Positive Psychology Coaching with Strengths

When you use Positive Psychology Coaching with Strengths you are doubling up on the positive benefits.

Many people will have experienced coaching, management feedback or criticism about their “weaknesses”. At one time this was the most common way of working with development particularly in the workplace. How was it for you when the focus was on weakness?

Gradual shifts away from this approach have included reframing weaknesses to development areas but still focused on what was wrong rather than what was right. While it is important to acknowledge that sometimes there is a benefit in using this approach it may not be particularly motivational.

If you think about this from another perspective this focus could very easily result in feelings of low self-worth and maybe even hopelessness if making changes feels too difficult. It certainly does not promote well-being.

This is where developments in Positive Psychology come in with the idea of focusing on Strengths instead. There are several aspects to this approach that are helpful from a well-being point of view.

Firstly, focusing on your Strengths will probably make you feel good. Identifying how you already make a difference in a positive way is uplifting.

Secondly, you can look at ways of using your Strengths even more. This will be easy because your Strengths come naturally to you. As a result your sense of subjective well-being will be increased and you may even have a boost in self-efficacy. All of this helps you access the best version of you!

Thirdly, you can explore how applying your Strengths in new contexts can be helpful. This will include contexts that have been a problem and where you may have perceived weakness. Applying your Strengths may mean you find ways of resolving issues that you had not considered before.

This is where a good Coach can help you first identify your Strengths and then explore them. You can be Coached to identify new ways of applying your Strengths. And of course many of you reading this will be Coaches or would like to become a Coach, are you using your Strengths in Coaching others?

There are two main ways to identify your Strengths. The first is to take a psychometric, there are several available including two we look at as part of my Positive Psychology Coaching modules. The second is to uncover them for yourself with the guidance of a Coach.

There are benefits to both approaches and which you use may depend on the client. Some clients get a lot of value from completing a questionnaire, others prefer to find out for themselves. You can easily combine the two approaches to deepen the learning.

Are you already using Strengths approaches? What has been the most useful aspect for you?

Where does Wisdom fit in Positive Psychology Coaching?

Cloud gazing by the pond

Knowing where Wisdom fits in Positive Psychology Coaching may be Wisdom in itself!

I wanted to talk to you about Wisdom for many reasons:

  1. Wisdom is not always recognised and valued. I’d like to change that.
  2. Wisdom is often associated with aging yet we don’t always value people as they age. I’d like to change that.
  3. I am curious about how you can develop Wisdom.
  4. I am also curious about how some people seem to be born with Wisdom.

How about you, have you ever wondered about Wisdom?

Maybe it would help to start by sharing some definitions on Wisdom. And here we run into a problem. The literature on this subject varies and the only thing agreed upon is that Wisdom is hard to define and there are also Cultural aspects to how we view it. The definitions fall under three broad categories:

  1. As a stage of human development.
  2. As an example of advanced thinking abilities.
  3. As an expanded form of intelligence.

None of these definition categories really hit the mark for me, what do you think?

Have you ever met someone and thought them “wise beyond their years”? What does that mean to you?

Understanding and recognising wisdom may need to be something more personal. It is certainly more than knowledge, thinking and logic. Wisdom may be the ability to apply learning, knowledge and experience to life by making “good” choices and decisions but is that all?

One form of wisdom that many people report is a change in how you relate to others as you get older. You may notice that you make changes in the people you spend time with. It has been suggested that many people start to prioritise who they spend time with and let go of fears of upsetting others. You are more likely to want to spend time with people that enrich your life and let go of people who drain you. Has that happened to you?

You may also become more accepting of yourself as your wisdom grows and extend this acceptance to others. You may give up the need for anyone to change.


Bringing Wisdom into your Coaching Practice

I love the fact that one of the best definitions of Wisdom I have found is ancient and comes from Confucius:

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

As a Coach you will encourage your clients to reflect on experiences in order to learn. As a professional Coach you will probably keep a reflective diary to help you learn and gain more wisdom. You will spend time reflecting with your Supervisor deepening this reflection.

If you do not already keep a reflective diary start one today. The easiest way to do this is to reflect on three questions directly after each coaching session.

  1. What went well?
  2. What could I have done differently?
  3. What did I learn?

Remember the reflective diary is about you rather than the client, the diary allows you to focus on your own development and is a form of self-supervision.

Imitation is also present in Coaching. You will model or imitate the Coaching practice of others to keep your coaching skills fresh and developing. This may happen as a result of attending a training course, watching a demonstration or even reading a book. As you reflect on your imitation you will internalise it and by an innate process of wisdom adapt what you imitate to your own style.

You may encourage your clients to identify role models for their development. Thus you bring imitation to your Coaching practice too.

For those who find the concept of imitating uncomfortable remember as a child you will have imitated those around you in order to learn to speak, walk and know how to be part of a family or community. This is one of the most natural ways to learn.

The bitterest learning according to Confucius comes from experience. As a Coach you will expand your knowledge and skill by experience and yet the most wisdom often comes from sessions that didn’t go well. This I think is what Confucius meant when he said it was the bitterest. When we reflect on an experience that was challenging we have the opportunity to understand how we could have done things differently. Wisdom involves allowing yourself permission to accept what happened and learn from it.


As you work with your Clients you will often be helping them reflect and learn from their experiences too.


Studying Wisdom with Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology explores the concept of Wisdom in many ways and perhaps the most structured comes from the Strengths work of Peterson and Seligman.

Wisdom is one of the “Virtues” of the VIA model and includes the Character Strengths of Creativity, Curiosity, Judgement, Love of Learning and Perspective. This is something we actively explore during the Association for Coaching Diploma modules I teach on Positive Psychology.

According to this model Wisdom is something we all have to varying degrees. This is based on the Character Strengths listed above and how easily you can access or express them.

It could be argued that if Wisdom is really a stage in development we would all access the Character Strengths of Wisdom as we develop. This does not really play out in the model.

I am curious to know what you think about Wisdom and how it develops. Is it something that naturally develops? Do some people have it (like a Strength/Virtue) and some people don’t? Is Wisdom really about age and life experience?

For me there are more questions than answers, what about you?

Positive Psychology Coaching: Savouring the moment

In this first full blog on Positive Psychology Coaching I want to focus on Savouring the moment.

How often do you truly stay present and savour the moment?

As a Coach being “present” with our clients is a key skill but is this the same as savouring the moment?

I would argue that although similar these two experiences are not the same. As a Coach giving yourself the gift of savouring will help you to build and maintain your resilience. It will do the same for your clients when you encourage them to take time to savour.

In preparing to write this piece I decided to consciously take twenty minutes to savour. I wanted to have a fresh experience to share with you.

I took myself and my five dogs into the garden. I sat on a bench and allowed the dogs to do what they wanted.

I started by watching my dogs play noticing how they naturally savour life. Playing and running and jumping. When the mood took them they stopped to sniff or lay in the sunshine. I was savouring this experience using my eyes and ears. When I let go of “noticing” I truly savoured the experience of being with my dogs.

My awareness expanded and I listened to the wind in the trees, the birds singing and the distant hum of traffic. I looked at the trees, I closed my eyes and felt the interplay of the chill breeze and the warm sun on my face.

My internal dialogue was quiet, my mind didn’t wander to other topics. It was still because I was experiencing my senses.

All too often we can be in an experience but thinking of other things, sometimes life’s worries or just want to have for dinner. Our way of living creates the busy mind, distraction and a sense of preparing constantly for the future.

Using your senses to savour an experience helps you to stay present without any need to achieve anything. It allows your neurology to settle, stress levels to drop, you remember to breathe fully. All of this is good for your well-being.

Although you may not feel it is realistic to live every moment savouring making sure you give yourself the gift of regular savouring moments will boost your well-being and health.

As a Coach you need to walk your talk. If you want to help your clients learn to savour make sure you are able to offer real examples of how you take time out to savour life. With that in mind I have a challenge for you.

When was the last time you savoured a meal?

My challenge for you this week is to eat a meal and savour it. You may need to eat alone or if you have someone who would like to join you in savouring eat together. Notice what happens when you let go of conversation and savour each bite. You may be surprised how much flavour you experience and how much slower you eat.

Let me know your experiences. What happened for you?

What is Positive Psychology Coaching?

People often ask what is Positive Psychology Coaching and how is it different to other approaches?

The answer is both simple and complicated. In one sense all Coaching is to some extent Positive Psychology. Most Coaches agree that Coaching is future focused and about outcomes rather than delving into causes from emotional and psychological baggage. Positive Psychology in many cases (but not all) also focuses on the future and outcomes.

The more complicated answer is that Positive Psychology is a growing field and the number of topics, branches and approaches is also growing. I studied on the first Positive Psychology Masters Degree in Europe back in 2007. In two years we covered a lot of topics!

Here are some examples:

  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Strengths
  • Growth Mindsets
  • Optimism
  • Wisdom
  • Gratitude
  • Resilience
  • Well-being
  • Mindfulness
  • Hope
  • Relationships
  • Self-efficacy
  • Flourishing

    Finding your inner sure of well being
  • Happiness
  • Meaning and meaningful life

Over the next few months I will share some specific elements of Positive Psychology with you and how you can use it in Coaching. If you have any favourite topics do let me know and I will do my best to include them in this series.

If you want to read more today here is an old blog I wrote looking at Positive Psychology for self-care

Become a Coaching Supervisor

If you are an experienced Coach you may be ready to consider becoming a Coaching Supervisor.

Each year I take a small select group of people through my Accredited Supervisor Diploma. This will allow you to step up to the next level.


You will get so much from this Certification including

  • a new way to make a difference, enlarging your personal ripple effect.
  • learn new skills that will help your clients develop.
  • grow your business and bring in a new income stream.
  • and experience personal transformation and challenge.

To find out if you are eligible contact me direct for a chat to find out more. Click here to connect


Why Coaches take on cases beyond their training

Why Coaches take on cases beyond their training

Coaches take on cases beyond their training for a number of reasons and one way of exploring this is with mini-script as discussed in my last blog about a client case study.

In my Supervision Groups I often work with Coaches who have fallen into the trap of taking on too much. When I say too much I mean a number of things:

  • Perhaps taking on clients when you don’t have the time, energy or emotional space for your practice.
  • Taking on clients that present with “red flags” (we will talk about that another day)
  • Taking on clients with issues outside your “scope” because you “feel” the client needs help now.

NB: Your Scope is the type of client that is a good fit for your experience, level of training or speciality areas. It can also be about niche or interest areas too.

It is the last example I want to talk to you about today as it is so very common. It comes from a place of kindness and compassion. Even so, it is likely driven by unhealthy internal patterns. When you take on a client you are not equipped to deal with you may do more harm than good.

You are a Coach because you want to make a difference, you want to help people and you may even feel that Coaching is your life purpose.

These are good reasons to be a Coach and you will bring some amazing qualities to your practice. You will also risk stepping into the trap of taking on a client because you don’t want to let them down.

As you become more Self-aware you will be able to manage this impulse in healthier ways and remember the golden rule:

If you are not sure about something as a Coach take it to Supervision.

Here is one possible psychological explanation why you may feel prompted to take on something that perhaps you shouldn’t. I am drawing once again on Transactional Analysis and in particular the Mini-script.

This Case study is a summary of many examples from my Supervision Groups.

The Coach is running a Please People (or Please Others) Driver Mini script. This plays out around being good enough.

I am Okay if I please enough

You are Okay if you please enough

The mini-script will get triggered when you are faced with turning someone away who needs help because they need tools you do not have. For example, this could be people with deeper therapy issues or trauma.

Remember these triggers happen out of awareness unless you have found a way to monitor your unconscious responses. I am going to repeat myself,

if in doubt take it to supervision.


If the response or trigger is unconscious you may start to feel “not good enough” if you turn the client away. This may lead to you taking on something you may not be equipped to deal with.

There may be internal scripting about self-blame for turning the client away or self-blame if the Coaching is not going well. The self-blame may at some point switch to blaming someone else, maybe other coaches/therapists who didn’t help or even the client.

Finally there may be a sense of despair and helplessness.

This script may cycle round constantly while working with the client.


If in doubt take it to supervision.

Self-awareness is key to stepping out of such destructive cycles. Learning about your own triggers and processes makes it easier for you to spot when an unconscious unhealthy script is running. Recognition allows you to make different choices and seek support for yourself if necessary.

Eventually the script will lose its potency and a new healthier script can replace it.

So, to summarise, if you feel drawn to help someone when another part of you knows you do not have the appropriate tools and/or experience for the presenting problem take a step back.

Ask yourself some questions:

  • Am I the right person to help this client?
  • If not, do I have someone in my network who could be able to help? (I will write about how to refer professionally in another blog soon).
  • If I don’t have anyone to refer on to what other resources can I point the client to? (start collecting contact details of specialist organisations who could help).
  • Reflect on your own reactions and triggers. If you are feeling reactive or confused take it to supervision.
  • If in doubt take it to supervision.

If you are a Coach and do not have a Supervisor do consider finding one. Being in Supervision is the mark of a professional and ethical Coach. Even experienced Coaches with many years of experience will have a Supervisor. In your early career you will access Supervision regularly. As you get more experienced you may reduce the frequency however you will still make sure you have this important resource as a back up.

If you do not have a Supervisor I am happy to talk to you about options so do reach out.

Transactional Analysis: Coaching Case Study 2

For those of you who are Coaches or want to become a Coach here is my second Transactional Analysis: Coaching Case Study 2.

As you work regularly with your Client using Transactional Analysis (TA) there will be a build up of shared models and knowledge. This will allow you to use a number of models together to build some richness.

Your Client will begin to have more and more “a ha” moments as insight leads to transformation.

The Case Study

It makes sense to carry on using the example of the Client I wrote about last time. As I mentioned previously there are so many examples I could choose but by sticking with this one we have some continuity.

My Client started her journey by learning about Working Styles and Drivers. Last time I discussed how we identified a Be Perfect Driver that kept showing up when she was managing her team. As a result she was micro-managing and feeling that no one was “good enough”.

She also reported back about those times when she realised she had made a mistake or got something wrong. She felt as if she were “not good enough” and would often become very defensive.

She realised that she felt like she was not perfect enough.

Warning everyone! Might start sounding like a psychologist!

The feelings of not being good enough or perfect enough were likely to have come from early childhood. The projections of other people not being good enough would have resulted from the same source.

If you are uncovering patterns from childhood these tend to come from the client’s family of origin.

Quick time out! Where is the line between therapy and coaching? You may even have been wondering that as you read the comments above.

As a Coach it is important that you use the following models lightly and if something that is deeply triggering is uncovered you may need to refer your client on if you do not have therapeutic training yourself to help them ethically and safely. Always err on the side of caution. If you are not sure seek support from your Supervisor straight away. It is too tempting to forge ahead because you want to help. (I will write a blog later in this series about why so many coaches fall into this trap).

In most cases if you hold the models lightly and avoid digging into childhood memories you can work with these models in Coaching.

The models I used at this point with my Client were Working Styles and Drivers, adding in the “OK” Corral and Mini-script.

This helped us to explore what was behind her repeating patterns of behaviour. In this case she had a Be Perfect Driver running her mini-script. The mini-script before it is triggered has the Client in a state of only feeling “good enough” if she and others around her could maintain the appearance of Perfection.

I say appearance because it could be argued that perfection does not exist or if it does it is so subjective as to be meaningless. (my opinion so might not be true).

In terms of the Okay Corral or Windows on the World model she was maintaining:


“I’m Okay if I am Perfect enough”

“You are Okay, if you are Perfect enough”

The mini-script takes the client on a roller coaster ride of not feeling good enough, feeling others are not good enough and often leads to feelings of despair. This roller coaster can run it’s course very quickly but leaves behind negative feelings. There is a return to the precarious starting point until the mini-script is triggered again.

Self-awareness is the first step in helping the Client make changes and as a Coach you can help the Client develop strategies for recognising their own triggers.

Once triggers have been identified work can begin on finding ways to interrupt the pattern through a mixture of insight and bringing in other approaches providing practical steps to interrupt the pattern.

In a short blog like this it is not possible to fully unpack the models for you and demonstrations often makes a big difference with this work.

If you would like a good book to start your own research I recommend Julie Hay’s “Working it out at Work” book. This is a great starter book for Coaches.

I offer my Transactional Analysis for Coaches workshop every 8 months, the next one is this month, 28th to 29th March. This can be a great way to learn the models and see them in action. Contact me if you want to find out more.

Next time I will write about why so many Coaches take on Client issues beyond their experience.

Transactional Analysis: Personality as a form of Diversity (Coaching Case Study)

When you recognises personality as a form of diversity you realise how important self-awareness is. The Transactional Analysis (TA) model Drivers, also known as Working Styles provides a powerful way to help your clients understand how difference is just difference.

What I like about this TA model is how easy it is for clients to remember as the labels do what is says on the tin”; Be Perfect, Hurry Up, Please People (Others), Try Hard and Be Strong.

Everyone has a mix of all five but you will have some you use more than others and perhaps in particular contexts. The risk with these kind of difference models is where a lack of self-awareness may cause you to end up thinking your way is the only reasonable way and that others are wrong.

The Case Study

I could pick so many examples for this case study as it is so common. Here is just one.

My client was a manager in a large company and in her role she seemed to be applying her Be Perfect much of time. She complained that her staff did not operate to her standard on tasks and that she was constantly having to re-do their work. She liked to use a red pen!

As we delved into her management style it became apparent that she was using a micromanagement approach. She would not trust her team to produce results.

She came to realise she was disempowering her team. We explored the possible profiles of her team and realised some shared her profile and some were different. The people who shared her profile were often the people she trusted the most but she had noticed a level of tension in her discussions even with them.

The people that differed approached work from a different angle. My client would constantly question their approaches even though they usually delivered the results required. My client found that she had to do a reality check on standards and what was good enough.

As she learnt to take a step back her team stepped forward. She discovered that they all had the ability to do a good job. Some got the results in a way she would not have used but they still got results. When she backed off from the people who shared her profile they often did the work in the manner she would have.

My Client, the manager discovered that as she became more self-aware she could better judge if she needed to give feedback or if it was just her “driver” being triggered. Managing in a more self-aware fashion was less stressful for her and resulted in a motivated team.

There is more detail to this case study than I have time to write here but I hope you get the idea. I love this model because clients do understand it quite quickly and can soon apply their learning both at work and at home.

What is Transactional Analysis Coaching? 1 Key piece of information for your coaching practice.

Image of Melody Cheal.  Master Trainer of Transactional Analysis CoachingIf you want to become a Coach learning Transactional Analysis Coaching is a great place to start. For more experienced Coaches if you haven’t got the amazing tools this approach offers you are in for a treat.

Defining Transactional Analysis

Let me start by defining Transactional Analysis. Transactional Analysis (TA) is made up of theories and techniques designed to help you understand human behaviour. In addition, you learn through a mixture of self-awareness and strategies how to change unhelpful patterns and behaviours. The goal of TA, if there is one, is to help you move towards “autonomy”.

Okay, yes TA does like jargon! Autonomy is being able to live in the present without being triggered by your “emotional baggage”. The straightforward definition is you get to have a happier more satisfying life that is probably a lot more peaceful too.

Originally this approach was developed by Eric Berne specifically in the therapy world. The applications developed into four fields; psychotherapy, counselling, education and organisational.

Transactional Analysis Coaching

In more recent years TA has become a key tool in Coaching and sits somewhere between the educational and organisational fields.

Transactional Analysis Coaching has a basic underlying principle of equality. So while it is possible to use TA to inform your Coaching (e.g. you use it to understand what is happening for the client and yourself), if you are applying TA fully you share the models with your client.

This means that as you work with your client you listen out for clues that a TA model could be helpful. You would share the model with your client and then help them use the model to analyse their particular situation.

Over time you may share many models with your client. As your client becomes more “educated” in how the models work it will be possible to work with several models at once. For example, there are models about communication, personality type, repeating patterns and conflict.

Why I use Transactional Analysis Coaching with my clients

What I love about using TA with clients is how often my own learning deepens as a result of working with the client. The equality of the approach means that as a Coach you are working in partnership with your client rather than taking a position of authority.

Where can you learn Transactional Analysis Coaching COURSE OF WHICH Transactional Analysis Coaching IS A MODULECoaching?

I have been teaching TA on my Coaching Diploma for many years and it is often described as one of the most useful parts of the training. The great thing about the training is that I can teach it via Zoom allowing you to access it from your own home. From time to time I do offer it here in East Sussex too.

Over the next few weeks, I will share some case studies with you where TA was used to help the client. If you have any questions before then or want to have a chat about either experiencing Transactional Analysis Coaching as a Client or attending the training do contact me to arrange a free discovery call.

Woman with lots of great ideas floating around her - Why become a Coach?

Why become a Coach? 3 great reasons to consider it.

You may be thinking “Why become a Coach?” In this post, I’d like to give you a few ideas and tips to consider.

1 You might want to start by considering what has drawn you to the idea of being a Coach first.

2 Are you thinking of changing careers to become a full-time Coach?


3 Thinking about Coaching part-time while you work in another job?


Do you want to use Coaching skills in your normal day job?

Or do you have another motivation for thinking,  ‘Why become a Coach’?

Whatever your reason some benefits when you become a Coach fit any of the above. Coaching is a powerful way of helping others and making a real difference. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are doing something that is worthwhile. This will give you both job and life satisfaction.

Why become a Coach?  There are additional benefits that come from this including giving you, the Coach, increased well-being and resilience. Doing work that feels meaningful is a great way to manage your mental health too.

There is another benefit that might surprise you. When you work as a Coach you learn a lot about yourself. Why is that useful? Well, you will find you get better at communication with family, friends and others. As these skills improve you will find life calm and balanced because great communication skills are a superpower to manage relationships.

You may also start to recognise your own triggers and as your self-awareness grows feel more in control increasing your general happiness in life.

If you want to be a full-time Coach or even a part-time one there are some great benefits for you in how you work. You can fit a coaching practice around your life choices when you work. This flexibility is one of the best things about being freelance.

Many people start part-time and build up their businesses before leaving their day job. Why become a Coach?  You can do that too and keep financial security while you get going.

If you are more interested in becoming a coach to help in your day job all the benefits of making a difference and the personal goodies still apply. In addition, you will be adding a skill set that really lifts your game in the workplace.

If your company has an in-house coaching culture you will be demonstrating a commitment by gaining the skills yourself. If you have a Coaching Diploma it will also look great on your CV.

Coaching styles in leadership are seen as both positive and effective. If you bring this approach to the workplace you will see improvements in communication, influence, cooperation, teamwork and productivity.

I wonder what other benefits you have read about or even experienced that I didn’t include above. Do add your experience of Coaching in the comments.

If you want to have a free chat to discuss your Coaching pathway do contact me directly.