Research Paper By Moira Spence
(Leadership and Management Coach & Transition Coach, ITALY)
Positive Psychology has played an important part in shaping transformational changes in my life and in the lives of friends and clients. I’m passionate about its value and see that it offers a wealth of resources for coaching practice. In fact I believe that the insights from Positive Psychology are fundamental to every coaching process which is committed to clients achieving fulfilling and satisfying lives.
Understanding and implementing aspects of Positive Psychology within coaching practice offers the possibility of enhancing and enriching clients lives from the short to the long term. Clients who have been coached with a Positive Psychology perspective leave coaching with an increased capacity to engage fully in and appreciate their lives. It also creates a capacity for more resilience for the future. This sustainability allows clients to be truly transformed.
What is Positive Psychology?
While Positive Psychology is an emerging concept, many aspects of it have been studied for over 30 years or so. It was brought together and named as an entity when Martin Seligman took on the Presidency of the American Psychology Association in 1997. Seligman had spent 15 years of his early professional life studying Learned Helplessness. A phenomenon which describes what happens to animals (including people) when they are subjected to adversity that they can’t control. Initially the focus of the research was on the conditions and characteristics that induced the helplessness. As Seligman says, psychological research was studying what was wrong with people. It was only latterly that the research moved to study and understand what was happening for the people who did not become helpless whatever adversity they faced. This brought Seligman to shift the focus of his research to studying the people who do well in adverse situation and to identifying what it is they do and have that allows them to move forward positively. From the beginning Positive Psychology has been developed as an applied subject, the outcome of research has always been focused on what can be learned and taught to others so that others can move forward positively too.