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Life Coaching and Post-Healing Society

Posted by Julia Stewart

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There is a broad assumption in our society that many, if not most people need to heal, as in restore health or be made whole. And while healing is a phenomenal process that can restore life to millions of people, and for which I am most grateful, I believe we are increasingly moving into a "post-healing society" and I'm not alone.

Post-healing is itself an extraordinary milestone in human evolution, which deserves to be talked about and clarified, so we all know when we are experiencing it and so we can have more of it.

I'm sometimes surprised by people who are unaware of even the possibility of a post-healing society.

So what am I talking about when I say, "post-healing society?" I'm calling it "post-healing", because at the start of something that is this complex and revolutionary, it's helpful to make a distinction between newly emerging conditions and that which went before, gave rise to the new, and is now distinct from it. Over time, I believe a different name will emerge that describes more fully what "post-healing" really is, but for now, let's look at how it is different from healing society.

Post-healing society and healing society currently overlap and will do so for the foreseeable future.

I'm talking largely about psychological healing here, but body, mind, heart, and spirit are so entwined that that distinction may not be altogether important. In fact, appreciating the inherent wholeness and interconnectedness of body, mind, heart, and spirit is a feature of post-healing.

From a psychological perspective, healing society arose and reached its zenith in the second half of the 20th Century when defining mental illnesses, cataloging their symptoms, and finding effective treatments for them became the primary focus of the fields of psychology, psychoanalysis, and psychiatry. As treatments became more effective, the impact on society was seismic. People started to understand their own differences and difficulties, as well as those of others, learned to ask for what they needed, began to experience wellness, spoke up for their rights to be treated equally and with respect, and for many, to a large degree, suffering was diminished.

When there is less suffering, new possibilities emerge.

But by the end of the 20th Century, many professionals seemed to believe there was something psychologically wrong with us all. I heard one psychologist say that everyone had something, either a neurosis, personality disorder, or psychosis; or else they had addictions, brain damage, or other neurological disorders. Another told me that in therapy, neurotic is what you want to be, because everything else is worse.

So what is healthy if everyone is ill, including apparently (since everyone has something), the therapists, themselves?

I wasn't the only one wondering about this, because positive psychology officially emerged in the 1990's as a sub-specialty of psychological research. Positive psychology is specifically concerned with studying people who are doing well, who enjoy well-being and are flourishing, so that others can learn from them and enjoy greater well-being, also.

The pioneers of positive psychology, notably Martin Seligman, went so far as to declare that the goal of positive psychology was to render itself obsolete. In other words, that the larger field of psychology would return to its original intent and cover the entire range of human behavior, rather than just focusing on what was wrong.

Here's a real-world example of post-healing. Seligman was asked by the United States Armed Services to help returning servicemen and women who have developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a debilitating illness that is particularly difficult to heal. After surveying a large number of soldiers, Seligman's team found that a small percentage, who had been exposed to many of the same horrors of war as those who developed PTSD, actually seemed to grow through the experience.

The key to growth rather than illness? It was the story they told themselves about it, in other words, the meaning they attached to the event. If a soldier told him or herself that they were at fault for the deaths of their buddies, or that they should have been able to save a friend, they were more likely to develop PTSD. If on the other hand, they told themselves that they must have been spared for a reason and that now they had an important purpose to serve with their lives, they were more likely to experience what Seligman calls, Post Traumatic Growth.

Now there is training for soldiers that can help them grow through trauma, instead of being damaged by it.

We could call this pre-healing, since it precedes the need for healing. I call it a post-healing intervention, because it comes from a mindset that sees the limitations of healing and, instead of allowing a problem to continue and then waiting to heal people from it, it has found a solution that eliminates the need for healing (An even more advanced post-healing society would eliminate the need for war.)

As an aside, I want to mention that 20th Century psychology has focused, from a scientific and medical standpoint, on many of the same issues that were once thought to belong to the realm of spirit, spirituality, and religion. Afterall, its name is derived from the Greek, "psykhe", meaning soul, spirit, or mind.

Today's "spiritual-but-not-religious" movement focuses on healing almost as much as the psychological field.

But modern spirituality also focuses on the transcendent, trans-personal, upon enlightenment, and other lofty states. Like the field of psychology that is envisioned by Seligman, spirituality focuses on the full range of human behaviors and experiences.

An example of post-healing spirituality is Zen Master, Genpo Roshi's, brilliant integration of voice dialogue therapy with modern Zen, called Big Mind. The goal of Big Mind isn't healing, but Buddhist enlightenment. It begins with the assumption that the student is already whole, complete, and perfect; including the parts s/he would like to eliminate!

An example is what Roshi calls a "disowned voice", a part of us that we judge negatively and may want to eliminate and that can become a problematic shadow. One such voice is what he calls, "The Damage". Most of us who seek out healing would love to eliminate what we consider damaged in ourselves. Some of us go from therapist to therapist, spiritual healer to spiritual healer, for years hoping to finally be healed.

Don't go to Roshi for healing, though. Instead, he completely reframes the role of The Damage. He will tell you that you are already whole, complete, and perfect, including The Damage, which is perfectly damaged. It's perfect, because it has accepted all the slings and arrows of your life, so the rest of you can remain undamaged. No more, no less.

What would you call someone who took a bullet for you? Your hero?

The Damage is a hero who accepts all the damage we would otherwise endure, allowing the rest of our selves to remain whole, complete, and perfect. It deserves to be honored and embraced. Instead, we cause suffering for ourselves by framing it as imperfect, not good enough, broken, or sick. When we go through life believing we need to heal, we sometimes keep old wounds open, we feel less than, we sometimes give away our power to healers, or we may use our condition to be less than fully responsible for ourselves.

Once you embrace that you're whole, complete, and perfect, there are no more excuses.

I'm not suggesting that these two examples of what I call, post-healing, are what everyone needs. Remember, both the healing society and post-healing society will exist side-by-side for quite a while, if not forever. I am suggesting that healing has opened the door to post-healing.

I'll use myself as another example. As someone who grew up in the proverbial dysfunctional family, I worked with a number of therapists over the years, believing there was something wrong with me. They made a big difference. But one of the most dramatic shifts that I made with any therapist was with the last, who at one point said, "Read my lips, you're healthy." Accepting that there was nothing seriously wrong with me was like waking from a dream. Suddenly, so much more was possible. I felt confident and believed in myself.

Of course, I wouldn't have gotten there without the help of some wonderful healers. And that's my point. Therapy got me ready for post-healing. And it got me ready for coaching, too.

Life coaching is, as far as I know, the first and perhaps only profession that is completely post-healing.

Life coaching and its siblings, including business coaching, executive coaching, and more, don't focus on healing clients, but rather assist clients to shift into more resourceful, and some would say, transformative mind-states that help them see solutions to problems and pathways to goals, while inspiring them to take action and create the outcomes that are best for themselves and others.

We see our clients as whole, complete, and perfect. We believe in them from the very start. We help them reframe limiting beliefs, integrate disowned voices, and experience their interconnectedness with others. As a result, they become more confident, believe in themselves, evolve into who they want to be, and create valuable changes for themselves and others. It's both an honor and an interdevelopmental experience to work with people who are discovering their true selves for the very first time.

They step into their greatness and go on to change the world for the better.

Imagine a world where all people not only heal, but reach their full potential and are inspired to transform the world. It's not a dream. Because of the good work done by healers, clients are becoming ready for post-healing and coaches go on to make transformative possibilities real everyday.

Would you like to join the post-healing society?

Find a coach here. Or become a coach. Your first step toward professional coaching might be to download the  FREE Become a Coach eBook.

Get a free Become a Coach eBook here.

Topics: business coach, executive coach, become a coach, Genpo Roshi, Big Mind Big Heart, Life Coaching, Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, free ebook, post-healing

Coaching Tip: Enlightenment Can Be Bad For You

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching TipHow do coaching, personal development and spirituality cause dysfunction?

If you think coaching, personal development programs and spirituality are always good, think again. The tools that coaches use and that personal development gurus and spiritual teachers also may employ are usually great when used in the right situations by people who are ready for them. Try using most of those tools in every situation, though, and you can get yourself in a whole lot of trouble.

Which tools am I talking about? Well, many. But here are a couple of examples that are closely related to each other:

  • Seeing the perfection in every situation
  • Eliminating the ego 

I've coached a lot of people who were 'highly evolved'. They were very spiritual and always saw the beauty, opportunity, learning, etc. in everything and rarely let their egos get in the way.

Their lives were a mess. And they were tough to coach, because they felt good and they thought they were supposed to think that way. People who feel good aren't motivated to change. People who feel good when their lives are a mess are in some ways a little bit crazy (not a diagnosis, just an observation).

Come to think of it, I passed through this stage years ago when I first started meditating. Suddenly, things that used to bother, hurt, or anger me, didn't anymore. It was very freeing. It felt good. I loved it.

And my life started falling apart. Why? I'd lost my boundaries. I got into dysfunctional relationships, because my former warning system, pain, had shut down. I was very forgiving, had but lost the ability to say, 'Hey, this is not okay with me.' Fortunately, I learned to grow past my 'enlightenment'.

Coaches who have drunk too much of the Coaching Cool-aid, sometimes fall for this. They will quickly reframe every challenge as an opportunity. Or they will coach everybody they meet, as if their own needs never even matter. They lose critical skills when they try to show up 'like a coach' in every situation (and they're less effective as coaches).

Skills like:

  • Discernment
  • Engagement
  • Commitment

Procrastination, complacency, and cluelessness may set in. Because after all, everything's great, right? So there's no need to make changes. People may start to avoid them. Relationships, careers, health, and finances begin to fall apart. But all the while, they feel GOOD, because they're stoned on their own endorphins. And like all opiate addicts, they've lost the ability to notice and respond to their environments. Not pretty.

Positive psychology researcher, Barbara Fredrickson, says too much positivity gets us in trouble. People tend to do best when they experience positive thoughts and feelings about 75-90% of the time. Anymore than that and they stop  heeding warning signs, miss important details, become over-confident, and lose credibility with others. They may spiral into failure and despair, as a result. That's not what you want for yourself or your clients.

In addition, by choosing in advance to respond to everything in the same way, they are limiting possibilities, rather than expanding them.

Worse yet, they may create shadow behaviors that are acted out out unconsciously. 'No ego' becomes arrogance ('I'm more enlightened than you!'). 'Seeing the perfection' becomes passive aggression (Got a problem? 'Just see the perfection in it, or else you're not 'woke'.)

One of the many things I value about Zen Master Genpo Roshi's teachings is that he takes this problem head on. He calls this level of enlightenment dysfunctional and says a zen  master's job is to push you through this stage as quickly as possible. Because otherwise you can get profoundly stuck. Feeling good all the time is very, very seductive.

Not many teachers even recognize this problem. In fact, some of them are actually stuck here, themselves. Many teach that this stage is desirable. Don't get sucked in by that.

Remember the saying, 'When you're going through Hell, keep going'? Well the great thing about Hell is that it feels so awful you want to keep going.

The awful thing about Enlightenment is that it feels so good, you want to stay there. And as soon as you try to hold on to it , you're not enlightened anymore. Delusion is enlightenment's shadow. Keep going.

When you fully engage with life, experiencing pain, resistance and yes, even your ego, you are fully alive, highly functional and - you're enlightened in a mature way. Then you've got the makings of a great coach. Yes, get your ego out of the way and see the perfection when you're coaching your clients. That's your job and it's a huge value to the people you coach. But when you're not coaching, be fully human.

And keep going.

Fully Alive Personal Development with Positive Psychology is a free extra program that's included with the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program. Learn more about it here:

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

Topics: Coaching, Barbara L Fredrickson, ENVIRONMENT, Coaching Tip, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Genpo Roshi, personal development, Positive Psychology, spirituality, Fully Alive, positive psychology coach, enlightenment

Positive Psychology Coaching: Emotions Are Data [Video]

Posted by Julia Stewart

Positive psychology and positive psychology coaching are associated with positive thinking, but that's erroneous. Positive psychology is about resilience, or the ability to "bounce back" from adversity. You cannot have resilience without adversity and the emotions that go with it: the so-called negative emotions like grief, anger, frustration, etc. Resilience requires flexibility. Rigid positive thinking is a trap that can lead to failure and despair.

This morning, one of the founders of the Institute of Coaching, Susan David, announced that her TED Talk, The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage, just went live. The Institute of Coaching has done perhaps more than any other organization to promote research and education about positive psychology, coaching, and emotional intelligence. The latter goes hand-in-hand with positive psychology coaching, because it teaches that flexibility part: how to identify one's own feelings and those of others and navigate the emotional landscape within ourselves and with others. Coaches, like most leaders, must have emotional intelligence to be fully effective. We teach about that in Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Coaching.

Coaches need emotional intelligence to coach with positive psychology, which is why I became a Founding Fellow of the Institute of Coaching and why School of Coaching Mastery sponsors the organization. As a result, members of our school get a discount on membership at IOC.

So I'm pleased to share with you the wisdom of Emotional Agility via Susan David and TED:

 

 

If you'd like to learn more about positive psychology, coaching, and emotional intelligence, please download the free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook:

 

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

Topics: Institute of Coaching, video, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, free ebook, emotional intelligence, become a positive psychology coach

4 Reasons You Should Get ICF ACSTH Coach Training, Not ACTP

Posted by Julia Stewart

ICF ACSTH coach training programSometimes people ask me why the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program is an ICF ACSTH* program instead of an ACTP**. Savvy coaches know they need training that has the ICF's stamp of approval. Both ACSTH and ACTP designations mean the coach training program has gone through rigorous requirements to be approved by the ICF (International Coach Federation), which is the best-known professional coaching organization that approves coach training programs. But what's the difference and why is ACSTH better for the coaches who study with us?

Four Major Reasons ACSTH is Better for Our Coaches:

  1. You don't have to wait to get your certifications. When you take an ACTP program, you have to complete the entire program, which may take a couple of years, before you apply for ICF certification and sometimes you can't even get your school's certification until then. With the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program, which has a total of 210 ACSTH credits (125 for Part 1; 85 for Part 2), you get a certification or certificate of approval, with ICF credits, after every module you complete along the way. You could be certified by us in just 8 weeks! Or, apply for your ICF ACC after earning just 60 hours with us. You're in the driver's seat. Choose what works best for you.
  2. You don't have to pay for an ICF Mentor Coach if you don't want one. ACTP programs are required to provide students with ICF mentor coaches, which means everybody has to pay the coach training school for their mentor coach and that makes tuition awfully expensive. But what if you don't care about ICF certification? Most life coaches don't need ICF coach certification, so why should they be required to pay for a mentor coach to qualify for a certification they don't need or want?
  3. You can choose your own mentor coach. You definitely should have your own coach and you should choose that coach carefully. Not every coach is a good fit for every client, so why would you want one assigned to you by your coaching school? When you take an ACSTH program, you can choose your own coach and we can help you find one that is affordable.
  4. You can customize your training to fit your exact preferences. Some new coaches just take Part 1: Intro Level of the CPPC program, while others want both parts. Some advanced coaches just want Part 2: Master Level. About a quarter of our students already have ICF-approved coach-specific training and don't want to start at the beginning, but aren't quite ready for Part 2, yet. With an ACSTH program, we're free to customize your training program for your exact needs. Take the courses you want to reach the goals that matter to you. You can also take just one module, before you decide to take the whole program. Virtually all our modules can be taken one-at-a-time, although it's much more cost-effective to register for the full program. Don't take an ACTP program, unless you want one-size-fits-all training.

So there you have it! The Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program is less expensive, offers more choice, can fit your needs exactly, and starts giving you those crucial credentials within weeks, instead of forcing you into a long, expensive, one-size-fits-all training.

Learn more about the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program; download the free fact sheet:

Get Certified Positive Psychology Coach Fact Sheet

Topics: mentor coach, ICF, Coach Certification, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Life coaching school accreditation, coach training school, Coaching Certificate, Positive Psychology, positive psychology certificate, ACSTH

Coaching Trends & the Future of Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

Future of Coaching

 

What’s on the horizon for the profession of coaching?

 

 Let’s look at today’s trends and then imagine the implications…

TREND: With artificial intelligence expected to replace many humans in professions that rely on knowledge and linear thought, such as medicine and law, thousands are training for fields, such as coaching, where intuition, creativity, people skills, and communication tools are more difficult to replicate in machines.

TREND: Coaching skills have become wide-spread among workers who manage others.

TREND: Coaching horror stories are on the rise.

TREND: Hundreds, if not thousands, of privately-own coach training schools have formed.

TREND: However, coach training is increasingly found in universities with sky-high tuition.

TREND: As the climate crisis continues to grow, distance communication, working from home, virtual meetings, and other forms of distance work will rise.

TREND: Webinar training tools, video chat, and other distance-learning and communications systems are evolving and improving.

TREND: Scientific Research on coaching is on the rise, proving a scientific basis for coaching results.

TREND: Positive psychology has become a source of powerful coaching tools.

TREND: It is too late to prevent climate change, climate resilience for seven billion people, is a worldwide goal, and resilience is a top deliverable of positive psychology coaching.

TREND: Neuroscience and neuroplasticity powerfully inform effective coaching interventions.

TREND: Technology will continue to disrupt modern life at an ever-faster pace, with most people experiencing several major transitions in their lifetimes.

TREND: The number of coaching professional organizations and certifications that claim to be the ‘best’ continues to increase.

TREND: Professional coaching can now be found in virtually every part of the world.

TREND: Movements have been afoot, around the world, to regulate life coaching and other forms of professional coaching for decades, but so far, coaching remains unregulated.

TREND: Most coaching clients say they prefer to work with certified coaches.

 

If current trends in coaching continue, what is likely to happen in…

 

10 years:

Coaching Growth: The number of new professional coaches swelling the ranks will continue to grow. The number of professional coaches will level off over time, with a less-prepared, less-motivated coaches dropping out, due to increased competition.

Coaching reach: Coaching will no longer be considered exotic or only for the rich and famous. It is almost as common as personal training, today. In addition, non-professional coaches will exist throughout society and many people will experience the benefits of coaching from childhood onward.

Coaching delivery: Technology will provide coaches with excellent options for coaching their clients internationally, but local in-person connections will continue to be important, as technology continues to integrate online with offline. Coaching in corporate settings may continue to be delivered person-to-person, but most coaching will be likely to be delivered via computers, smart phones, and other mobile devices.

Coaching fees: Coaching fees have traditionally been sky-high since coaching’s inception. Fees will level off, with a furthering split between a relatively small group of elite certified coaches, who deliver high-end, high-paid coaching, and a much larger group of coaches who offer lower-paid services.

Coaching regulation: Professional coaching may be regulated in some countries, with many more in the process of developing regulations. These regulations will require coach-specific training, certification and/or college degrees, as well as adherence to standardized codes of ethics as requirements for coaches who coach for pay.

Coach training: Coach training via teleseminar or teleclass will go the way of the buggy whip. Many privately owned coaching schools will go out of business, leaving mostly coach training schools that are either approved by the ICF or are aligned with universities. Coach training will be delivered via multi-media distance learning and less via live training in universities and hotel conference rooms. As universities attempt to take over the job of educating coaches, the cost of coach training will skyrocket (Ex: Currently Penn State University offers the Master of Applied Positive Psychology for Life Coaches, at a cost of $50,000 for one year of training.)

Certifications and degrees: Consumers will commonly be aware of coaching horror stories and will know not to work with uncertified coaches. There will be no one certification, whether from a not-for-profit organization, or from a school, that dominates or is preferred – this will lead to further confusion amongst those who hire coaches, as well as those who want to become coaches. Newer coaches will have coaching-related degrees, certifications and/or certificates from ICF-approved schools and universities. Older coaches, those with years of coaching experience, but not the newer certifications and degrees, will survive only if they have excellent reputations as effective coaches.

 

20 years:

Coaching will be a mature profession that continues to evolve. Virtually all professional coaches will be trained and certified, and coaching regulation will be the norm. People will expect much more from professional coaches, partly because amateur coaches will be everywhere and partly because the dramatic transformations that occur with high-quality coaching will be expected, not just hoped for. Hypercomplexity, via technology and climate change, will be challenges that prompt people to hire coaches more often.

More dramatically, as a result of coaching's growth, society will evolve, with more people living values-driven lives. People will upgrade their expectations of life and will find creative ways to satisfy their new standards. Non-professional coaches will exist everywhere in society and many people will relate to one another with a ‘coach approach’. It will become common for people to be coached at every stage of life. What is considered masterful coaching today will be considered average professional coaching.

 

30 years:

Society will continue to transform due to the effects of climate change, artificial intelligence, and professional coaching, and coaching will be a highly respected profession. Excellent professional coaches will continue to earn high fees, but professional coaching will be regulated virtually everywhere. In addition, people throughout society will be coaching others for free. Since coaching can be used for ‘evil’, there will be both positive and negative effects, but the awareness that comes from coaching and being coached will make it harder to manipulate groups of people. Far more will be expected and required from politicians, business leaders, teachers, coaches, and other leaders. Individuals will live their lives more courageously and having a coach to partner through important transitions, will be considered an absolute necessity, which means virtually everyone will have a coach.

 

What do these coaching trends mean to you, the new coach?

 

  1. The future looks extremely bright for the cream of the crop. If you plan to be a professional coach and you want to be well paid, do whatever it takes to distinguish yourself as one of the best. That includes training, certifications, and evidence-based coaching skills.
  2. If you want to stand out quickly, take advantage of this small window of time to study with a privately-held school that will help put you head and shoulders above this increasingly crowded field. If you can afford to spend $50,000 on your training and there is a good-quality university coach training program that will actually teach you to coach, consider it. Because currently most universities only teach about positive psychology, leadership, and other related fields, but neglect in-depth skills and philosophies that make for great coaching and for coaching success.
  3. Get at least one coach certification from a not-for-profit organization, such as the ICF. Consider getting more than one such certification, since that may soon be a requirement for practicing coaching where you live and it’s impossible to predict which current organization, if any, will prevail.
  4. Continue to upgrade your knowledge and skills throughout your career. It will help you stay up-to-date on important trends, earn higher fees, and it’ll help you stay in business if/when regulations occurs.
 

The School of Coaching Mastery Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program provides coaches with the skills and certifications they need to prevail now and well into the future. Get the facts about this innovative program...

 

Get Certified Positive Psychology Coach Fact Sheet

 

Topics: coach training, coaching success, ICF, Coach Certification, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, coaching schools, get certified, coach training program, coaching career, coach training school, Positive Psychology, experienced coaches, Neuroplasticity, positive psychology coach

Can Positive Psychology Strengths Coaching Actually Weaken You?

Posted by Julia Stewart

positive psychology coaching photo by Denis De Mesmaeker.jpg

Lately, I've read a couple of blog posts, from reliable sites, that attack the effectiveness of positive psychology, positive psychology coaching, and specifically, strengths-based coaching*. I appreciate a well-written contrarian point of view, because it can highlight incongruities and exceptions to rules that we might easily miss, because the accepted wisdom on a particular topic, would rarely address it.

Plus contrarian titles make us curious.

That last point is the real reason you see so many contrarian articles: Angelina Gives Birth to Alien Baby! Man Bites Dog! Stand in line at the grocery store and entertain yourself with contrarian titles in the magazine stand. The good ones make you want to buy the magazine.

I frequently write contrarian articles, myself. My post on why Tony Robbins wouldn't qualify for ICF certification has had nearly 100,000 hits, because it suggests one of the most famous coaches, worldwide, couldn't get certified.

That was pretty cheeky of me.

I've been certifying coaches for nearly 15 years. I know something about coaching standards, but I actually admire Robbins and say so in the post. He doesn't need coach certification, because he's famous, skilled, and has a powerful reputation. My post isn't a condemnation of him, but a nuanced look at coaching and certification, plus a suggestion that there are multiple ways to coach well. I raise points that most coaches don't talk about. Hopefully, that gets them thinking more deeply about a controversial topic.

So lately, when I read a couple of take-downs of positive psychology, I first thought, "Okay, fair game. These posts create curiosity."

But these articles don't just offer contrarian points of view. They are more like beatings and the writers betray a shocking ignorance of their topics, especially considering their platforms. One was from The Atlantic. The other from Harvard Business Review.

Ignorant writing, hiding behind contrarian titles, on well-respected sites, is the academic equivalent of "fake news". It's misleading, creates confusion, and promotes discordant thinking.

To be fair, both HBR and The Atlantic shared multiple sides of the topic via separate posts and that's legitimate. But the writers of these articles (see below) still betrayed an ignorance of positive psychology. They sounded like hacks, who did a quick Google search on the topic, then reacted negatively to their superficial understanding of the material, and then wrote a pounding about it. And if you found the articles via Facebook ads, or Google searches, you might never read the opposing view.

Before we knew about online Russian propaganda, this type of article was known as "click bait." Click bait sites are blogs intended to pull in traffic, with false or misleading material, in the hope that readers will click ads, while on the page, to make money. Has journalism fallen so low that even Harvard has succumbed to this type of cheesy approach? By the way, I found an excellent rebuttal to the HBR article, on a different site, here.

Many people, who left comments on the HBR article, display a stronger understanding of positive psychology than the author. Below, is one concise comment from Peter Peckarsky:

"This is not a HBR-quality piece. It's speculative and published for clicks. An accurate title should read something like "Poorly Applied Strengths-Based Coaching Can Actually Weaken You - Just Like Any Program With No Balance."

I'm going to address the basic misunderstandings displayed by both the author of The Atlantic article, When Grit isn't Enough, and the HBR article, Strengths-Based Coaching Can Actually Weaken You, below.

  1. Positive psychology was never intended to to replace other valid psychology tools or theories. It's intended rather to balance them and fill out gaps in theories that previously fell short of helping people thrive. As with any other theory, when applied ineffectively, it may actually harm. When used appropriately, it can transform lives. The founders of the positive psychology movement set a goal, twenty years ago, to make positive psychology obsolete, because psychology interventions should never be a binary choice between positive vs. negative.
  2. Positive psychology interventions such as strengths, grit, and growth mindset; are descriptive, not prescriptive. They describe what people, who are already flourishing, have been doing, with the suggestion that those who want to flourish, may choose to experiment with similar behaviors. Of course, there are environmental, personality, and other factors that impact outcomes. To turn these tools into dogma, political correctness, judgmentalism, or any other type of rigid thinking; is as wrong-headed in positive psychology as it would be with virtually any other topic.
  3. Thousands of peer-reviewed research studies have been published in the two decades since Martin Seligman declared positive psychology an official field of study, while president of the American Psychological Association, and they continue. In fact, they have since early days, addressed many of the deficits the authors raised, but failed to find in their own research. Apparently, if you were to read even one book by Seligman, you would know more than a writer from Harvard.

My takeaway in this age of fake news, click bait, and Russian propaganda; is that truth still matters and those of us who care about it need to be more vigilant than ever. Reading a blog doesn't make you knowledgeable, not even this blog.

Also, the fantasy that education would become obsolete in the era of Google has proven itself to be a lie. But where will education come from if educational and journalistic institutions lower their standards?

I don't have any easy answers, but I can say that at this school, we're still taking responsibility for the content we publish. We don't run ads on this blog, because we don't think it's wise to put our motives in conflict. So, If you trust us and are curious about becoming a positive psychology coach, you're welcome to download the following eBook.

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

 * Thanks to Coach Louise Santiago, PhD, for sending me the HBR post mentioned above.

 

Topics: Free, ICF, Tony Robbins, Positive Psychology, Strengths, Martin Seligman, positive psychology blogs, become a positive psychology coach

Does a Psychotherapist Need Coach Training to Become a Coach?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Do Psychotherapists Need Coach Training

At School of Coaching Mastery, we get tons of inquiries from people interested in becoming coaches. Quite a few of those inquiries come from psychotherapists. Questions from psychotherapists about coach training fall into two types.

The first type of question, from psychotherapists who are interested in coach training, are from therapists who assume that coaching and therapy techniques are the same and therefore their degrees and years of practicing therapy should exempt them from coach training, or that they should take the shortest and cheapest route to coach certification. Those coaches often mention that coaching is unregulated and that they already coach their therapy clients with skills such as, training, education, and support. Usually, they're looking for confirmation that they can just call themselves coaches, or they're looking for a fast, easy, and inexpensive course for therapists.

This group of therapists are sometimes surprised to discover that "not regulated" does not equal "anything goes" in professional coaching. Coaching is well-researched; we know what techniques work best (often not those used in therapy), we have codes of ethics and well-defined standards of certification. The reason we're still unregulated is because we don't target vulnerable populations or people in crisis. Never-the-less, we may become regulated eventually, and approval and certification from well-established professional organizations, such as the ICF, will likely be beneficial for professional coaches.

This group is also sometimes surprised to discover that they don't actually understand what coaching is, what it is for, or how to do it. Coaching is not practicing therapy without a license, nor is it therapy without a diagnosis. It is neither training, nor education. It is not advice giving nor consulting. It is not a way to practice something you're not licensed for, just because you call yourself a coach. I'm reminded of the woman who told me she called herself a coach, but was actually practicing conversion therapy (an attempt to convert a gay person to straight), which she couldn't get licensed to do, because being gay isn't an illness and therefore no one can be "cured" of it. I told her what she was doing violates coaching ethics.

The second set of questions come from therapists and counselors who also have advanced degrees in psychology or psychotherapy, including holders of doctorate degrees and professionals who have been practicing for years. This group is usually well-informed, has high standards, and is genuinely excited about becoming coaches. A sizable percentage of these coaches join our Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program, because they love the focus of coaching, which is on flourishing rather than healing, and because they're excited about the new direction positive psychology is taking, away from pathology and towards well-being. This latter group fits in perfectly at School of Coaching Mastery and we encourage them to join.

We have an application to join the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program, which helps us weed out people who aren't likely to succeed as coaches. You don't have to have a professional degree in psychology to be accepted into the program, but if you do need to be excited about becoming the best coach you can be, so you can offer maximum benefits to your coaching clients.

If you're a psychotherapist, or anyone, who thinks you may want to become a coach, ask yourself why. If it's mainly because coaching is trendy and well-paid, but you have no deep passion for it, no amount of money or time spent on coach training will be worthwhile for you. However, if you love the idea of helping people reach their full potential and attain exciting goals or dreams, this may be the profession for you. Apply to the program to find out.

Interested in becoming a positive psychology coach? Get the free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook here:

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

 

 

 

Topics: coach training, become a coach, ICF, coaching vs. therapy, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, psychotherapy, Positive Psychology, life coaching vs. psychotherapy

Positive Psychology Coaching: How the Solar Eclipse Can Transform You

Posted by Julia Stewart

Solar Eclipse by Tim Ebbs.jpg

If you live in North America, you know today is the day of the coast-to-coast solar eclipse. And if you're in the path of the totality, that's pretty exciting. Since ancient times, the eclipse of the sun has been seen as harbinger of change. Whether that be turmoil, doom and gloom, or lasting peace, the eclipse is when big things were supposed to happen. Today, we know what to expect from above AND we can CHOOSE what to change down below. How?

Positive psychology offers clues on how the total solar eclipse can help transform us. Where ever you are, follow these coaching tips to use today's eclipse of the sun to begin all over again.

3 Ways the Solar Eclipse Can Spark Your Transformation:

1. AWE. According to positive psychology researcher, Dacher Keltner, the experience of awe changes us, immediately. Awe occurs when we're confronted by something incomprehensibly huge, something incredibly beautiful, or something terrifying. A total solar eclipse can be all three. It's the direct experience of three massive celestial bodies (the ones that matter most to life on Earth) behaving bizarrely, by blotting out the Sun's rays, without which, all life on Earth will die.

No biggy, right? You know the Sun's coming back in a minute. But that won't stop your fight-or-flight response from kicking in during totality. The hair on the back of your neck may stand up as you experience what your intuition says is all wrong. Your brain's error detection system will tell you something BIG is out of order, and if you're within hearing distance, the howling of dogs, and other disturbed Earthlings, will confirm your worst fears. But at the same time, it's so BEAUTIFUL: stars come out; planets may be visible, you might even notice a 360 degree "sunset" on the horizon. People who travel across the world to see eclipses, called "shadow chasers", say the total eclipse of the sun is the most awe-inspiring experience a human being can have.

How does awe change us? According to research, people who've just experienced awe behave differently. They are kinder and more generous to strangers, and feel closer to loved ones, perhaps because they realize how small each of us is and that we're all in this thing called, life, together. That's nice for others, but may matter much, much more to you: because when you're kinder and more generous, without expecting anything in return, you start enjoying more happiness and good things come seem to come to you more easily. A minute or two of creepy darkness, and awe-inspiring celestial alignment, may well be worth the extra happiness and success you can enjoy for the rest of your life.

Even though kindness may seem commonplace (if you've been fortunate), it's one of the most powerfully transformative tools for creating greater joy, wellbeing, success, and good health for yourself, and since happiness is contagious, you'll be helping others be happier, just by your presence. 

Coaching Tip: Later in the day, when you're alone, spend up to 30 seconds recreating the emotions you experienced during and after the eclipse. Use all your senses as you remember the details of your experience. Called "savoring", this technique helps strengthen the neural connections that make transformation sustainable. Do this everyday for a month to maximize the effect and intentionally increase your kindness and generosity to others. Your life will transform.

2. PEAK EXPERIENCE: Similar to awe, the peak experience is intense and transformative. Some people try to induce it via extreme sports, because wildly dangerous experiences help them feel fully alive. But peak experiences are helpful another way: They shake up your sense of "me-ness" and push you out of your usual conditioned responses, if only for a few moments. That's scary, but also exhilarating. In the moments that follow, people often solve problems that have vexed them and come up with innovative ideas. If you're a business owner, artist, or anyone who needs creative solutions to life, peak experiences are everything. You can induce one by jumping out of an airplane without a parachute, but fortunately, the total eclipse provides us with a similarly mind-bending, awe-inspiring, frighteningly overwhelming event without actually threatening our lives.

Coaching Tip: Got a big problem or need a huge idea for your business? Right after the total eclipse may be the perfect time for you to discover the solutions, while your brain is temporarily scrambled  from that super weird experience.

Ask yourself these questions immediately after the totality: What needs to change from now on? What's one way you'll be different from this moment forward? What's the first step you'll take, to make that real, within the next 24 hours? Or sit down as soon as you can, with pen and paper, and brainstorm new ideas. Get crazy (that'll be easier than usual). You may just discover the answers you need. Don't forget to act on them to make them real!

3. GRATITUDE: After two minutes of irrational fear, you'll be GLAD when the sun comes back out. Notice how everyone laughs and giggles with relief. Thank the Universe that this was "just a test". The Sun's not really going away; it'll be back tomorrow, as usual.

Coaching Tip: Just after the eclipse, chat with the folks around you about how thankful you are for Nature and that you just got to experience this relatively rare event. Or when you're alone, list 3-10 things you appreciate most about Nature and for each one, spend 10 seconds savoring your gratitude. It's important to really feel it. You don't have to do this everyday, but it's a good idea to spend some time once per week, or so, thinking and feeling what you're grateful for on a deep, heartfelt level.

And if you need help, get out into Nature regularly, because it's incredible even on "normal" days. In fact, psychologists theorize that the current rise in depression is largely caused by our addiction to screens and our artificial lifestyles. We evolved to experience Nature everyday and we literally need it. Perhaps the greatest boon from the eclipse is that it gets millions of us outside.

Gratitude, like kindness, is one of the most potent ingredients in a flourishing life. You can experience it any time you want. When you do, happiness becomes your default, while anger, sadness, blame, and judgment all evaporate. Practice gratitude on a heartfelt level whenever you can and your life will be more peaceful and serene. And people who appreciate their lives always seem to get more of what they appreciate!

So get ready for a life-altering event. And make the intention to transform your life, and perhaps the lives of others, using the eclipse and a few easy tools.

And if living a life of joy and transformation is what you're built for, why not become a positive psychology coach? The Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program gives you tools to upgrade your life and business and the power to help others do the same. Plus, starting this Fall, The Fully Alive with Positive Psychology Program is included, at no extra charge. You'll have tools like the ones in this post to help your clients flourish. And if you join by the end of this month, you can save on the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program and still get the Fully Alive program in the Fall. Win-win-win.

Go here for information about the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program:

Become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach

 

Topics: gratitude, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, transformative conversations, Fully Alive, positive psychology coach

A Hot Coaching Specialty

Posted by Julia Stewart

Hot coaching specialty - firebreather by emersen quinn.jpg

New coaches are often obsessed with discovering their coaching niche or specialty, so I get asked how to find it, all the time. I can relate, because I didn't know mine when I was new, either. In fact, like many coaches, I find my specialty evolves and occassionaly I like to upgrade it.

The best way to find your true specialty is to get good coach training and coach a lot of people, but sometimes just knowing that a specialty exists helps you to "discover" it.

Look at the guy in the picture, above. I don't know anything about him except that he looks like he's mastered the art of fire breathing. Maybe even, it's his calling. But if he'd never heard of breathing fire and hadn't learned to do it, how would he ever know? Same with coaching.

So I'm going to tell you about a hot coaching niche and specialty and where you can learn more about it.

Here's why it's hot: The people who need this coaching are extremely high functioning, but need to upgrade their strengths to reach their lofty goals. And they influence others, which makes coaching them highly valuable for those around them and even for society, in general. Sometimes, even the planet benefits. And there is often a lot of money involved. In short, people see the value and the need for this type of coaching, and can pay for it.

What I'm talking about is leadership coaching, which is becoming hotter and hotter.

If you want to know more about it, in case it's the way to go for you, I recommend you take the upcoming one-hour-long Q&A class, Why Leadership Coaching is a Hot Specialty.

If you want to become a leadership coach, I recommend you join the Master Certified Positive Psychology Coach program, but if you're an experienced coach, already, you could also take the 8-hour course, Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Coaching.

Become a Leadership Coach

 

Topics: Positive Psychology, emotional intelligence, coaching specialty, leadership coaching

Future of Coaching: How the Internet is Causing the Rise of Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

Future of Coaching

Have you ever wondered why coaching has exploded worldwide over the past 20 years?

There are plenty of theories about the rise of coaching. For instance, I often point out to my students that coaching emerged just as positive psychology research skyrocketed and discoveries about neuroplasticity became known, because great coaching used ideas from both, particularly ideas about human potential.

Others have suggested that a century of psychotherapy got people healthy enough to want to, and be able to, continue growing so coaching emerged to help with that. Still others draw wisdom from the great Twentieth Century psychologist, Abraham Maslow, among others, and point out that people are evolving, which is different from healing, and they are  ready  to self-actualize, because their survival needs have been met.

These theories have merit, but I offer a radically different perspective that may matter most in coaching's origins and even more so in its future.

You see, coaching began developing into a profession during yet another explosion, that of personal computers, software, and the World Wide Web. We all know those technological advances changed our lives by making jobs that previously were tedious, time-consuming, expensive, difficult, or even impossible, easy. Plus, they connected us to other people, worldwide. But just as every solution unveils new problems, computers, software, the internet, a.k.a. technology, are releasing an overwhelming number of problems and pressures.

One such problem/opportunity is the constant acceleration of technological innovation, a.k.a. hypercomplexity.

The pace of expansion is overwhelming. Some of us are taking it in stride, but many are struggling. Let me give an example of positive adjustment:

  1. In the 1970s, I was exposed to computers, software, and eventually the internet, via school and work.
  2. But as a self-described techno-phobe, it wasn't until 1999 that I decided to buy an internet-ready laptop for home use and began surfing and emailing, like everybody else.
  3. Within two years, in 2001, I joined a web-based coach training school and became a coach.
  4. By 2002, I had a listing in an online coach directory. I'd gone from consuming the online economy to participating.
  5. In 2003, I launched my first web site.
  6. In 2004, I began launching additional web sites.
  7. In 2005, I launched my first blog and began learning to make online graphics. I also moved my business from one part of the country to another, but kept all my coaching clients, because we were already connecting and coaching via technology.
  8. In 2006, I spent months running my business, while traveling, with just a cell phone and a laptop, as my office. This is also when I started using social media in earnest.
  9. In 2007, I launched an online coach-training school. I also learned the meaning of the phrase, "cloud computing" and realized I'd been doing it for years.
  10. In 2008, I switched from coach training via teleclasses, to teaching via live interactive webinars, because the technology was finally better than telephone conferencing.
  11. In 2009, I decided to stop dabbling and master online content marketing and my school started taking off.

In one decade, starting with the purchase of that first laptop and joining AOL, I completely changed my life and work. Today, SchoolofCoachingMastery.com is one of the most competitive coaching web sites, worldwide, and the blog you're reading gets more than 20,000 views every month. All this, from a self-described techno-phobe.

It was possible, because technology simplified what was formerly difficult. Granted, to fully adapt and thrive in this rapidly-progressing technological environment, one must be open to the new, but as someone who did not adjust easily to technology, I needed more than just internet access in order to succeed.

Something else made it possible.

Best-selling author, Tom Friedman, says software makes complexity invisible by designing algorithms that take hundreds of  complex and difficult steps, while you make a few taps or swipes. By making complexity invisible, we're able to do far more than imaginable in 1999. But technology is also helping us create a world that is too complex for us to comprehend and that world transforms again and again before we can adjust to it. That is awesome, but it can be unbearably hard for us.

That's where coaching comes in. Coaching does for your life what software, apps, and other techno devices do for your productivity, only it turns "making complexity invisible" upside down.

Coaching reveals simplicity.

Remember, hypercomplexity means we're living in an incomprehensively intricate world that is ever accelerating. Anything that simplifies that in a meaningful way, without detracting from what matters, is a Godsend. Hence, the rise of coaching.

Coaching exists, in large part, because the internet created a new need.

Humans have an inborn need for simplicity. Or at least, they need complexity to be simplified enough that they can adjust to it. Previous generations lived in a slower world and may have experienced massive change once per generation. Our nervous systems can handle that rate. Now massive change comes about once a decade and it's starting to accelerate ever faster. Soon it'll be once a year, then once a month, once a week, once a day...But coaching reveals simplicity.

Yes, positive psychology and neuroplasticity provide us with amazing new tools. And yes, people with good mental health are poised to take best advantage of coaching. And yes definitely, people are evolving, especially those whose survival needs are well met and who have access to education, diversity, affluence, and of course, technology.

But even evolved people are having trouble keeping up.

And less evolved people, who may be poorer, more isolated, less educated, and have fewer opportunities; are falling behind the fastest. Many are virtually locked out of the job market. There's a big coaching opportunity there.

We used to say people needed coaching most when they were in transition, meaning transitioning from school to job, changing jobs, training for new jobs, starting businesses, living in new places, getting married, having kids, getting divorced, retiring. We now know that people will be changing professions every few years, that the one career constant will always be training for the next opportunity, that economies will take turns booming and many workers will travel around the world to stay employed. Meanwhile, changes in climate will increase social upheaval, spark wars, create famines, and will cause massive human migrations.

In the future, everyone will be transitioning all the time.

Being coached helped me make several transitions within one decade. In the future, people may need coaching constantly, because most humans can't handle that rate of change, but coaching can put people into the flow where learning becomes second nature, where wealth is less about what they have than what they can produce, where mental algorithms, like unique values, can help them think faster and make wise choices faster. That sense of flow is something our ancient ancestors had, but which we've lost during our "modern" period. What's needed for the future is a level of evolution that knits the ancient with the modern and post-modern. It used to only be available to elites, but now is available to anyone open enough to learn.

Coaching facilitates fast learning and smooth adjustment.

In the hypercomplex world of the future, demand for great coaching will be higher than ever. And though artificial intelligence can ask the questions, nothing but a human can bond with and believe in a coaching client. Two critical elements of effective coaching.

Simplicity in a hypercomplex world and someone who cares about and believes in us. That's what everyone needs, always.

Would you like to learn more about becoming a coach? Take a course and get certified:

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Topics: Coaching, coaching school, future of coaching, internet, Positive Psychology, Neuroplasticity

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