Positive Psychology Coaching
Coaching, as a process that enables learning and development to occur, has been one of the most popular performance improvement methods (Parsloe, 1999). In today's modern world, thousands of people or organizations forge ahead with their private and professional life easily and quickly under the leadership of coaches. However, at this point achieving the goal of sustainable success is as fundamental as guiding client truly with right and substantiated tools. Hence, positive psychology coaching brings scientific-based and innovative applications of positive psychology together and provides proven methods to client to ensure achievement of the targeted goal.
As scientific research has been major on the theoretical and practical approaches of positive psychology coaching has for the last 14 years, plainly these two concepts serve as catalyser for each other due to their parallel purposes (Kauffman & Scouir's, 2004). Similar to positive psychology, coaching also aims to discover the strengths of clients and explore his aspects that are open for development rather than labelling as "flawed, problematic, broken". Therefore, both coaching and positive psychology are natural allies in sharing an explicit concern with the enhancement of optimal functioning and well-being (Hefferon & Boniwell, 2011: 209).
The research that was conducted by University of Pennsylvania in 2004 also confirms the achievement of this alignment; contrary to control group, people who work with positive psychology coaching, have less depression, stress and more goal attainment and resilience (Grant et al., 2009).
According to positive psychology coach, the ultimate question is “what does a valuable life look like in the eyes of my client and how can this be achieved?” rather than “what is the problem of my client?” Thus, the coach consults with the institution or person with a humanistic approach in order to support them to identify and maximize their strengths. In this way, abilities of client and resources are correctly matched and their integration in all aspects of their life is provided by the coach (Hefferon & Boniwell, 2011).
Grant,A., Curtayne, L., and Burton, G. (2009) Executive coaching enhances goal attainment, resillience and workplace wellbeing: a randomised controlled study. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(5): 396- 407.
Hefferon, K., Boniwell, I., (2011) Positive Psychology Theory, Research and Applications. Open University Press. Berkshire, England.
Pardloe, E. (1999) The Manager as Coach and Mentor. London: Charted Institute of Personnel Development.
The term of self-compassion, as a way of including yourself into the circle of compassion, was introduced to academia firstly by Dr. Kristin Neff, Associate Professor at the University of Texas. Neff and Dr. Chris Germer from Harvard Medical School, conduct a Mindful Self-Compassion program to help participants cultivate self-compassion.
This program aims to ameliorate critical inner-speech of participants who have difficulties to show understanding to their mistakes and imperfections. According to Neff and Germer three main facets constitute the backbone of self-compassion; self-kindness versus self- judgment, common humanity versus isolation, and mindfulness versus overidentification.
The first component, self-kindness entails building an intimate and insightful dialogue with oneself in the case of pain, failure or feeling of inadequacy instead of self-criticism. However, unfortunately, the majority of people tend to use injurious and critical language about themselves. At the point of pain, people do not cultivate compassion for themselves that is shown to a close friend in the same situation. When the reason is asked, they mention about how naïve and gentle to others, but how they fail to behave compassionately to themselves (Neff, 2003a). Even the situation that causes pain stems from uncontrollable reasons such as (to be fired or having an accident), these self-critical individuals find it hard to assess conditions in an objective manner and demonstrate self-understanding. Self-compassionate people may care about themselves in painful situations and may perform a relaxing and supportive inner-speech.
A sense of common humanity, which is the second branch of the self-compassion, implies that every individual have an imperfect life and suffer from different pains that are peculiar to their life. Moreover, we cannot get everything we want in life and falling behind our ideal self is completely normal human experience. We are not only one who is not perfect and makes a mistake. When we realize this significant truth, social-connectedness embraces us. That is why self-compassion is not self-pity, because of the fact that the “poor me” attitude belongs to people who isolate themselves from society and ignore the reality that others face similar problems.
Mindfulness, as the last component of self-compassion, involves non-judgmental acceptance of painful thoughts and feelings without any resistance or avoidance (Neff, 2003b). Since it is impossible to reject pain and feeling compassion at the same time, at the very first moment of pain, people try to eliminate their distress without identifying the problem. This kind of attitude remains futile as trying to treat an undiagnosed illness.
There are a variety of positive psychology applications that target self-critical individuals and led them to have more compassionate approach towards themselves. Even though lots of people confuse self-compassion with other unrelated concepts like being selfish or self-indulgent, large body of scientific research have proven the reverse of this assumption; when self-compassion practices are used in daily life regularly the levels of happiness, optimism, hope, emotional intelligence, life satisfaction and success increase, whereas depression, shame, anxiety and fear of failure decrease considerably. (Barnard & Curry, 2011; Neff, Kirkpatrick, & Rude, 2007).
Barnard, L. K., & Curry, J. F. (2011). Self-compassion: Conceptualizations, correlates, and interventions. Review of General Psychology, 15, 289–303.
Germer, C. K., & Neff, K. D. (2013). Self‐compassion in clinical practice. Journal Of Clinical Psychology, 69(8), 856-867
Neff, K. D., & Rude, S. S., & Kirkpatrick, K. (2007a). An examination of self-compassion in relation to positive psychological functioning and personality traits. Journal of Research in Personality, 41, 908-916.
Neff, K. D. (2003a). Development and validation of a scale to measure self-compassion. Self and Identity,2, 223–250.
Neff, K. D. (2003b). Self-compassion: An alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and Identity, 2, 85–102.
Compassion- Focused Therapy
Compassion-focused therapy, which was developed by Prof. Paul Gilbert from the University of Derby, integrates compassion that holds a sacred place in the ancient traditions of centuries with therapy rooted in evolutionary, neuro and psychological science models.
The primary aim of this integrated and multimodal approach is helping clients, who feel high levels of self-condemnation and self-shame, to establish insightful and compassionate relations with themselves. In this respect, the notion of empathy plays the leading role for understanding emotions of themselves and others. Then gentle acceptance and tolerance of these emotions becomes the following stage of the process.
First of all, the system of our brains and evolutionary stages of it are explained to the client within compassion-focused therapy. Thus, it is explained that anxiety, anger or depression are the natural states of our nervous system and these occasion does not occur due to a fault of no one. Furthermore, throughout therapy clients are helped to recognize the linkage between their early experiences (e.g. neglect, abuse or other threatening experiences) and ongoing fears (e.g. rejection, abuse).
The clients who experience long-term exposure to criticism of the outside world may become more sensitive to assailants and may turn their critical arrows themselves immediately. Compassion-focused therapy offers a series of mindfulness-oriented applications for clients who are able to feel self-criticism with strong bodily feelings. Thanks to these applications, clients are supported to identify self-criticism and transform it to inner warmth, safeness and soothing. Some clients learn to cope with these high levels of self-shame and self-criticism with few sessions, others may need to 10 or more sessions to start the cultivation of positive feelings toward themselves.
Gilbert P (2009). The Compassionate Mind. London: Constable-Robinson. Oaklands CA.: New Harbinger.
Gilbert,P (2009). An Introduction to compassion focused therapy. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 15, 199-208.
Gilbert P, Procter S (2006). Compassionate mind training for people with high shame and self-criticism: A pilot study of a group therapy approach. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 13, 353-379.
Laithwaite H, Gumley A, O’Hanlon M, Collins P, Doyle P, Abraham L, Porter S (2009). Recovery after psychosis (RAP): A compassion focused programme for individuals residing in high security settings. Behav & Cogn Psychotherapy. 37, 511-526.
Philosophical counselling, which converts theoretical arguments of philosophy into practical solutions of daily life, has been accepted as a contemporary movement of applied philosophy since 1980’s.
In this manner, philosophical counselling supports the client to explore the elements that play a decisive role in the life of the client, identify problematic areas and integrate this knowledge in everyday life effectively. As well-known American philosopher John Dewey said, the value of philosophy is hidden in defining difficulties and suggesting methods for dealing with them. Because the solution of every problem lies in its accurate analysis. When common solutions are presented by disregarding unique situation of the client, this approach only adds one more to the problems of the client.
The overall aim of philosophical counselling, which takes its roots from Socratic dialogue, is not persuade the client to adopt a particular opinion or a solution. On the contrary, counsellors’ goals are to offer their clients a clear understanding about their world views and belief systems. Thus, the life objectives of the client becomes brief and to the point. This is the first and most important step of satisfying and meaningful life.
Within philosophical counselling, the discussion points are the philosophical issues that are located in the centre of our lives such as, middle-age crisis, the meaning of life, morality, emotions. These are firmly grounded issues and they can be resolved in the process. Philosophical counsellor does not suggest quick and temporary solutions to problems of the client. The mutual analysis, which will be done about approach of client to the problem, may take some time. However, thanks to this method, at the end of sessions clients reach competency to overcome similar problems without any external support.
Emotional Freedom Technique
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which can be defined as Psychological Acupuncture, resembles classic acupuncture treatment in terms of inspiring by traditional Chinese medicine. Within the scope of this alternative psychological method, EFT aims to resolve and remove physical and emotional ailments in the energy fields of the body.
According to eastern medicine, the underlying causes of ailments cannot be reduced psychology or physiology merely. Each physical and mental components of the body belong to the whole, and physical illness may cause psychological discomfort or vice versa. Emotional Freedom Technique is adaptation of psychology to the ancient method, which is called acupuncture and has been utilized in numerous areas from open heart surgery to quit smoking. With respect to this technique, which has been used since 1960, blockages in energy system of the body are an essential reason of negative emotions that emerged as a result of trauma. To succeed emotional freedom and rebalance energy body, simple tapping with the fingertips is used. Meanwhile, consultant reminds the client of the trauma that is experienced with a number of directives. Thus, the energy body of the client is stimulated to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians. As a result of verbal guidance of the client about the intensity of his/her discomfort, emotional block begins to resolve in the bioenergy system of the body and the effects of trauma are alleviated or eliminated.
The successes of EFT on the subjects of fear and trauma have given way to new important scientific works. The research that published by Journal of Clinical Psychology in 2000, reveals the effectiveness of EFT in overcoming phobias (Wells, 2000). Similarly, another study conducted in the same year in the US demonstrated positive impacts of EFT on the traumas after traffic accidents and the disease of epilepsy (Swingle, 2000). Clearly, Emotional Freedom Technique, which is used by many therapists and scientists, brings about permanent and successful outcomes.
Wells, S., Polglase, K., Andrews, H.B., Carrington P., Baker, A.H. (2000). Evaluation of a Meridian Based Intervention, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), for Reducing Specific Phobias of Small Animals. Journal of Clinical Psychology (in press).
Swingle, P., Pulos, L., Swingle, M. (2000). Effects of a meridian-based therapy, EFT, on Symptoms of PTSD in auto accident-victims. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology, Las Vegas, NV
Bohne, M., Eschenröder C. T., Wilhelm-Gössling, C., (2006) dgtv-Verlag, Energetische Psychtherapie - integrativ
Important note: Although the benefits of acupuncture and EFT have begun to scientifically proven recently, the research process of Emotional Freedom Technique has not finished yet. Therefore, it does not replace any medical or psychological treatment.
Emotional Transformation Technique
Emotional Transformation Technique, which was developed by Dr. Silvia Hartmann and her research team in 1993, takes Chinese medicine as a base similar to EFT. From this perspective, both EFT and Emo Trans play integral roles in terms of eliminating reflections of negative emotional traumas in the energy of the body.
Emotional Transformation Technique targets to alleviate and resolve emotional distress of client by putting much emphasis on body of the client. With the coordination of clients and consultants, first of all the effects of trauma on the body is analysed. After the forms of physical pain or trauma are determined, the body is ready to experience emotional transformation. To this end, the flow in the energy body of the client is initiated via breath and awareness activities.
The most significant advantage of Emotional Transformation Technique is that the client does not have to explain clearly his/her problem. Due to the fact that unlike EFT, this work does not proceed via the directives of consultant that are given about problems. The transformation occurs throughout the discourses concerning to mindfulness and awareness. Therefore, in the conditions which client does not feel ready to mention about or face to his/her problem, implementation of this technique process facilitates the process for both sides. Emotional Transformation Technique can be applied as an aid method in all emotional discomfort such as intense pain, shame, grief, feelings of guilt, depression, stress, anxiety, etc.
Important note: During my studies, I noticed the considerable similarity between the activities of Compassion-Focused Therapy, Self- Compassion and Emo-Trans. However, unlike the scientific background of these two approaches, I have not reached any scientific data about the positive impacts of Emo- Trans yet. Despite I experience the benefits to this technique on myself, due to lack of enough scientific studies on Emo-Trans; it cannot be used instead of any medical or psychological treatment.
© 2016 by Aydan Bayir
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