Coaching and positive psychology

In 2001 I completed an 18-month coach training program which helped turn the course of my clinical career. In the 90’s I was trained very traditionally as a psychodynamically-oriented, family systems informed therapist. At the time I found the training and the clinical work very challenging and helpful to my clients, but something changed inside of me.

I had been working part-time in private practice and part-time for a local health management organization, and little by little, I was feeling more burnt out. I knew I needed to leave the HMO but didn’t know exactly how or when to do it. I saw an announcement for a 1-day seminar on the principles of coaching given by a Southern California psychologist, and the light bulb went on. Coaching encompassed theories including Rogers, Adler, and Maslow, and it focused on strengths and resources rather than deficits. This newly-coined theory called Positive Psychology was a breath of fresh air that didn’t replace my former theoretical orientation but complemented it seamlessly.

I then met Sandra “Sam” Foster, PhD who taught a class on Peak Performance, and immediately I felt that Sam was speaking my language in an inspirational and clinically-sound way. I asked Sam if she would be my coach which was part of the requirements of the program, and her influence has stayed with me to this day. Not only did she believe in me in ways I couldn’t believe in myself, but she helped me open creative doors that I never imagined. In 2004 she helped me envision a workbook which became a reality years later (“From Now On: Seven Keys to Purposeful Recovery”).

This weekend I’m fortunate enough to be traveling to Asheville, North Carolina to work with Sam once again as I give shape and voice to my current book project (more details to follow!) In my 27-year career I’ve been blessed with a few fantastic mentors including Sam. And in turn, I also get to give back what I’ve been given.

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