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 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 practice, those who wish to progress to our Diploma in Applied Research in Positive Psychology (level 7), and those who want to study the subject without the intention of practicing.

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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 someone qualified in Positive Psychology as a scientific research area and translates this knowledge into an evidence-based practice using a professional skill or set of skills. They also take care of themselves, their own wellbeing needs, and their potential 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 may support individuals, trainers may support groups, and facilitators may support policy and practice at work.

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.

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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, we seek to add value and meaning to our students’ overall diploma experience.

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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.

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Diploma Overview

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 Certificate 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:

  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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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 questions.

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Our 2020 fees are as follows:

  • Certificate in Positive Psychology Fundamentals: £950
  • Diploma in Positive Psychology in Practice (one pathway): £2,450
  • Accelerated route 1: £950 (module 1) + £250 x 2 (modules 2 and 3, assignments only) = £1,450
  • Accelerated route 2: £725 + £725 (modules 2 and 3 only) = £1,450*
  • Accelerated route 3: £250 + £250 (modules 2 and 3, assignments only) = £500*
  • Multiple pathways x 3: £3,950
  • Multiple pathways x 2: £2,450 + £495 x 2 (modules 2 and 3 of second pathway): £3,440

*Please note that if you need to study any particular units for module 1, each unit costs a further £150.

If you are not sure of your pathway fee, please drop us a line at: training@ppnetwork.org

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Do you offer concession rates?

Yes, we do. As a non-profit entity, we are keen to make our courses available to people who may be disadvantaged or experiencing difficult or uncertain times with their finances. For example, you may be experiencing unemployment or be on a low wage.

If this describes your situation, you may apply for a 50% concession on all of the above 2020 rates. Please contact us directly for a concession application form at: training@ppnetwork.org

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Do you offer scholarships?

Yes, we do. We currently have the capacity to offer on 2 full scholarships on any of the above 2020 courses subject to entry criteria.

If you wish to make a positive difference in the world through Positive Psychology, and cannot afford the course, please contact us directly for a scholarship application form at: training@ppnetwork.org

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As a non-profit, do you accept donations?

Yes, we do. If you wish to fund any of our student scholarships or concession rates by donation as an individual, organisation, or company, please contact us at: training@ppnetwork.org

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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: training@ppnetwork.org

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What are the benefits of studying with PPG?

Yes! Alongside running professional courses on Positive Psychology, we also serve as a professional membership body. We offer 5 levels of membership: (1) Student (free); (2) Associate / Level 3 (free); (3) Professional / Level 5 (£150/year); (4) Fellow / Level 7+ (£150/year); (5) Organisational (£500/2 years for small organisations).

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 entry to the PPG Register of Professionals, which runs an annual knowledge assessment test and supervision process designed to support your growth and achievement as a professional.

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.

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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. 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 a community-driven entity and welcome student and practitioner engagement through our Positive Psychology Network. The network runs a member blog and is developing a member-driven and peer-reviewed 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, a Community of Practice, and student/practitioner opportunities in our applied research initiatives.

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

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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).

These diplomas offer 3 specialisations: (1) Positive Psychology and Movement; (2) Positive Psychology and Exercise; (3) Positive Psychology and Sport.

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 will be 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.

The introductory fee is £1600 (valid until 1st June 2021). As a graduate of one of our Positive Psychology in Practice diplomas, you are also eligible for a further 10% discount.

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CPD courses available from 2021 also include:

  • The Psychology & Practice of Creativity
  • The Psychology & Practice of Leadership
  • The Psychology & Practice of Teamwork
  • The Psychology & Practice of Compassion
  • The Psychology & Practice of Mindfulness
  • The Psychology & Practice of Meditation

These practitioner-oriented courses each cost £250. You will complete a reflective log, literature review, and individual coursework that is oriented towards your current Positive Psychology in Practice area.

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How can I apply?

You may start your studies at any time of the year.

To apply, please drop us a line at: training@ppnetwork.org

Alternatively, please download a course application form below:

PPG Course Application Form

For other course enquiry FAQs, please click here.