American Positive Psychology Association and Accredited Schools

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Garp, Mar 19, 2022.

  1. laferney

    laferney Active Member

    The MAPP at Penn is very statistics and research oriented. One of the complaints in the Coursera Foundations 5 course specialization is that it is too research and statistically oriented.{ For MOOCS) One of the 5 courses is all on statistic and research and there is a research project done in the final course. Positive psychology can be a great niche for those licensed mental health professionals but it is being used in the military, business and many different applications. Seligman and Chris Peterson created a new model based on research to define metal illness differently than done in the DSM. Some people are calling themselves Positive psychology coaches as they are using its principles but are not therapists or licensed. They may work in business to improve happiness or productivity in the work place. Similar to to I/O psychologists. In the military to to increase /teach resilience. Just as in other areas of psychology some do research, teach, and some use clinically or educationally to aid others.
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I don't understand the "loophole" designation. The vast majority of professions and occupations are not licensed.

    However, many professions have professional bodies--societies--that set standards, advance practice, and admit people to certifications based on skill, knowledge, and/or experience. Coaching is one of those.

    Anyone can call him or herself a project manager, for example. But the Project Management Institute (PMI) exists to set standards for that field, advance its practice, and admit people to its various certifications--like the Project Management Professional, or PMP.

    Likewise, coaching has the International Coaching Federation (ICF). While anyone can call him/herself a "coach," the ICF--like the PMI--sets standards for coaching, advances its practice, and has standards for admitting people to its different levels of certification: the Associate Certified Coach, the Professional Certified Coach, and the Master Certified Coach. The ICF does not, as of yet, make distinctions around types of coaching (life, career, business, wellness, leadership, etc.). Coaching is also distinct from therapy and, thus, from psychology, counseling, etc.

    I have no particular take on positive psychology vis-a-vis other forms of psychology. But coaching is a profession, not a "loophole."

    (NB: I have been a practicing coach for several years and hold the Professional Certified Coach certification from ICF.)
    JBjunior likes this.
  3. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    I think the implication is that people will adopt the title Life Coach, with or without actual coaching credentials, and then attempt to provide counseling to people under the guise of coaching even though those are distinct professions. I don't know if this actually happens with any regularity.
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  4. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    That's very true. I don't know how often this particular guise is used. I DO know, that if a person asks for help - of any kind - they should be perspicacious about whom they ask. Many unqualified, some of them rogues and rascals, are ready 24/7 to answer the call.
    Getting back to Rich's question about "the loophole." I'm not trying to speak for sanantone here - she's the person who used the word and I'll defer to her, on any of this. A loophole is a provision - or sometimes lack of a written one - that allows or legitimizes some action or conduct that would be against the rules, without the provision or lack.

    In this case (life coaching) a person can use positive psychology in their unlicensed coaching practice, without being a licensed psychologist. That - not the coaching profession itself - is a loophole. The double-whammy is: there is no specific license for positive psychology. Not even for guys with two doctorates. The coaches can use a psychological discipline that even trained psychologists can't be specifically licensed for.

    On the face of it, it seems the unlicensed life coach's occupation (not a loophole in itself) facilitates a loophole into things that are the realm of professional psychologists - and other things even they cannot be licensed for - although I'm pretty sure they (licensed psychologists in general) could apply a fair bit of positive psychology technique, if they thought it expedient and effective in a patient's particular circumstances.

    OK. the correction booth is open. One at a time, please...

    It's a riddle - a paradox. This calls for protection. May I suggest a conundrum? :)
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2022
  5. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Excuse me. Gender equality. That's rogues / roguesses, rascals / rascalettes. :)
  6. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    This is precisely why the coaching profession makes clear distinctions between therapy and coaching. We do the latter, leaving the former to licensed professionals--or quacks.

    A simple, but useful distinction: therapy focuses on fixing what's wrong. Coaches team with their clients to reach their (the clients') goals. We don't do therapy.

    My question about "loophole" wasn't to gain a generic definition, which I clearly understood. Rather, it was to try to understand how it could be applied in this situation, which my previous post addressed.
  7. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Understood. Thanks, Rich.
  8. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    ALL coaches are "unlicensed," so the distinction is without a difference. Almost all professions and occupations are unlicensed, including coaching. Same with project managers, systems engineers, facilitators, trainers, instructional designers, garbagemen, bartenders, and people running the Apple Genius Bar.

    I like the fact that many professions have formed certifying bodies. It's an interesting form of self-regulation, like accreditation. In coaching, schools can be accredited by ICF. In project management, schools can be recognized by PMI as Registered Education Providers. But in talent development, their (our) professional body doesn't accredit talent development programs, but it DOES certify talent development professionals. (I am one.) HR is the same way, certifying individuals (I'm one there, too) but not programs.

    In my opinion, most--but not all--governmental licensure has much more to do with protecting the public than it does with the issues consistent with professional societies--advancing practice, for example. Even in those areas we see professional bodies and accrediting bodies functioning beyond governmental licensure.

    The 3rd edition of the ATD Handbook is coming out in May. It will have a chapter on credentialing, which will cover degrees, certifications, and certificates. I have this on very good authority.
  9. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Not among certified coaches. We have a strong code of ethics and our training makes clear distinctions between coaching and therapy, and it doesn't arise as an issue amongst practitioners. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen, and I certainly can't speak for non-certified coaches.
    Countertenor likes this.
  10. laferney

    laferney Active Member

    Coaching is as Rich stated a profession that helps people reach their potential. There are professional organization that certify coaching professionals There are several Positive psychology coaching training courses and certifications. For a good overview of what positive psychology coaching is a, what they do and a list of programs go to:
    Johann likes this.
  11. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    There is one research methods course and no statistics courses. At the most, students are getting a brief overview of quantitative research methods. Many non-research graduate programs have capstones. Some capstones are just literature reviews or case studies. Other capstones will involve solving an organizational problem. Then, there are master's capstones that are more like theses, but they can be qualitative or quantitative, and quantitative research doesn't always require advanced knowledge of statistics. It could have descriptive statistics.

    This program is the one outlier I saw among positive psychology programs; it has extensive statistics training.

    After looking at the curricula for multiple positive psychology programs, I can see there isn't a consensus on what these programs should cover. Indiana Wesleyan University's program mirrors a general psychology program; the course names just have "positive" tacked on to them. Claremont Graduate University is a little different because they have two positive psychology programs that explicitly focus on specific areas: health psychology and organizational psychology. Biola University's program is organizational psychology. Life University's programs look more like UPenn's.

    It's similar to the pastoral counseling loophole, except that it's easier to break the law with pastoral counseling if you're practicing outside of a religious organization. I've seen life coaches do the same work as marriage and family therapists. Should they be counseling families dealing with mental health problems and/or a history of abuse? I guess it's up to someone's personal opinion, but you are getting into healthcare territory. There are many life coaches popping up now providing relationship "coaching." This isn't like career coaching or sports coaching.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2022
    Jonathan Whatley likes this.
  12. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    For UPenn's capstone, you can write a book or book proposal, business plan, curriculum, an empirical study, a literature review, thesis, workshop, or some other alternative format.
  13. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    This is why the ICF is both adamant about this and why it includes legitimate life coaching in its purview.

    The real distinctions are between therapy and coaching, regardless of the flavor.
  14. Jan

    Jan Member

    Rich Douglas: "A simple, but useful distinction: therapy focuses on fixing what's wrong. Coaches team with their clients to reach their (the clients') goals. We don't do therapy."

    JAN: Rich, your "simple" distinction between coaching and therapy is incorrect. Licensed therapists assist clients in managing personal/psychological issues of varying degrees of severity, that are interfering with some aspect(s) of their lives. In addition, based on this therapeutic alliance, and agreed upon therapy/treatment objectives, therapists can and do provide collaborative coaching and support to enhance attainment of clients' goals.
  15. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Looks like a therapist can fix things and coach. A coach can only coach - people who don't need fixing. And not every coach may know who needs fixing and who doesn't. A field like this, unregulated as it is, is a minefield, for vulnerable clients. A potential Kandahar of the "helping" arts.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2022
    JoshD likes this.
  16. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    For all of the attempts people make to explain Coaching it really does bleed over into counseling and Counselors do what Coaches do. In fact, many forms of Counseling or Psychotherapy (paradigms) work in similar ways to what Coaches claim to do. What Coaches are not supposed to do is treat pathology. They shouldn't be trying to "treat" Schizophrenia or Eating Disorders such as Anorexia and so on.

    Coaching is an unregulated field so someone who always wanted to be Frasier but only has a high school diploma can set themselves up as a "Life Coach". They even specialize as Marriage and Family Coaches and there are Recovery Coaches (addiction) that skirt areas where there are licensed professionals. There are a number of Coaching Associations of varying quality that will certify or Board certify people. The problem in some of this is that Coaches don't know what they don't know and without degrees and training can be detrimental to clients.

    Some Psychotherapists have also gone into Coaching in their practice in order to add a niche that may be perceived as less stigmatizing than going for Counseling.
  17. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I share that opinion. And sometimes, it's even worse when it comes to "coaches" who DO have degrees - e.g six-month PhDs from some Trans-Dimensional Spirit University of Mendocino County, etc. All coaches are not alike. Especially in qualifications.
    Whatever works. Better than coaches who dabble in Psychotherapy - or are unaware of, or ignore their clients' need for it.
  18. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Are you trained as a coach? I am. Are you an ICF-certified coach? I am.

    As far as the practice of coaching within the profession, you're wrong. I can't account for every single individual out there, but as a professional society, we do not counsel, we do not conduct therapy. In fact, we're trained specifically not to, and to ask that clients who need that to seek it out from a licensed professional.

    In the 100-or-so coaching clients I've had over the years, I've had exactly ONE who might have needed that kind of help. I say "might" because I'm not trained or licensed to make that call. But what I DID know was she was unwilling to work towards her stated goals and that I could not help her further.

    For a board that is focused on credentials, it's amazing how quickly some posters who do not have such credentials rush to ignore the ones other posters hold--credentials that might add preponderance to their statements.

    You just smeared tens of thousands of professionals with this ungrounded assertion. Yes, someone could do that. But it isn't generally done, and certainly not among the more-than-33,000 coaches who hold one of ICF's three certifications.

    Instead of making ungrounded assertions, try doing what a trained coach would do: ask a good question. You might get a different answer than the one in your head.
  19. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I don't see how what I posted was wrong. I like your description of what therapists do, though. Except....

    You should listen to therapists who have gone on to become trained and certified coaches. They make clear distinctions about what they learned and are able to do as coaches that is beyond the scope of their therapeutic practices. I'm not qualified to describe it in meaningful detail; I'm not a therapist.
  20. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Do you have evidence of this?

    First, coaches do not work in harmful (or potentially harmful) areas. Second, in order to become a certified coach, one must complete coaching training, supervised/mentored coaching, an examination, and have at least 100 hours of coaching experience (75 of which must be paid). And that's just for the first level of certification.

    We know what we don't know because we're specifically trained to know our professional limits. However....

    Coaching is not--like almost all occupations and professions--regulated by governmental licensure. That means anyone--even posters on this mighty board--can create hypothetical disaster stories about frauds and people doing harm. There are probably examples of this, too. But if you--or anyone else--has actual evidence that this is a problem with the coaching profession, I'd welcome it.

Share This Page