Becoming a Positive Psychology Practitioner
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 3 Diploma Pathways (level 5): (1) Positive Psychology Practice & Coaching (Coaching Pathway); (2) Positive Psychology Practice & Training (Training Pathway); (3) Positive Organisational Psychology (Facilitation Pathway).
We also run a Certificate in Positive Psychology Fundamentals (also level 5) for people who wish to integrate Positive Psychology into an existing professional practice (e.g. counselling, social work) and those who want to study the subject without the intention of practicing.
What do Positive Psychology Practitioners do?
Positive Psychology Practitioners support people primarily in the areas of wellbeing and flourishing.
They do this as coaches, trainers, and facilitators, as well as education specialists, counsellors, psychotherapists, clinical psychologists, and even psychiatrists. They may be employed to do this or self-employed as freelancers and company owners. They may even volunteer in their community or practice freely in their own home.
We like to present it this way. A Positive Psychology Practitioner is a person qualified in Positive Psychology as a scientific research area who translates this knowledge into an evidence-based and person-centred practice using a professional skill or set of skills (e.g. coaching, training), and a knowledge base of Psychology and Philosophy. They also take care of and actualise their own potential and ability to flourish.
Regardless of the skill set, we find there are 3 fundamental ways to practice Positive Psychology: (1) Working with individuals; (2) Working with groups; (3) Working with systems and processes. For example, coaches and counsellors may support individuals, trainers and teachers may support groups, and facilitators and consultants may support policy and practice at work. Yet 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 skills.
Our view is that you need to study the science and philosophy first and then consider with whom, why, and where you wish to apply your knowledge base. This will indicate the professional skill or competency you might need (e.g. coaching, counselling, teaching, training, facilitation, and/or consulting). It will flag up any further consideration points such as the age group, gender-orientation, or culture of the clients you wish to work with. It will also be helpful to consider if you wish to employ yourself as a freelancer, set up a company, apply your knowledge and skills in an existing role, or seek employment elsewhere.
You will find an increasing number of Positive Psychology Practitioners operating in multiple domains, from business, sport, counselling, and education to the military, government, and private practice. The profession continues to evolve by the day, week, and year as practitioners and researchers work together to create further evidence that Positive Psychology in Practice works.
The aim of Positive Psychology in Practice is not to replace traditional approaches to psychology or psychiatry, as these are very much needed. Rather, it is to enhance the range of services available to people who are seeking overall wellbeing and a more meaningful life, and those transitioning out of dark places into a brighter space.
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, we seek to add value and meaning to our students’ overall diploma experience.
How do I know which pathway is right for me?
This is a question we often receive during enquiries. It really depends on your professional or personal goals and we recommend reaching out to us for an initial exchange by email, Skype, or another online platform.
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 the best way to answer your questions, we hope the below information will be helpful too.
Each of our 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.
In this first phase of learning, you will embark on a challenging but rewarding journey through the academic and scientific 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:
- The Psychology of Strengths
- The Psychology of Authenticity
- The Psychology of Resilience
- The Psychology of Positive Emotions
- The Psychology of Motivation
After completing Module 1, you will progress to your chosen pathway. Module 2 will focus on professional skills acquisition and development while Module 3 will focus on developing a professional practice. These modules integrate the lessons learned in Module 1 and focus on their application in practice through your chosen pathway skill/s.
For more information on the diploma and content of the 3 pathways, please refer to our course prospectus here.
We also offer CPD versions of our Positive Psychology Fundamentals course:
- The Psychology & Practice of Strengths
- The Psychology & Practice of Authenticity
- The Psychology & Practice of Resilience
- The Psychology & Practice of Positive Emotions
- The Psychology & Practice of Motivation
These CPD options are available for qualified Positive Psychology Practitioners who may wish to further their knowledge and application in a particular area of Positive Psychology through an associated project. You will complete a reflective log, literature review, and individual coursework that is oriented towards your current Positive Psychology in Practice area.
For more information on CPD courses, please contact us at: email@example.com
Coaching Pathway Profile
This pathway is suited to people who already know they would like to support others in a 1:1 capacity, and existing coaches who wish to develop Positive Psychology as a knowledge and practice base.
If you fall into the latter, you may qualify for an accelerated route on the diploma if you have a recognised coaching qualification and current practice. This means you will complete all of Module 1 but only the assessments required of Modules 2 and 3.
If you have studied Positive Psychology but don’t have a coaching qualification, you may also qualify for an accelerate route. In this case you will likely skip all or part of Module 1, provided you can show proof of study in these areas, and complete only Modules 2 and 3.
Students also choose the coaching pathway for a number of other reasons, including career development (e.g. as a manager or to seek a promotion) and personal development.
Some students also plan to progress to a MAPP degree and take on our course as a stepping stone to help them to understand how to approach and engage in academic studies in psychology.
Training Pathway Profile
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.
If this sounds like you, the training pathway can offer you a way to develop a training practice and/or develop as a tutor. The course will equip you with the skills to teach and train individuals and groups at work and/or in your community.
With this qualification, you may also apply to become a PPG Approved Tutor or, if you own a company, a PPG Approved Learning Centre. If you are applying to the latter, please bear in mind you will need to complete all 3 pathways (more on this below!).
If you already hold a recognised teaching or training qualification, you may be eligible for an accelerated route. This means you will complete all of Module 1 but only the assessments required of Modules 2 and 3.
If you have studied Positive Psychology but don’t have a teaching or training qualification, you may also qualify for an accelerate route. In this case you will likely skip all or part of Module 1, provided you can show proof of study in these areas, and complete only Modules 2 and 3.
Students also choose the training pathway for other reasons. For example, they may already be qualified coaches and wish to add a formal training qualification to their skill set. They may also be looking to progress in a Human Resources (HR) role or looking to run regular workshops on Positive Psychology subjects.
Some students are entrepreneurial. They wish to make a positive difference as business owners and are looking for formal training for themselves so that they can then build a future business in Positive Psychology or strengthen an existing one.
Facilitation Pathway Profile
This pathway falls under the Diploma in Positive Organisational Psychology. It tends to attract people who are employed in senior management and/or HR roles, and experienced coaches and trainers who wish to expand their skill set.
The facilitation pathway is open to all, however we recommend that those applying for this pathway are either qualified coaches and/or trainers, or have practical experience in these areas. This is because the skills and practice-based assignments in Modules 2 and 3 will invite you to draw on these skills and your professional experience.
If you already hold a recognised facilitation qualification and coaching/training qualifications or relevant experience, you may qualify for an accelerated route. This means you will complete all of Module 1 but only the assessments required of Modules 2 and 3.
If you have studied Positive Psychology but don’t have a facilitation qualification, you may also qualify for an accelerated route. In this case, you will likely skip all or part of Module 1, provided you can show proof of study in these areas, and complete only Modules 2 and 3.
Students who engage in this pathway are typically interested in Positive Psychology for performance and wellbeing at work. They would like to understand how to build a positive institution or organisation from the top-down and bottom-up through policy development, translating policy to practice, building best practices, and engaging with all levels of staff, from junior to senior.
How much do the courses cost?
This is obviously an important question. As a non-profit entity, we set our course fees at a rate that is both affordable and reflects the time we will spend teaching you online through our course material and your personal tutor.
Let’s start with what your course fee covers…
Throughout your course, you will have an assigned tutor with whom you can connect via email and regular online video calls. This person will support your learning process, help you prepare for your assignments, and offer mentoring in your diploma pathway. You will have access to an online academy (our Positive Psychology Academy) where you will access your study material, including our online webinar series that runs throughout the year (open to all students) and connect with other students.
Your tutor will have direct experience of working in your pathway area and run their own practice or company. 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, examinations, and (if you successfully complete the course) your certification and one year of complimentary Professional Membership to the Positive Psychology Guild. This includes access to the annual review process to join the Register of Practitioners and, if you are based in the UK, liability and insurance coverage for your practice.
Our 2020 fees are:
- Level 5 Diploma in Positive Psychology Fundamentals: £1250
- Level 5 Diploma in Positive Psychology Practice (one pathway, e.g. coaching): £2,450
- Level 5 Diploma in Positive Psychology Practice (multiple pathways x 3): £3,950
- Multiple pathways x 2: £2,450 + £495 x 2 (modules 2 and 3 of second pathway): £3,440
For more information on these fees and the accelerated routes, please visit the following links:
- Level 5 Diploma in Positive Psychology Fundamentals
- Level 5 Diploma in Positive Psychology Practice & Coaching
- Level 5 Diploma in Positive Psychology Practice & Training
- Level 5 Diploma in Positive Organisational Psychology
If you are not sure of your pathway fee, please drop us a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org
How can I apply?
You may start your Level 5 Positive Psychology in Practice studies at any time of the year. We also offer structured intakes of students 4 times a year.
To request an application form, please drop us a line at: email@example.com
For other course enquiry FAQs, please click here.
Do you teach 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 tutors tailor their support to the needs of the student and their work environment.
We also offer seminars, workings, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
What are the benefits of studying with PPG?
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 (£25/year); (3) Associate (£150/year); (4) Professional (£150/year); (5) Fellow (£150/year); (5) Organisational (£500/2 years for small organisations, the fee increases with the size).
On graduation from our level 5 certificate and diplomas, you are entitled to one complimentary year of Professional Membership. If you are based in the UK, the annual fee includes your liability and insurance coverage to practice.
The annual fee also includes free entry to the PPG Register of Practitioners, which runs an annual review process to join the Register of Practitioners, as well access to an online membership site where you may connect with other Positive Psychology Practitioners, Students, and Affiliates.
Organisational members are supported with PPG CPD points for their own course material. They are also eligible to apply to become a PPG Approved Learning Centre and/or special rates for staff training.
For more information on membership, please click here.
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. These guidelines are intended to support 3 Core Competencies of Practice: (1) Confident Practice; (2) Authentic Leadership; (3) Professional Integrity. You can read more about these competencies on page 9 of our course prospectus here.
We are also community-focused and welcome student and practitioner engagement through our Positive Psychology Network. The network runs a member blog and is developing a member-oriented and peer-reviewed professional journal.
We consider the entire journey of becoming a Positive Psychology Practitioner, from studying and qualifying to the professional needs that inevitably arise during practice. For that reason, we also offer Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses.
From time to time, there are student and practitioner opportunities in our applied research initiatives under our Positive Psychology Centre. These initiatives include: (1) Violence & Post Traumatic Growth; (2) Mental Health & Wellbeing; (3) Somatics & Kinaesthetics.
Our staff are both neurodiverse and neurotypical, 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.
What else can I study with PPG?
Our 2021 course package includes a new range of Diplomas in Positive Psychology and Somatic Practice (level 5).
The courses are ideal for anyone who wishes to develop an existing Positive Psychology practice in the direction of movement, exercise, and/or sport, or acquire the knowledge needed to integrate Positive Psychology into an existing movement, exercise, and/or sport practice such as fitness instruction, personal training, and yoga, dance, or martial arts teaching.
The courses are also suitable for physical movement therapy practitioners such as physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, massage therapists, and other bodywork professionals.
The specialist diplomas are assessed through written exams, essays, and individual coursework that is oriented towards your current or future area of somatic practice. You are encouraged to pilot a new programme within this coursework.
Learning is self-paced and online. You will also be assigned a personal tutor throughout your studies who is a qualified Positive Psychology Practitioner with research and practice experience in movement, exercise, and/or sport.
A further Level 7 Diploma in Applied Positive Psychology Research is also available from 2021. This is for students who wish to acquire more advanced research skills and methods and lead a research project that can be translated into a professional practice.
The introductory fee for all specialist diplomas is £1650.
How can I apply?
If you wish to apply to any of the 2021 courses, please contact us for further information at: email@example.com
Please note you may start the 2020 Level 5 Positive Psychology in Practice studies at any time of the year.
To request an application form, please drop us a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For other course enquiry FAQs, please click here.