Most people have some idea of what the term "coaching" implies, whether it be in a sporting, business or personal context. The traditional concept of coaching has been around for a while now, and those individuals who work with skilled coaches can reap meaningful rewards in their lives and/or careers. But recently, as a result of robust scientific research into ways of maximizing human potential, an entirely new approach has emerged in this field: Positive Psychology Coaching.

What is Positive Psychology Coaching?

In short, Positive Psychology Coaching teaches individuals new behavioral and cognitive skills so they can increase motivation, overcome obstacles, achieve dreamed-about goals, and make the transitions and adjustments necessary to become their best in any or all areas of life.

How Does it Differ From Other Coaching Approaches?

Why specifically a Positive Psychology approach to coaching? Positive Psychology is an empirically-based discipline that, for the past decade, has been researching and developing techniques for optimal human functioning for individuals and organizations. And the research findings are nothing short of life altering.

I'm often asked about the difference between Positive Psychology and other approaches to life coaching and/or self-help. Well, the difference is huge -- and there is no "secret" to it! Positive Psychology is based on robust scientific research, while most other modes of coaching or self-help offer solutions without the science behind them. In other words, there's no guarantee that traditional coaching methods will help clients reach their goals. This is an extraordinarily important distinction that makes all the difference in the world in terms of outcomes.

For Whom it is Appropriate?

Anyone! But let me give you some examples of what has been discovered. You may want to pursue a coaching relationship because you've encountered some difficulties or disappointments in your life. The idea of discussing happiness as a goal may not be front and center for you. But what Positive Psychologists have discovered is that happiness is not just a destination, but rather a major variable that supports you in your efforts to stay motivated, be successful, have positive relationships and enjoy good health. Furthermore, Positive Psychology has identified many methods for increasing the happiness quotient in any individual. And who doesn't want to be happy?

What Can You Look Forward to With Positive Psychology Coaching?

Those of us who specialize in Positive Psychology Coaching believe that developing a person's strengths, rather than spending inordinate amounts of time trying to correct weaknesses, is a more effective, enjoyable and efficient approach for the client. By helping you to identify your signature strengths -- the strengths that feel natural to you and that you use often -- you can learn to utilize them in solving problems and reaching your goals in life. And you're very likely to have a lot of fun doing it!

You can find more information in my book on Positive Psychology, It's Your Little Red Wagon... Six Core Strengths for Navigating Your Path to the Good Life (Embrace the Power of Positive Psychology and Live Your Dreams), available on

Copyright 2009. Sharon S. Esonis, Ph.D.

Author's Bio: 

Sharon S. Esonis, Ph.D., has spent close to three decades helping individuals thrive and improve their lives through her work as a licensed psychologist, author and life coach.

An expert in human behavior and motivation, Dr. Esonis specializes in the burgeoning field of Positive Psychology, the scientific study of optimal human functioning and the core strengths that can lead to the achievement of one's personally-defined goals.

Her most recent book, "It's Your Little Red Wagon... 6 Core Strengths for Navigating Your Path to the Good Life (Embrace the Power of Positive Psychology and Live Your Dreams!)," is Dr. Esonis's contribution to the field of Positive Psychology, presenting proven success factors and strength-building techniques that can lead individuals to a life of purpose, motivation and happiness. It is available on

Dr. Esonis earned her doctoral degree at Boston College and currently maintains a life coaching practice in the San Diego area. She also teaches Positive Psychology in the Extended Learning Program at California State University San Marcos. To learn more about the power of Positive Psychology and to order her latest book, visit her website at