Yesterday, a new student at School of Coaching Mastery asked me what the difference was between positive psychology coaching and neuroscience coaching.
It's a great question because on the surface you wouldn't know.
He was deciding between our Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program or our Certified Neuroscience Coach Program. These programs some modules in common and a few that are different. What they have most in common are beginner to master-level coaching skills with an evidence-based approach that also acknowledges the integrative power of various spiritual perspectives.
- The first difference is in the underlying philosophies of positive psychology and modern neuroscience, which have guided the trajectory of research and ultimately the types of interventions that are associated with each.. Early theories and research into positive psychology explored what Western philosophers, such as the early Greeks, had to say about happiness and living the good life, while many modern neuroscientists have explored Eastern contemplative philosophies, such as Buddhism.
- Because influential neuroscience researchers, Richard Davidson for example, have explored the contemplative nature of the brain, many resulting practices developed that strengthen inner qualities such as equanimity and the ability to be fully present. A person's behavior naturally changes when they experience these qualities. Positive psychology researchers, such as Barbara Fredrickson, have explored inner qualities, positivity for instance, but have also looked at how outer behaviors, such as performing acts of kindness, impact our inner experiences. Positive psychology tends to be more action-oriented and less contemplative.
- That said, neuroscience is often perceived as more tangible, and therefore appeals more to some clients who "don't believe" in psychology and want hard evidence, because it directly measures what's going on in the body's communication systems and perhaps also because it relies heavily on high-tech machinery, for instance, fMRI machines, to take those measurements. Positive psychology, on the other hand, frequently relies upon research subjects' self reports via surveys, etc., as well as researchers' observation of behaviors, but sometimes positive psychology researchers also take direct measurements, such as hormone levels in the blood, so there is some subjectivity involved in positive psychology research, but not always. Some clients are more attracted to positive psychology than neuroscience, because they love the emphasis on positive thoughts, feelings, behaviors and their power to enhance well-being and flourishing. In fact, both positive psychology and neuroscience tend to appeal to today's coaching clients who want services that are evidence based.
- In short, the following describes the differences between positive psychology coaching and neuroscience coaching, so long as you understand there are exceptions and that there are many commonalities between these two styles of coaching: Positive psychology coaching is influenced by Western philosophy and employs many outside-in approaches to influence inner well-being via action-oriented practices, such as journaling, practicing gratitude and acts of kindness, and employing one's strengths to promote inner well-being, outward prosocial behaviors, and greater success; while neuroscience coaching is influenced by Eastern philosophy and employs many inside-out approaches that can physically change the brain over time, such as meditation, visualizations, and breath exercises that create measurable states of relaxation and enhanced awareness, and influence thoughts, feelings, and ultimately behaviors that promote a thriving life.
That's why you learn about both in our Certified Positive Psychology Coach® and Certified Neuroscience Coach programs and our advanced program integrates these practices even more.
Oh and the student who originally asked this question? He decided to start with just one module and take a few weeks deciding which program to embark upon. He'll be able to apply the fee that he paid for his module to the program down payment, which will reduce his down payment to just $3. That's a smart way to do it!
Learn more about becoming a positive psychology coach and how neuroscience fits in by reading the free Become a Positive Psychology Coaching eBook. To download it now, click below: