List of positive psychological coaching tools and techniques

Phase 1 Creating the Relationship

(Techniques of) Building relationships and establishing rapport.

Tools employed to develop a psychological contract between all stakeholders within the coaching process and to ensure a psychologically safe environment conducive to development (e.g., the SOLER technique by Egan, “facing the client squarely, displaying body language that can be considered open and inviting, leaning towards the client to display interest, ensuring eye-contact is made, and relaxing as to ensure a comforting climate is created for the coaching process”; or the technique to “Clarify expectations between coach and client.”)

(Tools) ARTS of communication: Ask first and listen, Respond with empathy, Teach your perspective, and Share decisions making to achieve collaborative solutions.

PEARLS: Partnership examples, Emotion/Empathy, Appreciation or apology, Respect, Legitimation, Support autonomy.

Focus on what is going right rather than what is going wrong.

Establishing a psychological contract.

Appreciative interviewing.

Awareness of the 10% 40% 50% principle.

Using curiosity to delve deeper into the client’s worldview.

Positive introduction exercise.

Other tools that build the basis of a good contract between coach and client include creating a calm and trusting environment, clarifying expectations, and presenting genuine unconditional positive regard. 

(Techniques of) Employing Micro-Skills (Active listening).

{This technique is utilized in each of the five phases and each of the continuous processes.}

These are coaching communication skills employed to aid clients in accessing their deepest thoughts, facilitate developing self-insight and create an environment conducive to change (e.g., Active listening).

(Tools) Framing questions in a positive, constructive manner (Positively Infused Language).

Active listening (attending behaviors, positive open questioning, paraphrasing and summarizing, noting and reflecting emotions, basic behavioral observation skills, nudging, and influencing).

Solution-building conversations.

Use affirmations to help the client more fully recognize and appreciate her effort, values, or achievement.

Continuous Process 1: Learning Transfer

(Techniques of) Employing Micro-Skills (Active listening).

(Techniques of) Encouraging Active Skill Development.

{This technique is also utilized in Phase 4: Goal setting, Strategizing, and Execution based on Strengths.}

Developmental interventions aimed at enhancing specific skills required to facilitate effective and efficient goal achievement.

(Tools) Social Competency Development to support positive relationships (expressing affection and liking, general conversation skills, forgiving, apologizing, listening, assertiveness, affirming, and problem-solving).

Learning to enhance relaxation responses in the face of stress (e.g., Diaphragmatic breathing and mindfulness practice).

Deliberate practice.

(Techniques of) Providing Self-Administered Intentional Activities.

{This technique is also utilized in Phase 4: Goal setting, Strategizing, and Execution based on Strengths.}

Providing clients with brief evidence-based positive psychological intervention strategies to aid in developing positive states, traits, and behaviors through encouraging deliberate practice outside the coaching sessions (e.g., Gratitude visit). These activities ensure the continuous transfer of insights into the client’s everyday life. Coaches choose from a wide range of exercises depending on the goals that are pursued.

(Tools) Gratitude visit. Writing letters of gratitude.

Counting one’s blessings. Three good things activity.

Daily savoring task.

Practicing optimism. Using an optimism-building exercise.

Performing acts of kindness.

Using one’s strengths in a new way.

Having a strengths date: choosing a companion and identifying as well as utilizing strengths together.

Creating a strengths family tree.

Affirming one’s most important values.

Writing a life summary.

Reflecting on the meaning of daily activities.

Meditating on one’s positive feelings toward self and others.

Visualizing ideal future selves. “Best possible self” activity.

Recommending books from positive psychology researchers.

Positive journaling. Keeping a gratitude journal.

String of pearls intervention.

Strengths-based journaling.

Generating a favor bank.

Practicing active, constructive responding.

Planning a day with a personally enjoyable activity or an altruistic activity.

(Techniques of) Resource Activation.

{This technique is also utilized in Phase 4: Goal setting, Strategizing, and Execution based on Strengths, and in Continuous Process 3: Empowerment.}

Guiding the client to rediscover and utilize existing but neglected personal, social, or environmental resources (e.g., social support networks and mentors) or energizing activities (e.g., reflecting upon past engaging activities).

(Tools) Exploring engaging activities.

Identifying areas of flow and practicing flow activities.

Identifying an expert friend who is doing well at handling the same challenges.

Phase 3 Developing an Ideal Vision

(Techniques of) Employing Micro-Skills (Active listening).

This phase utilizes the technique of Employing Micro-Skills (Active listening), which is being used from day one, and throughout each phase and each continuous process.

An especially relevant tool is the “Best possible self” exercise mentioned in the technique of Providing Self-Administered Intentional Activities; this exercise, when used outside the session, should be brought into the session for this phase and explored further with the guidance of the coach, building the primary intrinsic motivation for positive growth and change.

Phase 2 Strengths Profiling and Feedback

(Techniques of) Employing Micro-Skills (Active listening).

(Techniques of) Strength-Focused Psychometric Assessments.

{This technique is also utilized in Continuous Process 2: Action Tracking and Continuous Evaluation.}

Employing various forms of psychometric assessments, or simulation exercises, to identify the manifested strengths of the client (e.g., VIA Signature Strengths Inventory).

(Tools) Positive 360-degree evaluation.

VIA Signature Strengths Inventory.

Projective techniques.

Gallup CliftonStrengths Assessment.

Strengths Profile.

Assessing and tracking positive states, traits, and strengths.

(Techniques of) Assessing Personality, Wellbeing, and Work Preferences.

{This technique is also utilized in Continuous Process 2: Action Tracking and Continuous Evaluation.}

Psychometric instruments are employed to assess the client’s wellbeing, personality, and work preferences (e.g., BarOn EQ assessment).

(Tools) Diagnosing the position on the Languishing-Flourishing and Goal-Striving Framework.

Quality of Life Inventory.

BarOn Emotional Intelligence Assessment.

Positive Diagnosis: Identifying strengths, positive emotions, and meaning, examining what the solution looks like.

Belbin Leadership Roles.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

16 Factor Personality Index.

Satisfaction with Life Scale.

(Techniques of) Conducting Competency-based Assessments.

{This technique is also utilized in Continuous Process 2: Action Tracking and Continuous Evaluation.}

Assessing specific competencies aligned with the role of the client (e.g., Developing and assessing the client against a positive capability matrix).

(Tools) A positive capability matrix is comprised of strengths-based competencies (e.g., strategic visioning), experiences (e.g., career accolades), abilities (e.g., learning potential), and values (e.g., authenticity). Competencies and experiences are indicators of individual performance, whereas individual potential is estimated via ability and values.

Use of fit-for-purpose simulations, job shadowing, and debriefing as appropriate.

(Techniques of) Strengths Spotting.

Refers to tools centered around active, deliberate, and constructive attempts to identify the manifested strengths of oneself and others (e.g., Strengths Camera). This technique and the related tools are used to provide the client with the strengths vocabulary, diagnostic framework, and criteria needed to identify the strengths of oneself or others. For example, the positive introduction exercise asks the clients to describe themselves at their best based on events from the prior week and focus specifically on their strengths.

(Tools) Strengths-based interview.

The Strengths Camera (Strengths ID): Put a metaphorical personal strength or value “lens” on the camera and then indicate how effectively you have been utilizing that strength or implementing that value in the last 30 days.

Strengths Map: Map how strengths can be used to achieve goals.

(Techniques of) Cognitive Reframing.

{This technique is also utilized in Continuous Process 3: Empowerment.}

Tools employed to cognitively reframe negative experiences positively or problems as opportunities (e.g., Telling stories as a survivor rather than a victim). For example, an optimism-building exercise asks clients to reflect upon their lives and specific times when they did not succeed, or their plans were ruined; in the next step, clients have to reveal what good things resulted from these situations.

(Tools) Retell stories as survivors, not victims.

Finding 15 positive things about a person who has done something hurtful.

Reframe Failures into Learning Opportunities.

Appreciative interviewing.

Pivoting: the conscious act of turning attention from what the client does not want to what she wants.

Teaching the Client how to Reframe situations (look for the positive).

(Techniques of) Guided Self-Reflection.

{This technique is also utilized in Continuous Process 3: Empowerment.}

Employing validated tools to aid the client in systematically discovering her potentials, strengths, or solutions to manifested problems. Insights are developed with the active involvement and guidance of the coach (e.g., History of the Future Exercise).

(Tools) Sense checking – status checking.

Reflect upon previous achievements and accomplishments.

Appreciative questions to encourage individuals to relive past events where they felt hopeful.

“Developing a history of the future” to help clients describe their picture of success by identifying their legacy.

Envision herself in the shoes of a mentor she emulates.

BEARS (barriers to change, evidence of behavior and overcoming barriers, resources needed for success, and strengths a client can draw upon).

Change, specific actions to accomplish the dream.

Reflecting on the purpose of positive emotion.

Raising awareness for the contribution of all valued life areas for the client’s overall wellbeing and including these areas in the life priorities.

Awareness of the “accept, change, or leave principle.”

Reflecting on past failures while attributing them externally.

Reflecting on past successes while attributing them internally.

Reflecting on how problems were solved in the past.

Values from a list: sorting a deck of value cards.

Continuous Process 3: Empowerment

(Techniques of) Employing Micro-Skills (Active listening).

(Techniques of) Resource Activation.

(Techniques of) Cognitive Reframing.

(Techniques of) Guided Self-Reflection.

(Techniques of) Managing Difficult Emotions.

{This technique is also utilized in Phase 4: Goal setting, Strategizing, and Execution based on Strengths.}

Techniques employed in managing destructive or negative emotions (e.g., practicing mindful awareness).

(Tools) Using metaphors to clarify points.

Employ expressive writing to draw out emotions.

Employ Loving Kindness Meditation.

Practicing appreciative and expressive communication skills.

Focus on solutions, not on emotion.

Practice mindful awareness.

Employ strengths to buffer negative emotions.

Develop stress management methods.

Make lifestyle changes.

Parallel processing. Using the relationship between the coach and client to highlight what’s going on in “real life.”

Continuous Process 2: Action Tracking and Continuous Evaluation

(Techniques of) Employing Micro-Skills (Active listening).

(Techniques of) Strength-Focused Psychometric Assessments.

(Techniques of) Assessing Personality, Wellbeing, and Work Preferences.

(Techniques of) Conducting Competency-based Assessments.

(Techniques of) Evaluating Progress.

{This technique is also utilized in Phase 5: Concluding Relationship or Re-Contracting.}

Tools employed to evaluate the client’s developmental and goal achievement progress throughout the coaching process (e.g., coaching logbook to revisit expectations at regular intervals).

(Tools) Coaching log (record keeping).

Map development over time, based on the Action Tracker.

Measure Life Satisfaction monthly.

Phase 5: Concluding Relationship or Re-Contracting

(Techniques of) Employing Micro-Skills (Active listening).

(Techniques of) Evaluating Progress.

(Techniques of) Re-Contracting.

A technique used to reflect upon and evaluate the effectiveness of the coaching intervention at the end of the process to determine if further development is required/needed.

(Tools) Re-contract relationship after completion of goals.

Phase 4: Goal setting, Strategizing, and Execution based on Strengths

(Techniques of) Employing Micro-Skills (Active listening).

(Techniques of) Encouraging Active Skill Development.

(Techniques of) Providing Self-Administered Intentional Activities.

(Techniques of) Resource Activation.

(Techniques of) Managing Difficult Emotions.

(Techniques of) Meaning Making.

A technique used to aid clients in crafting meaningful work experiences (e.g., job crafting).

(Tools) Job-crafting.

(Techniques of) Goal Setting.

Tools that aim to translate the client’s desired positive end state (or Dream) into actionable, achievable short- and long-term goals in different life domains (e.g., SMART goals).

(Tools) Applying the CASIO brainstorming strategy.

Using the Wheel of Life domains as a Brainstorming framework.

Set Smart Goals and Objectives.

Set two value-informed, achievable, long-term, and short-term approach-type goals in different life areas.

Translating values into observable action steps.

Mind maps to aid in goal setting and strength clarification.

Developing a shared future vision.

(Techniques of) Strengths Utilization and Development.

Explore how clients’ strengths could be intentionally activated both at home and at work. The focus is on deliberate strengths use to attain goals or to address developmental areas.

(Tools) Explore new ways to use strengths.

Asking clients to use their top strengths in new ways for one week.

Developing a plan for intentionally using strengths in the service of something or someone valued.

(Techniques of) Creating a Personal Development Plan.

It is a strategic personal/professional development map that translates strength development, developmental needs, and personal/professional goals into an actionable, implementable, and trackable operational strategy (e.g., The Appreciative Inquiry Framework). The plan highlights the clients’ ideal vision of their desired future, areas of strength and developmental areas, as well as specific competencies that clients present.

(Tools) Help the client develop a plan for reaching her goals, and then help her implement the plan and adapt it over time if needed.

Developing an action plan on how to build relationships and with whom.

Developing a Strategy for developing competencies.

Identify specific competencies to develop to effectively manage the presented challenges or highlight the personal/professional goal the client wants to achieve.

Develop an Action Plan to achieve goals.

Determine resources needed.

Determine how success will be measured and implement an action tracker.