Coaching psychology is an emerging approach being used for the development of wellbeing and resilience with young people. This has become increasingly important due to the rise in mental health problems that young people are facing. Positive psychology is the science of wellbeing which as an applied psychology provides a range of proactive wellbeing strategies that can be used to help the development of mental wellbeing.  Positive Psychology gives coaching a range of evidence-based practices, with a focus on three main areas the increase of wellbeing, achievement and resilience. Supporting the development of wellbeing is key to preventing the onset of mental health problems in young people which can have a devastating and life long impact.

Using coaching to empower young people to develop the skills needed to maintain their wellbeing could be one of the most powerful potential applications of coaching psychology.”

Bishop, L (2017)

How can Coaching Help with a Young Person’s Wellbeing?

The Mental Health Foundation (2015) describes wellbeing as “how satisfied people are with their life as a whole, their sense of purpose, and how in control they feel”. In field of positive psychology this is known as flourishing, it is important that we support young people to move towards flourishing to prevent the onset of mental health problems, studies have found that any young person who is not flourishing is at risk of developing a mental health problem. (Howell, Keyes, & Passmore 2013). We will look at these three aspects of wellbeing that are developed through coaching.

Coaching for Life Satisfaction

A key part of developing life satisfaction is to be accepting of how circumstances are. Once we stop pretending, denying, or escaping our situation and begin to acknowledge what we can’t change now, we can start to plot our journey to another place. Imagine you were in Brighton, but you were attached to the idea that you were in Newcastle. If you tried to travel to London you would end up deep in the English Channel! We often cling to the notion that life satisfaction is somewhere out there that we can get to if only we get the dream job, or meet the perfect partner. We are capable of finding satisfaction in the most challenging of environments. As the eminent Psychiatrist Viktor Frankyl (2008), who survived the Nazi concentration camps put “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”.

The inquiry process of Coaching can help us to challenge assumptions about how life is and shine a light on the things for which we can be grateful. Pritchard & van Nieuwerburgh’s (2016, P65) interpretation of findings from their study included that participants “were able to reframe their world view and see things through different tinted glasses”. The process of coaching helps young people to find the areas of their life they find satisfying to set goals and keep up motivation levels that help them maintain life satisfaction. Findings from Robson-Kelly & van Nieuwerburgh (2016, P87) also highlighted how coaching can help young people develop life satisfaction

I’ve got more motivation to proceed on in life’
‘I set my goal for the day that’s gonna make me happy’  
‘it makes you feel more positive about the future’

Coaching for Purpose

Both the coaching relationship and the skills and strategies gained from coaching offer “a chance for young people to develop meaning as well as relationships, essential for developing multidimensional wellbeing” (Robson-Kelly & van Nieuwerburgh, 2016, P87).

When we have a strong sense of purpose we discover that we bring value to our lives by bringing value to the lives of others. Humans only evolved to be human by contributing to one-another. We all have a unique set of strengths and attributes that fits a need in the world. Finding purpose is a continuous process of reflection and action, a balance between what we know we are good at and responding to the demand for our strengths in the world. It could begin with a friend, or role-model being impressed by an artwork we create, or piece of code we write and become a vocation, career, or hobby.

Coaching is grounded in accountability. As coaches we help people identify these strengths, the moments where they provide value for others and support and encourage as they take action steps to expand their circle of purpose.

Coaching for Feeling in Control

The Coaching relationship is based on both parties working together as equals. Coaching is led by the young person’s desired outcomes and nurtured and guided by the Coach. This can form fertile compost for the young person to grow, by controlling their own choices and development (Robson-Kelly & van Nieuwerburgh, 2016, P85). Life control can be relatively unfamiliar for young people in particular, who spend much of their time in compulsory education and whose lives out of school may be, to a varying extent, controlled by parental figures.

“Through the experience of coaching, young people develop accountability, awareness and increased choice and control over their thoughts, feelings and behaviour. This results in the ability to manage situations, improve confidence and feelings of wellbeing.”

 (Robson-Kelly & van Nieuwerburgh, 2016, P85)

Want to know more about Coaching Young People?

Watch our YouTube video's to find out more about Coaching and how it helps young people.

Applying Positive Psychology Coaching to Support Young People

Coaching combined with positive psychology to support the development of wellbeing and prevent the development of mental health problems is something we are leading at Worth-it. Coaching for young people is starting to be used in addition or as an alternative to counselling or mentoring in a range of school or community settings that want to increase access to early prevention for young people.

Our approach is based on the academic research and 12 years of applied practice of our CEO Liz Robson-Kelly mentioned in this article. Since we started using the approach in 2011, we have seen a growth in use and awareness. We want to increase the ability for many more young people to access coaching that improves their wellbeing and supports them to be resilient.

If you are interested in finding out more how you can use coaching to support young people, download our Coaching Webinar Series or take a look at our Coach Training course.

References

Bishop, L.The Coaching Psychologist, Vol. 14, No. 1, June 2017

Frankyl, V. E.(2008). Man's Search for Meaning: An introduction to logotherapy (6th ed.). Simon & Schuster.

Howell, A.J., Keyes, C.L., & Passmore, H. (2013). Flourishing Among Children and Adolescents: Structure and Correlates of Positive Mental Health, and Interventions for Its Enhancement.

Mental Health Foundation. (2015, July 20). What is wellbeing, how can we measure it and how can we support people to improve it? Mentalhealth.org.uk. Retrieved January 27, 2021, here

Pritchard, M.,& van Nieuwerburgh, C. (2016, March). The perceptual changes in life experience of at-risk adolescent girls following an integrated coaching and positive psychology intervention group programme: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. International Coaching Psychology Review, 11(1),57 - 74.

Robson-Kelly,L., & van Nieuwerburgh, C. (2016, March). What does coaching have to offer to young people at risk of developing mental health problems? A grounded theory study. International Coaching Psychology Review, 11(1), 75 - 92.

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