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Why the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Credential is Trademarked

Posted by Julia Stewart

CPPC Header

Recently, I've had to tell a few coaches and coach training schools that are claiming the credential, "Certified Positive Psychology Coach", that they need to stop, because it is trademarked.

Most are great about it and make the necessary changes right away. But one school, which I suspect has knowingly used our trademark for some time (maybe I'm wrong), is giving us push-back. This violates virtually every code of ethics in the profession of coaching and is a disservice to the students they are certifying. If you are one of those graduates, this is not great.

The usual protocol for notifying colleagues you believe are infringing on your copyrights or trademarks is to have your attorney send a letter and escalate from there if there is no response, but coaching works best when we treat each other with courtesy and respect, so often we begin with a nice personal note and only escalate if it is ignored. The second step is to notify the ICF, because this is an ethics violation, and the final step is to turn it over to attorneys.

[UPDATE] This post has been updated, because I realized I was feeling insulted when I first wrote it and that's not where I want to be coming from. The response of that one school was inappropriate and a comment on their website actually claims other positive psychology coaching programs are just selling information they got freely off the internet. I don't know anyone who is doing that and that comment reflects poorly on the writer.

I can't speak for other schools, or teachers, but for the record, I've spent years formally researching positive psychology, coaching, and related topics for my dissertation. But yes, tons of information on positive psychology is freely available on the internet and if you want to read the latest research that's been published, you can join the Institute of Coaching, at McLean Hospital, Harvard University, which subscribes to expensive research journals for its members and even reviews pertinent papers, which helps members select which papers they want to include in their own research. Members of the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program can join the IOC at a discount (currently only $100 per year), because I'm a Founding Fellow and my school is a Sponsor of IOC.

That last perq is helpful to our students, because they are required to do a little research of their own to graduate. A few are PhDs, who are already seasoned researchers, but those who aren't get an introduction to qualitative research and discover that it's not so hard and that they can feel confident about their work and knowledge and never need feel intimidated by well-known researchers or academics. Other requirements for graduation include coaching at the proficient-to-masterful range, which helps make this program unique.

The main reason the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® credential is trademarked...

The main reason I trademarked it is to establish a standard of excellence. Read below for why I thought that was necessary. A secondary reason was that our coach training program was named after that certification. So if ever someone else trademarked the name, I would have to go to court to defend it and if I lost, would have to change much more than my certification. So the reasons were primarily professional, but also business-based.

What is actually trademarked are those four words, in that order, capitalized or not. We neither challenge whether other positive psychology coach training programs have merit nor whether they have a right to certify their graduates. In fact, I think a few other programs are great, but we all have different strengths. That’s how it should be. It makes us distinct to potential students who need to decide which school to join.

That said, our graduates jump through several hoops and need to coach at a higher level by the time they get certified, which is one of the reasons they do so well after graduation, so we want to keep their certification distinct in the marketplace.

Here’s a bit about my background that may explain this point of view: After teaching in academia during the 80’s and 90’s, I trained with Thomas Leonard, the founder of the coaching profession (also the founder of both the ICF and IAC), and I quickly moved into training and mentoring coaches at, what was then, the largest coach training school in the world. I was their lead certifier. That gave me an early opportunity to train thousands of coaches in advanced skills and get them certified and on to successful careers. I quickly developed expertise and became known as a go-to person for advanced training and certifications. I launched my own coaching school (School of Coaching Mastery) a couple of years later.

I’ve studied positive psychology, both formally and informally, for about twenty years. Like most lifelong learners, I take advantage of a variety of sources of education, whether graduate school or even a free MOOC, now and then. Right now, I’m back at school for yet another degree and my dissertation, which I’m still writing, is on an aspect of positive psychology coaching that has been neglected.

Several years ago, I noticed positive psychology programs proliferating. Many included some basic coach training, but not enough to support professional coaching. People registered for the programs, thinking they would become professional coaches, but discovered they weren’t well prepared. I think that’s unfair to the students.

I knew what they needed to know and I knew how to teach it to them.

I was already teaching positive psychology to coaches and my students were asking for more. I was ready to teach advanced positive psychology coaching, as the demand began to rise. So I researched what else was available, at the time, and was shocked that there was no certification in positive psychology coaching, because in my opinion, positive psychology and coaching are made for each other. A legal team did a further exhaustive search, as did the US Patent and Trademark Office. The phrase, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, was available and I registered it.

A major difference between academia and coach training: is that academia has hundreds of years of rules, customs, and protocols, not to mention accreditation, that helps keep standards where they need to be. It’s an imperfect system, but generally, it works. Otherwise, everyone could have a PhD and those letters would mean nothing.

Coaching was still in its infancy when I joined it and it had none of that infrastructure. It was the wild west. The freedom and creativity helped it grow and develop exponentially, but there’s a dark underbelly and people get hurt. I’ve known people who went bankrupt or lost their homes because of unscrupulous “coaches”. Overtime, organizations, like the ICF, began developing standards, ethics, and certifications.

The ICF has registered trademarks for the names of their certifications, because they are challenging credentials to earn and represent high standards. Plus trademarking protects certified coaches and helps establish reliable brands that clients trust. Otherwise, people could sell the "ICF MCC" on Udemy for $12, with no effort, and ICF certification would be meaningless.


So although I’m all for creativity and freedom, I’m also for high standards and ethics. It’s a balancing act. In the absence of hundreds of years of customs and laws, not to mention the US Dept. of Education, coaching uses a different set of tools to establish appropriate boundaries to protect coaches and their clients. Among those tools are copyrights and trademarks. This system is imperfect, but it generally works.

That’s why I registered the trademark for Certified Positive Psychology Coach®, because I know the level of coaching that most coaches need to succeed and I wanted to protect that level of coaching in positive psychology for the sake of my students, who work hard for this credential, and their clients, who deserve high-quality coaches. I'm not saying other coaches aren't good, nor am I saying other training programs aren't good, just that they aren't training at an equivalent level.

Nobody likes getting an email that says they can't use a specific name in their business, but there's no point in casting the owner as the villain. Most of us just make the changes and move on.

I founded the Association of Positive Psychology Coaches, along with my students. And I am considering giving this trademark to the APPC, after it is completely separate from my school, if there are enough equivalent schools to make it worthwhile, and if APPC ever develops that much clout. Why? Many people prefer to hire coaches with certifications from well-known not-for-profit organizations, because schools have widely differing requirements. Then APPC could license qualifying schools. Right now, there are a couple other positive psychology coaching schools that are approved by the ICF for ACC (entry-level certification) training and they are probably great programs. My programs is approved to train coaches at the ACC, PCC, and MCC levels, so in my opinion, it is more advanced, at least when it comes to coaching skills.

If you've received a "Certified Positive Psychology Coach" certification from an organization that doesn't have permission to use it, the bad news is that you can't claim that certification. That sucks. The good news is we will waive some of our requirements for you so you can complete a legitimate Certified Positive Psychology Coach®. Then you can use it proudly and with no worries. Best we can do.

 

Apply to the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program here.

 

If you're curious about the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program, see below. We can waive some requirements for people who already have training in coaching and/or positive psychology.

 

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program 

Topics: Certified Positive Psychology Coach, positive psychology coach, positive psychology coach training, positive psychology certificate, become a positive psychology coach

Neuroplasticity Coach: How Brain States Become Enduring Traits

Posted by Julia Stewart

neuroplasticity coaching

Lately I've been reading the excellent book, Altered Traits, by Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson, two giants in the fields of emotional intelligence and  neuroplasticity.

If you're a neuroscience geek, like me, you may enjoy reading all about the research, but if you're just curious, here's the lowdown, plus the connection with coaching.

They wanted to set the record straight about research into neuroplasticity, meditation, mindfulness, and how states developed via positive practices can, over time, become enduring traits.They're concerned about the hype that surrounds these popular topics, especially mindfulness, because it's so trendy right now, and they share what science really knows about tools that change the brain instantly, and over time, sustainably, leading to greater happiness, equanimity, resourcefulness, and transformation.

States are temporary changes in the brain that impact how we think, feel, and act. They are an important driver of human experiences, relationships, well-being, and success.

Brain states can be measured in a variety of ways, such as fMRI imaging of blood flow to various parts of the brain, EEG measurements of brainwave patterns, or measurement of neurotransmitters present in the brain; to name three. They also can be measured indirectly via observance of behaviors or via self-reports by subjects, but this is more the realm of psychology, specifically positive psychology.

States are fleeting. We may not always notice when our brains change states, but trained observers often can witness these changes. States can be positive or negative, which are generally categorized by how pleasant or unpleasant they feel, how likely they are to promote behavior that results in desired outcomes, and how they may promote wellness or pathology.

Many so-called positive states are pleasant, promote desired behavioral outcomes, and can result in greater health.

Skilled coaches help alter their clients' states in virtually every coaching session. Our main objective is to move the client from a less resourceful to more resourceful state and take advantage of that greater resourcefulness to plan strategies and actions that can promote desired change.

It's pretty profound that coaches can alter their client's brain states, but truth is, we all alter the brain states of others' without even knowing it, often with undesirable consequences. Coaching amounts to communication that leads to positive, or desirable, outcomes for the person being coached, because they are, temporarily at least, more open, more solution oriented, more optimistic, more creative, and more resourceful.

How are traits different from states?

Traits develop over time when someone repeats the same thoughts, emotions, memories, habits, and behaviors. The brain actually changes physically as a result, because the neurons involved strengthen their connections every time the thought is repeated.

As the famous saying goes, by neuropsychologist, Donald Hebb, "Neurons that fire together, wire together."

For example, if you live a stressful life, and especially if you worry and ruminate about what stresses you, the neurons in your amygdala, called "the brain's alarm bell" by neuropsychologist, Rick Hanson, will strengthen their bonds and over time, will cause that structure to enlarge. The downstream results could include more stress, more worry and rumination, and perhaps behaviors that make things worse rather than better.

Neuroplasticity can go the other way, too. Positive practices, such as mediation, mindfulness, appreciation, shared warmth, and many others, seem to have a cascading effect on the brain and resulting behaviors, over time. Theoretically, coaching and being coached, as well as following through on many coaching exercises, such as journaling, practicing gratitude or mindfulness, or even following through on resourceful actions and developing new positive habits, can make enduring changes. The new becomes the default.

So there you have the connection between states, traits, and neuroplasticity coaching.

If you'd like to learn much more about these topics, consider taking the Intro to Coaching with Neuroscience course that is coming soon. You can earn 8 ICF CCEs and it's approved for 8 ACSTH within the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program.

Check it out here:

Become a Neuroscience Coach

 

Topics: gratitude, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, coaching with neuroscience, mindfulness, Neuroplasticity, positive psychology coach training, become a positive psychology coach

Positive Psychology Definition

Posted by Julia Stewart

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I write frequently about positive psychology and especially, positive psychology coaching. But how do experts define positive psychology and what exactly is a positive psychology coach?

Positive Psychology Definition: Positive psychology is based on research into what causes happiness and well-being and enables people to flourish (Stewart, 2016, A2-1 Coaching Guide:  Introduction to Positive Psychology for Coaches Class 1: Introduction).

This definition was gleaned from the writings of various positive psychology experts, such as Martin E. P. Seligman, Father of Positive Psychology, and Barbara L. Fredrickson, President, International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA).

Positive Psychology Coach Definition: A positive psychology coach is a coach who expertly coaches using research-based positive psychology practices.

Go here for definitions of coaching from the International Coach Federation (ICF) and School of Coaching Mastery (SCM).

How does one become a positive psychology coach? Currently, there are two pathways to becoming a positive psychology coach. One is to hobble together several courses in coaching and positive psychology. The second is to take fully integrated positive psychology coaching classes at School of Coaching Mastery.

How can you get a certificate in positive psychology coaching? Take the Introduction to Positive Psychology for Coaches, which is an 8-hour, 4-week introduction to the positive psychology practices that are most beneficial to coaches. 

How can you become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach®? Enroll in the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® program. Most coaches take about a year to complete it.

What's the difference between the Positive Psychology Certificate and the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® credential? The Positive Psychology Certificate is a certificate of completion. It means you completed a course in positive psychology. The Certified Positive Psychology Coach® credential is a stamp of approval from School of Coaching Mastery that says you have met the requirements for professional positive psychology coaching skills.

I hope these positive psychology definitions are useful to you.

Become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach®:

Get Certified Positive Psychology Coach Fact Sheet

Topics: Barbara L Fredrickson, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Martin Seligman, positive psychology coach, positive psychology coach training, positive psychology certificate

The Future of Positive Psychology Coaching: Here's an Exciting Opportunity

Posted by Julia Stewart

 

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I have exciting news plus a request for assistance. We have an opportunity to shape the future of positive psychology coaching and I want you to help – and benefit - from the results!

Please help us design the new Association of Positive Psychology Coaches (APPC). It's a networking and learning organization for professional positive psychology coaches and people who are interested in joining this fast-growing profession.

Membership is currently fre*e.

A little history: The APPC is a joint brainchild of certified positive psychology coach, David McQuarrie, CPPC, and me, Julia Stewart, founder of the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® program. It’s just getting started, right now.

What’s the plan? The APPC is a networking and learning organization specifically for positive psychology coaches, who have interests and concerns that are not fully addressed by existing professional organizations. These include:

  • What are the current opportunities opening up for positive psychology coaches, like me?
  • What is the latest research in positive psychology and, more importantly, how do I successfully apply it in my coaching sessions?
  • How do I meet, get to know, and collaborate with other positive psychology coaches?
  • How do I market my positive psychology coaching and attract the people who want to hire me?
  • How do I make a name for myself in positive psychology coaching?

What the APPC isn’t: We’re not designing the APPC to compete with the ICF, IOC, IAC, or any other professional coaching organization, nor any positive psychology organization, such as the IPPA. We have no plans to certify coaches and the APPC is not a coach-training school. Also, the APPC is not a not-for-profit, 501c organization – yet. It will be supported by School of Coaching Mastery until it is self-sustaining, but positive psychology coaching is much bigger than just us, so we plan to expand.

As I said, we are just getting started and you have the opportunity to get involved and influence the direction of this exciting new profession.

How can you help? I was hoping you’d ask…

I’d love to know how the APPC can best help YOU with your positive psychology coaching career. Our original idea was to host virtual networking sessions and interviews with top scientists, authors, and teachers; plus showcase leading positive psychology coaches. But is that what YOU want?

How can APPC serve you in a way that other organizations do not? Specifically, what are your concerns that aren’t fully addressed elsewhere?

If you’d like to get involved, answer a few quick questions below, and you’ll be taken to the page where you can sign-up to join APPC, fre*e!

[UPDATE May 5, 2016: The survey mentioned in this email is now closed. Thanks to everyone who filled it out - very helpful! Our first meeting will be on May 18th. To join the APPC (currently free of charge) and get email updates, invitatioons to meetings, and more; please join the APPC here:

Go Here to Join the APPC Now

Topics: Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, positive psychology coaches, positive psychology coach, positive psychology coach training

Should You Become a Positive Psychology Coach? Take This Free Quiz

Posted by Julia Stewart

positive psychology coach

Many coaches say positive psychology is the future of coaching, personal development, success, and high performance.

So what does it take to become a successful positive psychology coach? Take this quick positive psychology coaching quiz to find out. If you want to see how other people responded as soon as you click, “Finish”, or if your device doesn't show the quiz below, take the quiz here. Otherwise, take the quiz directly below.

If positive psychology coaching really is a great fit for you, why not fill out the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® application, too? Just click the big blue button at the bottom of this post to get started. We’ll keep you posted about upcoming opportunities such as the new Association of Positive Psychology Coaches.

 

How did you do? If most of your answers were, "I'm working on it" or "I've mastered this", you'll probably make a great positive psychology coach. Maybe your next step is to apply to the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® program, below...

Apply to Be a Certified Positive Psychology Coach

Topics: Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, positive psychology coaches, positive psychology coach, positive psychology coach training

Positive Psychology Coach Training Video

Posted by Julia Stewart

Here's a new video about positive psychology coach training by actor, coach, and host of "Marcus Recommends", Marcus Freed, SCM-CCC. He quotes positive psychology coaches, Valeria Pittaluga of Italy, Paula Facci of Brazil, and Jess Dods of the U.S.A.; about their experiences becoming certified positive psychology coaches.

If you want to quickly learn about positive psychology coaching, this video is packed with information in just over two minutes. Valeria calls positive psychology coach training a "brilliant opportunity" to learn about "healthy entrepreneurship". Paula mentions her increased confidence, "astonishing" results, and the "double digit growth" of her business. Jess says the results are "powerful and lasting" and he "highly recommends" this path to other coaches. Thanks to everyone who made this video possible.!

Enjoy the video here:

 

Learn more about becoming a Certified Positive Psychology Coach® here:

Learn More About Positive Psychology Coaching

Topics: coach training, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, video, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, positive psychology coaches, positive psychology coach, positive psychology coach training

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