Coaching MCL

Services de coaching professionnel avec Michel C. Lavoie, PCC

Coaching and Positive Psychology

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Positive Psychology: A breath of fresh air…

Carol Kauffman is an Assistant Clinical Professor and Co-Founder and Director of the Coaching and Positive Psychology Initiative at Harvard Medical School.  Ms. Kauffman elaborated upon some highlights of Positive Psychology in a dynamic presentation made to coaches attending the Montreal ICF conference last November in Montreal. Dr. Kauffman spoke of Positive Psychology as ‘the science at the heart of coaching.’

Known as the scientific study of happiness, Positive Psychology is an emerging field. The movement was founded some years ago by Martin Seligman, a past president of the powerful American Psychological Association. The goal of Positive Psychology is to identify and maximize the use of an individual’s positive psychological traits rather than improving or correcting any negative flaws. Positive Psychology speaks of mental health rather than mental illness. Whereas the traditional psychological paradigm focused on pathology, victimology and mental illness, Seligman’s contribution (some call it a revolution) was to begin to identify characteristics and strategies of individuals with positive outlooks.

Seligman affirmed a person’s power of choice and capacity to make positive decisions in life. Not only did he manage to open up Psychology to new possibilities, more importantly, he based his findings firmly on the basis of scientific research. By doing so, he challenged the establishment and created a whole new way of understanding people. He literally changed the way many people view Psychology. Seligman’s questions:

    Can there be a psychological science that is about the best things in life?
    Can there be a classification of the strengths and virtues that make life worth living?
    Can parents and teachers use this science to raise strong, resilient children ready to take their place in a world in which more opportunities for fulfillment are available?
    Can adults teach themselves better ways to happiness and fulfillment? (Authentic Happiness, p. 29).

His answer to all these questions was a resounding, yes!

The relevance of this emerging science to professional Coaching is obvious.  Positive Psychology provides a robust theoretical and empirical base for the practice of life and executive coaching. The goal of any coach is to help people become aware of and live out their full potential. Not only can such a body of knowledge supply a scientific underpinning, but it provides a much needed methodology and knowledge coaches can use to help individuals and to inspire them to focus on their strengths, thus living out their potential. By integrating and applying the principles and the teachings of Positive Psychology in their practices, coaches can better motivate, manage and empower their clients to set and meet their personal goals and to live happier and more fulfilling lives.

One of the main approaches consists of assessing, developing and utilizing clients’ individual character strengths. As attention is shifted away from pathology and pain (the traditional medical model focused mostly on pathology) and directed to the strengths, vision and dreams of the individual, the coach can then work with his clients to find out what ‘energizes and pulls people forward rather than what causes and drives pain and failure’. The choice then is to ‘follow this trail of dreams’ during the whole coaching process.

For the coaches wanting to learn more about this fascinating area of research and who wish to develop practical skills and insight on the subject of Positive Psychology, a good place to begin is Martin E.P. Seligman’s best-selling book ‘Authentic Happiness.’ (ISBN 0-7432-2297-0).

Written by Michel

April 7th, 2009 at 2:37 pm

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