What is Positive Psychology Coaching? Are You Missing Out?

What is Positive Psychology Coaching? Are You Missing Out?

What is Positive Psychology Coaching? Are You Missing Out?

Positive psychology coaching is an evidence-based coaching practice for the enhancement of wellbeing, achievement and resilience, which can help you achieve your personal and professional goals for happiness and success.


Source: Frontiers

Positive psychology coaching is a strengths-based approach.

The aim of coaching, generally, is to unlock a person's potential in order to maximise their performance (Whitmore, 2010). But this does mean different things in different contexts.

In the area of leadership and self-development, coaching is quite different from what you might expect. It's not about telling people what to do. It's not about getting people all hyped up. And it's not about therapy or counseling.

Instead, it's a set of conversations where the coach uses tools such as questioning, observation and feedback to help a client discover for themselves their most important goals and ways of achieving them. We don't focus on what is wrong, we focus on what is possible.

Putting this into context, there are four kinds of problems we all need to solve in our everyday work and personal lives (Snowden & Boone, 2007):

  • SIMPLE PROBLEMS are problems that require little thought in order to solve. For example, if you are running out of petrol, take your car to a petrol station.
  • COMPLICATED PROBLEMS are problems that require a level of expertise and analysis in order to solve. So, for example, if your car breaks down, the mechanic may need to run several diagnostics in order to come up with a solution.
  • COMPLEX PROBLEMS are problems where you don't really know what's going to work in advance. A level of experimentation is required.
  • CHAOTIC PROBLEMS are problems where there is just too much randomness to make accurate predictions. These are situations like 9/11 where the best course of action is to try to restore order.

As it turns out, Most problems that we find challenging at home and in the workplace - are COMPLEX in nature. Things such as dealing with stress, staying motivated, dealing with difficult people, and creating a positive workplace culture. All of these things we don't know exactly what's going to work in advance - a level of safe-to-fail experimentation is required.

And this is what coaching provides - dedicated time and scaffolding for navigating complex problems.

In coaching sessions we help you explore an inspirational vision for your future, help you explore your current reality (what is and isn't working for you at this point in time), help facilitate the process of generating options, and help you chart a way forward:


Remember however, this is an iterative process, figuring out what works best for you, through doing.

The field of Positive Psychology augments this process further, by drawing on scientific research about what's generally been shown to work well in dealing with specific issues. It doesn't guarantee a solution, but it does help us generate options worth considering.


Snowden, D. J., & Boone, M. E. (2007). A leader's framework for decision making. Harvard business review85(11), 68.

Whitmore, J. (2010). Coaching for performance: growing human potential and purpose: the principles and practice of coaching and leadership. Hachette UK.

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Dr Scott Bolland

Leadership Expert

Dr Scott Bolland is an executive coach, international speaker, facilitator and futurist. His PhD and background (of 25 years) are in the area of Cognitive Science - the scientific study of how the mind works, spanning areas such as psychology, neuroscience, philosophy and artificial intelligence. His passion is playing in the intersection between these areas, in particular how to best prepare individuals, teams, schools and organisations to flourish in the digital age.

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