i.e. optimal functioning). Given that positive psychology is concerned with the
conditions that support flourishing within individuals, groups, and communities
(Gable & Haidt, 2005), it becomes clear why the evidence-based coach might
look to the science of positive psychology for reference to the latest scientific
findings on these topics in aid of supporting their coachee goals and desires.
While there have been various debates over the years as to whether coaches
are pure facilitators (i.e. they do not give consultation or advice), we would argue
that there would be times when the evidence-based coach (particularly if operating
under a professional legal and ethical obligation) would have a “duty of care” to
share latest best practice and as such provide information and support to the
coachee to support their goals of enhanced wellbeing and optimal functioning.
Coaching for optimal functioning and wellbeing
Coaching for the enhancement of optimal functioning and wellbeing has existed
since the late 1980s when “executive coaching” first emerged. However, much of
the early focus in executive coaching was on peak performance and achievement
of professional and organisational goals rather than the enhancement of well-
being or overall optimal functioning or self-actualisation per se. More recently,
however, with the emergence of work-life balance as a common goal in executive
and organisational settings and the increasing recognition that wellbeing plays a
significant role in engagement and performance (Witters & Agrawal, 2015), this
has resulted in coaching becoming more holistic and focused on the broader
health and wellbeing of executives and employees.
Outside of organisational settings, wellbeing has had a much larger focus.
Within the life coaching “boom” (Naughton, 2002), individuals have engaged
with the services of “life coaches” to assist with broader life goals and in
managing a wide range of issues including life transitions (e.g. retirement), career
transitions, entrepreneurial ventures, relationship issues, and lifestyle modifications
(e.g. improve physical and/or mental health and wellbeing). Similarly, we have
seen the emergence of health coaching (Palmer, Tubbs, & Whybrow, 2003;
Palmer, 2004), wellbeing coaching (Palmer, 2012), and wellness coaching
(Auerbach, 2014), where a knowledge of psychological wellbeing and broader
health-related issues is also relevant.
Strategic integration of positive psychology and
coaching psychology
As has been outlined herein, both positive psychology and PPIs and coaching
psychology and EBC can be utilised to enhance wellbeing and optimal functioning
PPC: Science into practice 5
across a variety of settings; however, currently these approaches primarily
operate largely in isolation from each other. For example, an organisation or a
school might undertake “leadership coaching” but not necessarily utilise PPIs
(such as strengths assessment and development) as part of that program, and
similarly, an organisation or a school might have invested in training or work-
shops in positive psychology, positive organisational scholarship, or positive
leadership and be utilising a range of PPIs (gratitude, acts of kindness, etc.) in the
workplace but not be drawing on leadership coaching or broader workplace EBC
as a means to “transfer training” (Olivero, Bane, & Kopelman, 1997) to ensure
sustainability.
We would argue that any organisation or school wishing to enhance the overall
wellbeing and optimal functioning of their leaders, staff (students), and broader
community should look to consider a combined approach of training, coaching,
and consulting. While an initial investment in training or workshops on the
science of positive psychology can provide a “shared understanding” (Mroz &
Quinn, 2010) as to what the science tells us in regard to the enhancement of well-
being/optimal functioning, as noted above, EBC can act as an “amplifier” and
means to increase retention of knowledge, enhance transfer of training, and be an
integral part of a sustainability strategy (Green & O’Connor, 2017). For example,
if after receiving a workshop on “mental toughness” staff are provided with
follow-up coaching support that helped the individual apply their knowledge in
a personally and professionally meaningful and relevant way through a coaching
relationship, then the learning is likely to become personalised and the goals
more fully owned by the individual (Spence & Oades, 2011).
PPC could also be utilised (as a stand-alone or post-workshop) (either on an
individual or group basis) to provide additional opportunities to set new goals in
regard to other positive psychology concepts including gratitude, kindness,
forgiveness, etc. Coaching then allows individuals to make meaning of the
positive psychology concepts in practically applying them to their lives, drawing
on the goal-setting and goal-striving methodologies of coaching.
Another reason it would behove an organisation or a school to consider the use
of both training and coaching relates to the potential impact that can occur at
different levels of human systems. While both PPIs and EBC are known to
enhance wellbeing at the individual level, the use of social network analysis in
recent coaching trials has revealed that workplace coaching (without the use of
PPIs) can enhance positivity within organisational teams, creating a “ripple
effect” that extends beyond those who are directly involved in coaching
interventions (O’Connor & Cavanagh, 2013).
Therefore, if an organisation wanted to create a more engaging and supportive
culture, research suggests that PPIs provide useful methods for creating such
conditions (e.g. by managers using strengths spotting with teams), and if these
methods are complemented by EBC or stand-alone PPC, change can be further
embedded within the system as individuals explore how such methods might be
most usefully employed at individual, team, and organisational levels.
6 Suzy Green and Stephen Palmer
Training, coaching, or PPC
Many organisations today invest heavily in learning and development activities
for their staff and are understandably keen to maximise those investments by
ensuring what is learnt in training translates into sustainable action at work. In a
widely cited study, Olivero et al. (1997) reported that coaching substantially
enhanced the transfer of training. The researchers argued that there is a qualitative
difference in the type of learning that takes place in training and coaching, with
training supporting the abstract learning of knowledge, while coaching supports
the specific application of learning by individuals into their personal or
professional lives. Coaching also provides the opportunity to practice and gain
constructive feedback regarding the subject matter learnt during training and its
personal application. Green and Spence (2014) have also previously argued that
any explicit training in positive psychology principles could be enhanced through
the use of coaching to support the transfer of training and sustain application.
In addition, while we would recommend the use of training (workshops) to
learn the science of positive psychology (positive organisational scholarship,
positive leadership) and the use of coaching to meaningfully apply the science
post-training, we would further suggest that PPC could act as a stand-alone
intervention or service to individuals and teams, whereby they are both learning
and applying the science of positive psychology within a coaching context.
The emergence and history of PPC
The term “positive psychology coaching” was first coined by Robert Biswas-
Diener and Ben Dean (2007) in a book of the same name. Biswas-Diener, a well-
known academic and practitioner in the field of positive psychology, went on to
publish a further book on the topic Practicing Positive Psychology Coaching as
a guide to both coaching and positive psychology practitioners to utilise the
extensive research base that exists on wellbeing and optimal human functioning
in the field of positive psychology (Biswas-Diener, 2010). Driver (2011) focused
on what he described as “positive coaching” in his book Coaching Positively:
Lessons for Coaches from Positive Psychology. Driver covered a wide range of
topics, highlighting how positive psychology can inform coaching practice.
Auerbach and Foster’s book (2015) Positive Psychology in Coaching highlights
key scientifically based interventions aimed at enhancing human experience. The
authors’ suggest that positive psychology is providing the scientific basis for
improved coaching techniques. It is important to note though that these books are
not scientific texts but more so practice guides with reference to the research but
a focus on application and tools to be utilised in coaching practice.
There have also been numerous conference presentations on the use of positive
psychology within a coaching context at both positive psychology conferences
and coaching conferences. The co-editors (Green & Palmer, 2014) them-
selves have presented and argued for greater integration of the field of positive
PPC: Science into practice 7
psychology and coaching psychology – the scientific field that underpins coaching
(Green & Palmer, 2014; Green, Palmer, & Boniwell, 2016).
As noted, there have been some early scholarly publications on the integration
and implementation of positive psychology within coaching (see list of key
publications in Table 1.1), and in 2007, the International Coaching Psychology
Review published a special edition on positive psychology. However, the term
“PPC” only became popularised in the last 10 years as a result of some influential
publications (Biswas-Diener & Dean, 2007; Biswas-Diener, 2010).
A recent search found that while there are a number of studies that combine
coaching and positive psychology approaches (185 found in a recent PsychInfo
search), to date there is only one scientific study that utilised the term “positive
psychology coaching.” On review of this study, however, it was observed that it
utilised a combination of positive psychology training with a coaching approach
rather than individual one-on-one (positive psychology) coaching (Guzmán,
Wenborn, Ledgerd, & Orrell, 2017).
It is also important to note that historically there are published EBC studies
that have utilised positive psychological constructs as dependent variables.
These include the first published randomised controlled trial of life coaching for
the enhancement of goal striving, wellbeing, and hope (Green et al., 2006) and
a subse quent study that compared professional and peer life coaching for the
enhance ment of goal striving and wellbeing (Spence & Grant, 2007). While the
EBC methodologies used in these studies did not specifically include positive
psychology techniques (i.e. gratitude visits or random acts of kindness), their aim
was to increase both goal striving and wellbeing. Both of these studies were
included in the two meta-analyses conducted on PPIs referred to earlier.
While there are many aspects of coaching psychology (Palmer & Whybrow,
2008) and its associated practice of EBC, which are easily identifiable as “positive
psychology” in nature, e.g. utilises a strengths-based approach, we would argue
that there are many other areas of positive psychology research that can be more
explicitly applied in EBC practice and by the PPC. The authors have previously
suggested (Green & Palmer, 2014) that PPCs become “facilitators of felicitation,”
whereby they act as a wellbeing enabler via the utilisation of positive psychology
research into coaching practice.
In the first identified publication on positive psychology and coaching in 2004,
Kauffman and Scoular in their chapter entitled “Towards a positive psychology
of executive coaching” make explicit links between positive psychology and
coaching psychology. This chapter was published in the seminal book Positive
Psychology in Practice (Linley & Joseph, 2004). Similarly, Seligman in 2007 in
Australian Psychologist made the shared goals of positive psychology and
coaching easily identifiable. He stated, “Positive psychology can provide coaching
with a delimited scope of practice, with interventions and measurements that
work, and with a view of adequate qualifications to be a coach” (p. 266).
In 2007, the term “positive psychology coaching” was formally launched, as
noted earlier, with Biswas-Diener’s book Positive Psychology Coaching. While
8 Suzy Green and Stephen Palmer
Biswas-Diener did not articulate a scientific definition, in 2009, Kaufmann et al.,
in their chapter entitled “The positive psychology approach to coaching” in the
book Complete Handbook of Coaching, defined it as “a scientifically-rooted
approach to helping clients increase well-being, enhance and apply strengths,
improve performance, and achieve valued goals” (p. 158).
More recently, Biswas-Diener has suggested that PPC is not an endeavor
distinct from coaching itself; rather it is an approach to coaching. That is, includes
“coaching as usual” – if you were to see someone do it you would see all the
usual suspects: agenda setting, powerful questions, and accountability. But
overlaid on this foundation of good coaching would be a series of interventions
that are grounded in positive psychological science. Harnessing positive emotion,
developing strengths, and increasing hope, for instance. And while these topics
might seem to be what all good coaches do anyway, a positive psychology coach
PPC: Science into practice 9
Table 1.1 Selected Key Historical PPC Publications
Kauffman & Scoular (2004) Towards a positive psychology of executive coaching
(Book: Positive Psychology in Practice)
Kauffman (2006) Positive psychology: The science at the heart of coaching
(Book: Evidence-Based Coaching Handbook)
Seligman (2007) Coaching and positive psychology (Journal: Australian
Psychologist)
Linley & Kauffman (2007) Positive coaching psychology (Journal: International
Coaching Psychology Review – Special Edition)
Biswas-Diener & Dean Positive Psychology Coaching (Book)
(2007)
Kauffman, Boniwell, & PPC (Book: The SAGE Handbook of Coaching)
Silberman (2009)
Biswas-Diener (2010) Practicing Positive Psychology Coaching (Book)
Grant & Cavanagh (2011) Coaching and positive psychology (Book: Designing Positive
Psychology)
Kauffman & Linley (2011) The meeting of the minds: Positive psychology and
coaching psychology (Journal: Leadership Development)
Green & Norrish (2013) Enhancing wellbeing in adolescents: Positive psychology &
coaching psychology interventions in schools (Book:
Research, Applications and Interventions for Children and
Adolescents: A Positive Psychology Perspective)
Passmore & Oades (2014) Positive psychology coaching: A model for coaching
practice (Journal: The Coaching Psychologist)
Passmore & Oades (2015) Positive psychology techniques: Positive case
conceptualisation (Journal: The Coaching Psychologist)
Pritchard & van The perceptual changes in life experience of at-risk
Nieuwerburgh (2016) adolescent girls following an integrated coaching and PPI
group programme (Journal: International Coaching Psychology
Review)
Guzman et al. (2017) Evaluation of a staff training programme using positive
psychology coaching with film and theatre elements in
care homes (Journal: International Journal of Older People
Nursing)
is explicitly guided by dynamic research insights (Personal communication –
Robert Biswas-Diener, 2014).
PPC: A new working definition
While there have been some attempts at defining PPC as noted above, in this
chapter, we propose PPC is defined as “evidence-based coaching practice
informed by the theories and research of positive psychology for the enhancement
of resilience, achievement and wellbeing” (Green & Palmer, 2014). While these
three key areas are related, each has a body of research underpinning it and
each may become the core focus of a coaching intervention. For example, a
coachee may want to specifically increase their levels of mental toughness and
resilience off the back of an assessment such as the MTQ48. In another scenario,
a coachee may specifically want to focus on the achievement of a specific goal
such as completing a thesis. Finally, which is possibly the most common, for
PPC, coachees may wish to focus whole-heartedly on their levels of happiness
and wellbeing. As such, the coaching intervention may focus on one specific area
such as increasing wellbeing; however, there is opportunity for the evidence-
based coach to refer to the related areas of resilience and achievement and discuss
with the coachee how these three areas are interrelated.
The RAW Model of Flourishing (see Figure 1.1) has provided us (the authors)
with a framework to consider how these approaches are connected and to further
understand the integration of positive psychology and coaching psychology
within an EBC context.
10 Suzy Green and Stephen Palmer
Green & Palmer, 2014
Coaching Psychology
Clinical
Psychology Positive
Psychology
RAW Model of Flourishing
ACHIEVEMENT
RESILIENCE WELLBEING
Figure 1.1 Model of Flourishing
The RAW Model of Flourishing
The RAW Model consists of three core components:
1. Resilience
2. Achievement
3. Wellbeing.
We will now briefly discuss these three components below.
Resilience
The “resilience” component draws on research that historically was conducted
within developmental psychological and social science research. While resilience
has been defined as a “multi-dimensional construct” (Masten, 1989; Cicchetti &
Garmezy, 1993; Luthar, Doernberger, & Zigler, 1993; Gartland, Bond, Olsson,
Buzwell, & Sawyer, 2011), and debate continues as to a commonly agreed
definition, we, the authors, suggest that positive psychology practitioners look not
only to the broader research base on resilience but also to scientific research on
related constructs such as “mental toughness” (Clough, Earle, & Searle, 2002),
grit (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, & Kelly, 2007), psychological capital
(Luthans, 2002), which are easily introduced into an EBC context.
There are also many “clinical” tools (primarily from clinical psychology) that
are often taught to clients reactively in the treatment of clinical disorders, e.g.
anxiety management. We would argue that these same tools can, and should, be
used proactively in a resilience coaching engagement. This obviously requires the
practitioner to be accomplished in the use of these approaches. There may also
be benefit in referring coaching clients to specific training courses in cognitive-
behavioural, mindfulness-based, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to
assist in learning these techniques in depth. Thereby, the coaching can be used to
transfer the training knowledge into everyday practice rather than using the
coaching space for teaching such skills. Chapter 9 by Skews, Palmer, and Green
will provide an overview of the resilience literature and its use in an EBC context.
Achievement
The “achievement” component is where coaching psychology comes to the fore
and we would argue that it has a significant offering to the positive psychology
coach. While Seligman (2011) identified “accomplishment” as a key component
of wellbeing in his published theory/model of PERMA, it is important to note that
there is a long history of research on goals and wellbeing (that often sits within
the coaching psychology literature), which also supports the importance of
accomplishment or competence to wellbeing (Deci & Ryan, 2000).
Research also informs us that all goals are not created equal (Ryan, Sheldon,
Kasser, & Deci, 1996). That is, certain types of goals have been shown to detract
PPC: Science into practice 11
from wellbeing rather than support it. That is, the content of goal does matter. In
a classic article entitled “A Dark Side of the American Dream: Correlates of
Financial Success as a Central Life Aspiration” it was found that the pursuit
of financial success was negatively associated with psychological adjustment
when it predominates over other life goals (Kasser & Ryan, 1993).
In a similar vein, research from Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan,
2000) also highlights the importance of goal orientation or motivation that has
differentiated autonomous from controlled forms of motivation and shown that
controlled forms of motivation have been consistently shown to reduce both goal
attainment and wellbeing.
There is also a large research body that exists with the broader science of
psychology on topics such as goal motivation, goal commitment, goal striving,
and goal attainment, which is regularly utilised by an evidenced-based coach in
“coaching as usual” practice. However, for a positive psychology practitioner, who
has not received explicit education and training in EBC, there is a wealth of know -
ledge to be gained from further exploration of the field of coaching psychology.
Wellbeing
The “wellbeing” component is the realm of positive psychology research (e.g.
Green et al., 2006; Sin & Lyubomirsky, 2009; Green & Norrish, 2013). Topics
such as gratitude, kindness, post-traumatic growth, forgiveness provide a wealth
of knowledge for the EBC whose aim is to support their coachee increased levels
of psychological wellbeing. For a positive psychology practitioner who has
completed either post-graduate studies or further training in positive psychology,
this is the area that they would be most well-versed in. Dependent on the training
program, coaching may or may not have been included in course content, and if
so, we would argue that it is not to the depth that a Masters in Coaching
Psychology or dedicated coach training services would provide. At this point in
time, there are only two Masters that include positive psychology and coaching
psychology in their course titles. These are at the University of East London,
England, and the University College Cork, Ireland.
For the evidence-based coach who has trained in the science of coaching psy -
chology, we would suggest that an investment in education relating to positive
psychology and wellbeing is an important investment and should form part of
ongoing professional development. Having a well-informed and extensive
knowledge of the science and practice of positive psychology will help support
their own and their client’s wellbeing and overall optimal functioning.
RAW in practice
The RAW framework can be used within one-to-one coaching, group or team
coaching, or training. The coach or trainer can introduce the simple model and
discuss the three core components in relation to the coachee or client’s current
and desired situation. As noted above, a training or coaching session can focus
12 Suzy Green and Stephen Palmer
on one component alone; however, the introduction of the model allows
participants/coachees to see how these three core areas of flourishing are related
and can support or undermine each other. For example, it is common to witness
a “gritty” coachee making progress towards their goals, however, to the detriment
of their wellbeing or such progress leading to lower levels of resilience. The
overall aim of the RAW model is to highlight how each component supports each
other.
In comparison, we would also offer the WAR Model of Withering (or
languishing) that has three self-explanatory components:
1. Wellbeing sabotaging (e.g. poor nutrition, lack of exercise, poor sleep
patterns)
2. Achievement blocking (e.g. avoidance, procrastination, lack of prioritising
skills)
3. Resilience undermining (e.g. resilience undermining thoughts such as lack of
self-acceptance, rigid perfectionistic beliefs).
This alternative model can be discussed in coaching initially as a stepping
stone to RAW if the coachee has a very negative view of their situation.
Who benefits most from PPC?
While PPIs have been utilised for both clinical and non-clinical populations,
however, in the main, the majority of research has been conducted on the
“normal” or “non-clinical” population; whereas, despite some debate, EBC is
primarily for those in the “normal” population. This is based on the concern that
coaching someone (actively pushing towards a stretch goal) may be detrimental
to someone experiencing clinical depression or anxiety for example.
As such, we would argue that EBC, together with PPIs, are primarily used for
those without diagnosable clinical disorders. In a Model of Goal Striving and
Mental Health created by Grant (2007b), this would refer to the “distressed but
functional” or “acquiescent” quadrants (see Figure 1.2).
Based on our experience, we would suggest that it is rare that someone seeks
workplace coaching or health or wellbeing coaching if they are indeed flourishing
unless they want developmental coaching or coaching for excellence. However,
Grant and Spence (2010) in a chapter building on this model argued that for these
individuals, the focus of coaching may be around the quality rather than on the
quantity of their work performance.
For those in the “acquiescent” quadrant who are experiencing good mental
health but relatively low levels of intentional goal striving (happy but disengaged),
the opportunity lies in exploring values, strengths, and goals that may move them
towards the “flourishing” quadrant.
For those in the “languishing” –“distressed but functional” quadrant are indi -
viduals who may be highly engaged and experiencing high levels of meaningful
PPC: Science into practice 13
goal striving, however, often to the detriment of their own wellbeing. Grant and
Spence (2010) noted that there may be clinical or sub-clinical issues occurring
and this may present a challenge to those coaches without clinical training.
The developing PP2.0 (Wong, 2011) or second wave of positive psychology
(Lomas & Ivtzan, 2016; Sims, 2017) attempts to embrace both the positive and
the negative (or dark) sides of the human condition and experience. For example,
anxiety is usually perceived as a negative emotion. However, in a real life-
threatening situation, it is an emotion that can trigger a behavioural life-saving
response. If it can be life-saving, should it really be considered, from the
coachee’s perspective, as a negative emotion in all situations? Or is it the situa -
tion that is largely the negative component? Interestingly, often coachees report
that they have developed as a person through stress and adversity and become
more resilient. On the other hand, for many coachees, work-related performance
anxiety is undeniably considered as negative as it interferes with their behavioural
performance. This is an area that PPC can address using a range of techniques.
Palmer and Gyllensten (2008) highlighted how coaching could prevent mental
health conditions, enhance performance, and reduce work-related stress. Thus,
we advocate a more nuanced approach to discussing emotions with coachees. We
agree with Sims (2017) who asserted that PP2 can include coaching in spite of or
because of difficult emotions. Therefore, suitably qualified positive psychology
coaches may be able to assist coachees falling within the languishing domains
who are experiencing such emotions.
Finally, we acknowledge that PPIs and EBC can be offered at the level of the
individual, the group, the organisation, or the community, or at broader societal
14 Suzy Green and Stephen Palmer
High
Mental Illness
High
Mental Health
High Level of
Intentional
Goal Striving
Low Level of
Intentional
Goal Striving
Acquiescent
Major
psychopathology
Flourishing
Distressed
but functional
A
‘Normal’
Functioning
C
Languishing
B
D
Figure 1.2 Proposed Model of Goal Striving and Mental Health (republished with kind
permission of A. Grant)
levels. However, we note that PPC is currently primarily focused at the level of
the individual in a one-on-one coaching context and in such a way can be and has
been identified as PPI (Sin & Lyubomirsky, 2009). However, as noted earlier, we
would argue that in coming years, there will be a greater recognition and
associated uptake of the use of EBC as an “amplifier” of any PPI. For example,
for an individual wishing to implement a regular gratitude practice, the use of
EBC could enhance their success in achieving such a goal.
Discussion points
For those wanting to gain a greater understanding of PPC as an emerging field,
the following questions are posed:
1. Which PPIs are you already using in an EBC context?
2. What knowledge gaps do you have in regard to coaching psychology and
EBC, which might form ongoing professional development goals?
3. What knowledge gaps do you have in regard to positive psychology and
PPIs, which might form ongoing professional development goals?
4. What opportunities do you see to greater integrate your knowledge of
positive psychology into your EBC practice?
Suggested reading
Auerbach, J., & Foster, S.L. (2015). Positive psychology in coaching: Applying
science to executive and personal coaching perfect paperback (1st ed.). Arroyo
Grande, CA: Executive College Press.
Biswas-Diener, R. (2010). Practicing positive psychology coaching: Assessment,
diagnosis and intervention. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Biswas-Diener, R., & Dean, B. (2007). Positive psychology coaching: Putting the
science of happiness to work for your clients. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Driver, M. (2011). Coaching positively: Lessons for coaches from positive psychology.
Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.
Green, S., & Spence, G.B. (2014). Evidence-based coaching as a positive psychological
intervention. The Wiley Blackwell handbook of positive psychological interventions,
273–285.
References
Auerbach, J. (2014). Well-being coaching workbook: Everything needed for the
coaching participant paperback (1st ed.). Arroyo Grande, CA: Executive College
Press.
Auerbach, J., & Foster, S.L. (2015). Positive psychology in coaching: Applying
science to executive and personal coaching perfect paperback (1st ed.). Arroyo
Grande, CA: Executive College Press.
Biswas-Diener, R. (2010). Practicing positive psychology coaching: Assessment,
diagnosis and intervention. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
PPC: Science into practice 15
Biswas-Diener, R., & Dean, B. (2007). Positive psychology coaching: Putting the
science of happiness to work for your clients. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Bolier, L., Haverman, M., Westerhof, G.J., Riper, H., Smit, F., & Bohlmeijer, E.
(2013). Positive psychology interventions: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled
studies. BMC Public Health, 13(1), 119.
Cicchetti, D., & Garmezy, N. (1993). Prospects and promises in the study of
resilience. Development and Psychopathology, 5, 497–502.
Clough, P.J., Earle, K., & Sewell, D. (2002). Mental toughness: The concept and its
measurement. In I. Cockerill (Ed.), Solutions in sport psychology (pp. 32–43).
London: Thomson.
Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of
intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist,
55(1), 68.
Driver, M. (2011). Coaching positively: Lessons for coaches from positive psychology.
Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.
Duckworth, A.L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M.D., & Kelly, D.R. (2007). Grit:
Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 92(6), 1087–1101.
Gable, S.L., & Haidt, J. (2005). What (and why) is positive psychology? Review of
General Psychology, 9, 103–110.
Gartland, D., Bond, L., Olsson, C.A., Buzwell, S., & Sawyer, S.M. (2011).
Development of a multi-dimensional measure of resilience in adolescents: The
Adolescent Resilience Questionnaire. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 11,
134.
Grant, A.M. (2001). Towards a psychology of coaching: The impact of coaching on
metacognition, mental health and goal attainment. Unpublished doctoral thesis.
Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Available at: http://files.eric.ed.gov/
fulltext/ED478147.pdf.
Grant, A.M. (2007a). Past, present and future: The evolution of professional coaching
and coaching psychology. In S. Palmer & A. Whybrow (Eds.), Handbook of
coaching psychology: A guide for practitioners (pp. 23–39). Hove, UK: Routledge.
Grant, A.M. (2007b). A model of goal striving and mental health for coaching
populations. International Coaching Psychology Review, 2(3), 248–262.
Grant, A.M. (2017). Solution-focused cognitive–behavioral coaching for sustainable
high performance and circumventing stress, fatigue, and burnout. Consulting
Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 69(2), 98–111.
Grant, A.M., & Cavanagh, M.J. (2011). Coaching and positive psychology. In K.M.
Sheldon, T.B. Kashdan, & M.F. Steger (Eds.), Designing positive psychology:
Taking stock and moving forward (pp. 293–309). New York: Oxford University
Press.
Grant, A.M., & Palmer, S. (2002). Coaching psychology workshop. Annual Conference
of the Counselling Psychology Division of the British Psychological Society,
Torquay, 18 May.
Grant, A.M., & Spence, G.B. (2010). Using coaching and positive psychology to
promote a flourishing workforce: A model of goal-striving and mental health.
In P.A. Linley, S. Harrington, & N. Page (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive
psychology and work (pp. 175–188). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
16 Suzy Green and Stephen Palmer
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(Eds.), Evidence based coaching handbook: Putting best practices to work for your
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Green, L., Oades, L., & Grant, A. (2006). Cognitive-behavioral, solution-focused life
coaching: Enhancing goal striving, well-being, and hope. The Journal of Positive
Psychology: Dedicated to Furthering Research and Promoting Good Practice,
1(3), 142–149.
Green, L., Palmer, S., & Boniwell, I. (2016). Conference presentation. European
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R. Gilman, & E.S. Huebner (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology in schools
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18 Suzy Green and Stephen Palmer
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20 Suzy Green and Stephen Palmer
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Preface
Green, L.S. (2014). Positive education: An Australian
perspective. In P.A. Alexander, M.J. Furlong, R. Gilman, &
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psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1),
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S.L., Benishek, L.E., & Salas, E. (2015). The power of
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1 Positive psychology coaching: Science
into practice
Auerbach, J. (2014). Well-being coaching workbook:
Everything needed for the coaching participant paperback
(1st ed.). Arroyo Grande, CA: Executive College Press.
Auerbach, J., & Foster, S.L. (2015). Positive psychology in
coaching: Applying science to executive and personal
coaching perfect paperback (1st ed.). Arroyo Grande, CA:
Executive College Press.
Biswas-Diener, R. (2010). Practicing positive psychology
coaching: Assessment, diagnosis and intervention. New York:
John Wiley & Sons. Biswas-Diener, R., & Dean, B. (2007).
Positive psychology coaching: Putting the science of
happiness to work for your clients. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley
& Sons. Bolier, L., Haverman, M., Westerhof, G.J., Riper,
H., Smit, F., & Bohlmeijer, E. (2013). Positive psychology
interventions: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled
studies. BMC Public Health, 13(1), 119. Cicchetti, D., &
Garmezy, N. (1993). Prospects and promises in the study of
resilience. Development and Psychopathology, 5, 497–502.
Clough, P.J., Earle, K., & Sewell, D. (2002). Mental
toughness: The concept and its measurement. In I. Cockerill
(Ed.), Solutions in sport psychology (pp. 32–43). London:
Thomson. Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M. (2000).
Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic
motivation, social development, and well-being. American
Psychologist, 55(1), 68. Driver, M. (2011). Coaching
positively: Lessons for coaches from positive psychology.
Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press. Duckworth, A.L.,
Peterson, C., Matthews, M.D., & Kelly, D.R. (2007). Grit:
Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087–1101. Gable,
S.L., & Haidt, J. (2005). What (and why) is positive
psychology? Review of General Psychology, 9, 103–110.
Gartland, D., Bond, L., Olsson, C.A., Buzwell, S., &
Sawyer, S.M. (2011). Development of a multi-dimensional
measure of resilience in adolescents: The Adolescent
Resilience Questionnaire. BMC Medical Research Methodology,
11, 134. Grant, A.M. (2001). Towards a psychology of
coaching: The impact of coaching on metacognition, mental
health and goal attainment. Unpublished doctoral thesis.
Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Available at:
http://files.eric.ed.gov/ fulltext/ED478147.pdf. Grant, A.M.
(2007a). Past, present and future: The evolution of
professional coaching and coaching psychology. In S. Palmer
& A. Whybrow (Eds.), Handbook of coaching psychology: A
guide for practitioners (pp. 23–39). Hove, UK: Routledge.
Grant, A.M. (2007b). A model of goal striving and mental
health for coaching populations. International Coaching
Psychology Review, 2(3), 248–262. Grant, A.M. (2017).
Solution-focused cognitive–behavioral coaching for
sustainable high performance and circumventing stress,
fatigue, and burnout. Consulting Psychology Journal:
Practice and Research, 69(2), 98–111. Grant, A.M., &
Cavanagh, M.J. (2011). Coaching and positive psychology. In
K.M. Sheldon, T.B. Kashdan, & M.F. Steger (Eds.), Designing
positive psychology: Taking stock and moving forward (pp.
293–309). New York: Oxford University Press. Grant, A.M., &
Palmer, S. (2002). Coaching psychology workshop. Annual
Conference of the Counselling Psychology Division of the
British Psychological Society, Torquay, 18 May. Grant,
A.M., & Spence, G.B. (2010). Using coaching and positive
psychology to promote a flourishing workforce: A model of
goal-striving and mental health. In P.A. Linley, S.
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psychology and work (pp. 175–188). Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
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(pp. 17–50). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Green, L., Oades, L., & Grant, A. (2006).
Cognitive-behavioral, solution-focused life coaching:
Enhancing goal striving, well-being, and hope. The Journal
of Positive Psychology: Dedicated to Furthering Research
and Promoting Good Practice, 1(3), 142–149.
Green, L., Palmer, S., & Boniwell, I. (2016). Conference
presentation. European Conference of Positive Psychology,
Angers, 28 June to 1 July.
Green, L.S. (2014). Positive education: An Australian
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