How Positive Psychology Took My Health Coaching Game to the Next Level

I joined holistic nutrition, like many others before me, to solve my own problems with chronic allergies, stomach upset, anxiety, and other related issues. After completing a nutrition certification, I spent many years as a coach. 

My overall health improved tremendously during this time. I was still interested in integrative health and wanted to learn more so I could share my knowledge with my clients. My curiosity led me to positive psychology, and to WBI certification in Wholebeing Positive Psychology and Positive Psychology Coaching. 

While traditional therapy focuses on looking at a client’s life through the lens of the rearview mirror, a Positive Psychology Coach looks forward, towards the client’s potential and goals. How is this applicable to coaches supporting their clients’ health and wellness? Here’s how the field taught me how to take my health coaching—as well as my own health—to the next level. 

 

Coaching Approach

Positive psychology teaches us that we can be whole, resilient, and capable to create our own path towards achieving our goals. Coaches are encouraged to ask the right powerful questions, develop good listening skills, and use a solutions (not problem-focused) approach to achieving these goals. Coaches learn to help clients explore their motivations and values. They also learn from the lessons of the past. Coaches help build confidence around a client’s developing skills, and help them to achieve the changes they are seeking. 

Coaching questions I might ask:

  • At what point in your life did you feel the best—in mind, body, spirit—and what were you doing at that time to feel this way?
  • What would your life look if you had a magic wand that could bring all of your dreams to reality?
  • What would you do every day if you could just move 2% towards being more mindful, curious, and resilient?

 

Introduction to Valuable Research

Over the past decade, positive psychology research and interest has increased tremendously. Many concepts remain a solid foundation to the coaching process. A positive psychology approach is primarily future focused, with an emphasis on helping a client define and choose to develop their “best possible self.” WBI’s SPIRE model of integrative health offers a guide to achieving a whole-picture view of current and aspirational selves by honing in on how we are doing in the Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Relational, and Emotional aspects of life. Another important concept, introduced by Stanford professor Carol Dweck, revolves around a focus on developing a growth mindset—the belief that talents, abilities and intelligence can be developed through hard work and good strategies at any point in life. The emphasis is on perspective and choice, or improving our personal lenses in life.

 

Coaching questions I might ask:

  • Imagine yourself 10 years from now. You have achieved your goals and everything has gone as planned. What are you doing now? What is the best thing about your life?
  • Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 on the SPIRE scale, with 1 being “not at all,” and 10 being “most of the time.” Let’s discuss our findings. 
  • Think about a recent challenge you were faced with at work or personally. In what ways did you adopt a fixed mindset and in what ways did you experience a growth mindset?

 

Tools and exercises

I was able to find many tools and exercises to help clients reach their goals. One such tool my clients complete is the Values in Action (VIA) Character Strength survey. Clients as whole and capable allows for the exploration of what is unique about them. Strengths such as curiosity, creativity, teamwork, perseverance, and hope are often engaged to help a client succeed. One of my favorite strategies is “strength spotting,” noticing what strength is being engaged and how it is helping in a certain situation. Another strategy is to look at the ways that a client might increase positive emotions. For example, listening to uplifting music or podcasts, going for a walk in the countryside, learning a new skill, or visiting a friend. Another strategy that I love is to focus on the quality of our relationships. Expressing gratitude and appreciation to someone who is special or has helped you recently can be a powerful way to strengthen a relationship. 

 

Coaching questions I might ask:

  • Name your top five character strengths, based on the VIA Survey. Which strength was particularly strong in the past week?
  • What activities bring you joy each week? What can you do to make these activities more enjoyable? 
  • Would you be willing to write one “gratitude text” each day this week to someone whom you appreciate or love?

 

As I began integrating these concepts into my coaching engagements and presentations, I noticed an increase in confidence in myself and my skills—I had so much more to share when speaking with individuals, groups, organization, and corporations. Positive psychology tools and strategies can make your life easier and more rewarding. 

Learn more about WBI’s Positive Psychology Coaching Certification program.

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