Becoming a Positive Psychology Practitioner

Applied Positive Psychology Research / Positive Psychology / Professional Practice / Training Courses

Positive Psychology in Practice

There are currently a number of ways to become a Positive Psychology Practitioner, or someone who shares their knowledge of Positive Psychology through professional skills in practice.

For those ready to engage in an academic course at Masters degree (level 7 in the UK), several universities offer reputable Masters degrees in Applied Positive Psychology, also known as MAPP degrees. At the Positive Psychology Guild (PPG), we partner with one of these institutions, Bucks New University, who runs an MSc in Applied Positive Psychology here.

For those looking to engage in a professional course that bridges academic studies and scientific research with personal development and professional practice, PPG offers three rigorous 2-year specialist qualifications: (1) Level 5 Diploma Positive Psychology Practice & Coaching (Coaching Pathway); (2) Level 5 Diploma Positive Psychology Practice & Training (Training Pathway); (3) Level 5 Diploma Positive Organisational Psychology (Organisational Pathway).

We also run a Level 5 Diploma in Positive Psychology Fundamentals for those who wish to explore the subject but aren’t yet sure if they wish to practice it, or who wish to gain knowledge in this area to support further research at level 7. This is also the first module in the above practitioner diplomas.

The above qualifications will certify you to practice Positive Psychology using the following skills:

  • Psycho-education:
    • Character Strengths & Virtues
    • Authenticity, Self, Meaning & Purpose
    • Resilience & Wellbeing
    • Positive & Negative Emotions
    • Motivation & Change
  • Positive Psychology Interventions:
    • Person-Centred
    • Group-Centred
    • Evidence-Based
  • Pathway Specialist Skills:
    • Coaching (individuals, small groups)
    • Training (individuals, groups)
    • Organisational Facilitation (individuals, groups, systems, processes)

The course fees include 1 year of complimentary practitioner membership to the Guild. This includes liability and insurance coverage to practice (UK/Europe), and access to join a Register of Practitioners and a Community of Practice. For more information on membership services, please click here.

In addition, we run a Level 3 Certificate in Associate Positive Psychology Practice for those who wish to integrate Positive Psychology theories and concepts into an existing professional practice using introductory Positive Psychology knowledge and practitioner skills, and a Level 5 Award / Certificate / Diploma in Positive Psychology Practice for those who are already working with people and are looking for a quicker route into practice without the scientific and philosophical depth and rigour of the specialist diplomas above.

To learn more about qualification levels in the UK, please click here.

You may also contact us directly for further information on the above qualifications at: training@ppnetwork.org

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What do Positive Psychology Practitioners do?

Positive Psychology Practitioners educate and support people on topics related to wellbeing and flourishing.

They do this as coaches, trainers, facilitators, educators, teachers, researchers, managers, HR executives, counsellors, psychotherapists, clinical psychologists, and even psychiatrists. They may be employed to do this or be self-employed as freelancers or company owners. They may even volunteer in their community or practice freely in their own home with their own family in an unpaid capacity.

A Certified Positive Psychology Practitioner is a person qualified in Positive Psychology as a scientific discipline who translates this knowledge into an evidence-based and person-centred practice using a professional skill or set of skills (e.g. coaching, training, facilitation, research). They may draw on a broad or specific knowledge base in Psychology, Philosophy, and/or Sociology (or Social Sciences). 

Today, there are multiple ways to qualify and work as a Positive Psychology Practitioner.

Take Miranda as an example, a Certified Positive Psychology Practitioner.

Miranda holds a MAPP degree and is also a qualified teacher. She brings her Positive Psychology education and training into her school work where she helps to create positive learning environments for children and teachers alike. She is on the school wellbeing committee and is a passionate advocate for burnout prevention in the teaching profession. She discovered Positive Psychology while recovering from her own burnout and this motivated her to study it in more detail. Her MAPP research was on the relationship between zest/vitality and burnout in the teaching profession.

Miranda bridges Positive Psychology and Education.

Adnan is a Certified Positive Psychology Coach & Practitioner.

Adnan holds a PPG Level 5 Diploma in Positive Psychology Coaching Practice and is also a qualified fitness professional with a Bachelors degree in Exercise & Sport Science. He runs a private practice where his focus is on supporting the wellbeing of competitive athletes in small groups of up to 6 athletes at a time. He has formerly competed and understands the toll that high intensity training can take on a person’s overall wellbeing over time. He discovered Positive Psychology by chance when one of his athletes asked for his advice on it. He was instantly drawn to the scientific basis that the field was establishing and social connection is an essential part of how he works.

Adnan bridges Positive Psychology, Exercise and Sport.

Justin is a Certified Positive Organisational Psychology Practitioner.

Justin holds a PPG Level 5 Diploma in Positive Organisational Psychology. He works in HR with a multinational where he is the focal point for staff wellbeing. He is responsible for designing and delivering training programmes on wellbeing, and helping to facilitate organisational policy and practice on wellbeing. He has previously worked in management within the company and is now passionate about ensuring staff are supported on wellbeing at work. Justin is also furthering his knowledge base through level 7 research on systems to support employee wellbeing and is aiming to complete a PhD one day in the subject.

Justin bridges Positive Psychology and Organisational Wellbeing.

And finally, Sun-Yi, a Certified Positive Psychology Practitioner.

Sun-Yi holds the equivalent of a Level 3 Certificate in Positive Psychology Practice from a recognised school. She is a clinical psychologist who integrates strengths-based approaches into her client work. She works for a charity where she supports employees experiencing high levels of stress. Her outlook on life is both philosophical and scientific, and she enjoys bringing Ancient Greek and Eastern philosophy insights into her client work. She also has a strong interest in psychosocial interventions in communities and is actively researching how to engage disadvantaged communities in strengths-based approaches that support community wellbeing.

Sun-Yi bridges Positive Psychology and Clinical Psychology.

Miranda, Adnan, and Sun-Yi have all chosen different approaches to qualification in and practice of Positive Psychology.

This is because they all have different interest areas and perspectives, and contrasting professional backgrounds and goals. They chose to qualify with different educational providers and apply Positive Psychology in their client work differently, but what unites them is their shared interest in Positive Psychology and desire to share their knowledge and skills with people to help them be well and flourish.

No one practitioner looks and functions the same as the next, however they do draw on the same knowledge pool of evidence-based practice. Some may lean more towards the philosophical roots of the field while others lean more towards its psychological roots or sociological aspects of application. Some practitioners have specialist skills while others focus on the general skills of psycho-education and Positive Psychology Interventions.

As a side note, and very briefly, psycho-education is educating clients on Positive Psychology concepts while Positive Psychology Interventions help clients shift towards a more positive state. 

Each practitioner is different. Some enjoy working in depth with individuals, others like to work with groups or teams and others prefer working with systems that can indirectly support people’s wellbeing.

You could say there are 4 ways to practice Positive Psychology: (1) With individuals; (2) With groups; (3) With systems and processes; (4) Any combination of 1, 2, and/or 3.

For example, coaches and counsellors may support individuals, trainers and teachers may support groups, and facilitators and researchers may support policy and practice at work. These roles can also overlap. Coaches and counsellors might also work with small groups, trainers and teachers might work with individuals, and facilitators and consultants may draw on coaching and/or training skills.

You will find an increasing number of Positive Psychology Practitioners operating in diverse domains, from business, sport, counselling, and education to the military, government, and private practice. The profession continues to evolve each year as practitioners and researchers work together to explore best practices and approaches to Positive Psychology in Practice.

The aim of Positive Psychology Practice is not to replace traditional approaches to psychology or psychiatry, as these are very much needed for some people. Rather, it is to enhance the range of services available to people who are seeking overall wellbeing, a more meaningful life, an integration of positive and negative experiences, and a transition to a more optimistic and resilient way of life.

It is an exciting profession to enter and we hope we’ve piqued your interest in learning more!

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Where did Positive Psychology originate?

Martin Seligman, the founding father of modern Positive Psychology and former President of the American Psychological Association, was motivated to create a more positive approach to supporting people.

After many years of working in mental health researching “learned helplessness”, a state commonly associated with depression, Seligman and his colleagues began to question the mental health from a new angle. What is it that makes people flourish?

Together with Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian-American psychologist best known for his work on “flow”, Seligman defined Positive Psychology as “the scientific study of positive human functioning and flourishing on multiple levels that include the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life.”

Over the years, Positive Psychology evolved to the research, study, and practice of wellbeing, which Seligman defined by the acronym, PERMA, which translates to: Positive Emotions, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning, and Achievement. You will study the application of PERMA throughout your diploma pathway.

Positive Psychology is also known for its emphasis on “Learned Optimism”. This originated out of Seligman’s work on learned helplessness and builds on prior research in psychology on people’s dispositions, outlooks, and attitudes, as well as cognitive approaches to reframing negative experiences.

Learned optimism is one of the ways in which we can build resilience to mental health challenges and learn to live a happier and more fulfilling life. It is also one of the subjects we teach in parallel with insights to mental health and wellbeing.

Positive Psychology is also known for its emphasis on the pursuit of happiness through a meaningful life. It draws on both philosophy and psychology in its research, study, and practice. As a Positive Psychology educator, and positive organisation, we seek to add value and meaning to our students’ overall diploma experience.

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How do I know which course is right for me?

At PPG, this is a question we frequently receive during enquiries.

The answer is, it really depends on your professional and/or personal goals, and we recommend reaching out to us for an initial exchange by email or phone. In this exchange, we can discuss if one of our courses is a good fit for you. You’ll also be able to ask questions relevant to your personal situation and professional or academic goals and needs.

While a direct exchange is often the best way to answer your questions, we hope the below information will be helpful too. They offer further details on each of our qualifications.

If you wish to reach out to us now, please email: training@ppnetwork.org

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Level 5 Diploma Overview (Professional Route)

Level 5 Diploma Positive Psychology Practice

We have recently launched a professional route into qualifying as a Positive Psychology Practitioner at level 5. This route is made up of five separate Level 5 Award qualifications in:

  1. Strengths Practice
  2. Wellbeing Practice
  3. Resilience Practice
  4. Somatics Practice
  5. Creativity Practice

Three of these Awards are the equivalent of a Level 5 Certificate and all five Awards the equivalent of a Level 5 Diploma.

This route offers a practical route into practice for those who do not wish to engage in the depth of study required for the Level 5 Diploma (Academic Route) mentioned below, which is essentially a double diploma!

The teaching is more directive and delivered in small doses of 3 months at a time for each Award. You may complete one Award and practice in a specific area (e.g. Creativity – let’s say you happen to be a musician or artist!) or choose several and incorporate further capacity to respond to client needs into your practice.

If you decide at a later point that you wish to follow an academic route to strengthen your knowledge base and evaluation of Positive Psychology research, you may add on the Level 5 Diploma in Positive Psychology Fundamentals mentioned below.

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Level 5 Diploma Overview (Academic Route)

Level 5 Diploma Positive Psychology Fundamentals

Each of our academic-practitioner diplomas is designed to follow a similar progression. All students complete the first module on Positive Psychology Fundamentals. This is also the Diploma mentioned above. It serves as a knowledge base for future practice and strengths the practitioner’s critical thinking skills on practice and research.

In this first phase of learning, you will embark on a challenging but rewarding journey through the scientific and philosophical study of Positive Psychology. You will also be introduced to other areas of psychology relevant to your future practice, such as Cognitive Psychology, Humanistic Psychology, and Social Psychology.

You will be encouraged to explore topics that interest you within the curriculum units. These units include:

  1. The Psychology of Strengths
  2. The Psychology of Authenticity
  3. The Psychology of Resilience
  4. The Psychology of Positive Emotions
  5. The Psychology of Motivation

For more information on the diploma, please refer to our course prospectus here.

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Coaching Pathway (Academic Route)

Level 5 Diploma Positive Psychology Practice & Coaching

This pathway is suited to people who would like to support the personal and/or professional development of individuals and small groups (up to 6 people), and existing coaches who wish to develop Positive Psychology as a knowledge and practice base.

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Training Pathway (Academic Route)

Level 5 Diploma Positive Psychology Practice & Training

This pathway is suited to people who are naturally inclined towards learning and teaching. Perhaps you find yourself studying one course after another and this time, you’re keen to pass that knowledge on to others. It is also suited to qualified teachers, trainers, educators, and coaches looking to expand their professional skills.

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Organisational Pathway (Academic Route)

Level 5 Diploma Positive Organisational Psychology

This pathway is suited to people who are employed in senior management and/or HR roles, and executive coaches, psychologists, and trainers who wish to apply Positive Psychology in organisational settings (e.g. via research, facilitation, and/or people/policy development).

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Alternative Entry Points to Practice

Positive Psychology concepts and theories may also be integrated into an existing profession such as coaching, training, facilitation, counseling, psychology, management, fitness instruction, personal training, sport coaching, and neurodiversity and inclusion. This is an alternative entry point into practice where the professional continues their established practice and gradually introduces areas of Positive Psychology into their work with individuals, groups, and/or systems.

If this approach is of interest to you, please visit the below course page links to learn more or contact us at: training@ppnetwork.org

Level 3 Certificate Associate Positive Psychology Practice

Level 3 Certificate Neurodiversity & Inclusion (Train the Trainer)

Level 5 Diploma Positive Psychology Fundamentals

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How much do the courses cost?

The course fees are listed on the above course website pages (please scroll down to the bottom of each page).

As a non-profit entity, we set our course fees at a rate that is hopefully affordable to most people and reflective of the time we will invest in teaching you online through our course material, open events, tutoring, training, and supervision processes.

Throughout your course, you will have an assigned tutor, trainer, and/or supervisor (depending on your course) with whom you can connect via email and regular online video calls via Zoom. This person will support your learning process, help you prepare for your assignments, and offer mentoring as appropriate. You will have access to a private online academy (the Positive Psychology Academy) where you will access your study material, online webinar series run by the Academy or Positive Psychology Centre, and connect with other students.

Your tutor, trainer, and/or supervisor will have direct experience of working in your pathway area and may run their own Positive Psychology practice or company. They will also be well-trained in the academic aspects of your learning with some engaged in research. Over the course of your studies, they will be a helpful resource for both your academic and practitioner-related questions.

Your course fee also includes your assessments and (if you successfully complete the course) your certification. You will also be offered one year of complimentary Associate or Professional Membership to the Positive Psychology Guild if you are graduating from a practitioner pathway. This includes access to a Community of Practice, an option to join the Register of Practitioners and, if you are based in the UK, liability and insurance coverage for your practice.

If you are completing a non-practitioner qualification, your course fee will include one complimentary year of Affiliate Membership.

To learn more about our membership services, please click here.

To learn more about the course fees, please visit the course pages above.

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How can I apply?

To request an application form or check future intake dates, please drop us a line at: training@ppnetwork.org

Please note that we generally have 3 intakes per year in January, May, and September. Some courses are available less often and some, more often. The course pages above will list the next intake dates (please scroll down to the end of the page).

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Do you deliver your courses in companies?

Yes, we do. A number of our online students are sponsored by their companies to study with us. In these cases our trainers tailor their support to the needs of the trainees and their work environment.

We also offer seminars, workshops, and training courses in person at your workplace. To enquire about the possibility of these, as well as our online courses for your staff members, please contact us at: training@ppnetwork.org

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What are the benefits of studying with PPG?

We are committed to establishing and furthering standards in the qualification of and support to Positive Psychology Practitioners.

This means we continually engage with our learners on the quality of their learning experience and readiness for practice on qualification. We respond to individual as well as group learning needs insofar as we are able, and strive to create a positive learning environment for all. You can learn more about our philosophy here.

Our Education team is made up of people who have established these courses as well as those who have completed them. Some hold MAPP degrees (Masters in Applied Positive Psychology) while others hold PPG Diplomas and Masters degrees in related fields (e.g. Psychology) with alternative Positive Psychology qualifications.

We are passionate about what we do and each have our own interest areas within Positive Psychology in addition to what we teach. Some of us are actively engaged in research and furthering the field of Positive Psychology (you can read more about our core team here). This means we are continually learning alongside our students!

Alongside running professional courses on Positive Psychology, we also serve as a professional membership body.

We offer 5 levels of individual membership: (1) Student (free); (2) Affiliate; (3) Associate; (4) Professional; (5) Fellow; (5) Organisational.

On entry to your course, you will automatically be given student membership. On graduation from one of our Positive Psychology Practitioner qualifications, you may choose to activate your 1 year of complimentary practitioner membership. At the end of this year, you may choose to continue (the current rate is £150/year).

This annual fee includes free entry to the PPG Register of Practitioners, access to a Community of Practice, access to an online membership site where you may connect with other Positive Psychology Practitioners, Students, and Affiliates, and liability and insurance coverage to practice (if you are practicing in the UK).

Organisational members are supported with PPG CPD points for their own course material. This is an external accreditation service that aims to promote standards in Positive Psychology training and education. They are also eligible to apply to become a PPG Approved Learning Centre.

For more information on membership, please click here.

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Why should I study with PPG?

There are many Positive Psychology courses out there, and we don’t expect to be the right choice for everyone.

As a thought leader, we make sincere efforts to contribute towards creating professional standards and accountability measures for Positive Psychology Practitioners through our professional online programs and membership body.

As part of this effort, we have created a set of Professional Guidelines for Positive Psychology Practitioners, which you can access here. We have also established 12 Practitioner Values and developed professional frameworks for practicing Positive Psychology through coaching, training, and organisational approaches.

We are also community-focused and welcome student and trainee practitioner engagement through our online Positive Psychology Academy and Centre, which run webinars on relevant topics and online groups where students and trainee practitioners may exchange ideas on topics such as Positive Psychology for creativity and innovation, and neurodiversity and inclusion. The Positive Psychology Centre offers CPD-accredited webinars.

We regularly conduct surveys and feedback exercises with our students, who typically share the following:

  • I’ve found a community where I feel I belong!
  • I am grateful I can connect with such a thoughtful teaching and administrative team.
  • I’m meeting people who share my interests and enjoy expanding my personal and professional network.
  • I’m being challenged much more than I expected but I can see how this is benefiting my capacity for professional practice.
  • The support from my tutor, trainer, and/or supervisor has been essential to my learning and development.

While the feedback we receive is largely positive, we also look for feedback that can help us improve how we deliver our courses. This type of open engagement with our student base has led us to increase the social aspects of virtual learning, reduce the turnaround time for marked assignments, and increase the variety of assignments to meet different learning needs.

We have also created academic and professional routes to practice at level 5, and an associate route to practice at level 3. These initiatives were taken based on student feedback.

Our open engagement with students and willingness to listen reflects our holistic approach to learning, where we strive to practice and embody what we teach, and encourage and support students in becoming more reflective and independent learners. We don’t want you to look and sound like us in practice; we want to equip you with the skills and support you need to practice like you!

We know that long-distance and part-time learning can be challenging, and we do encounter students who struggle from time to time with work/life/study balance, motivation and concentration, and/or academic studies. When students reach out to share this struggle, we do our best to support their ability to progress through the course.

Our team includes neurodiverse and neurotypical individuals, and we welcome students on the autistic spectrum and those with different learning needs. If this is an area of professional interest, you may want to view our Level 5 Diploma in Autism Awareness for Managers & Practitioners and our Autism Centre.

If you wish to learn more about PPG’s purpose, vision, and values, please click here.

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How can I apply?

To request an application form or ask questions about our courses, please drop us a line at: training@ppnetwork.org

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