Positive Psychological Coaching Definitions and Models: A Systematic Literature Review

Llewellyn E. VAN ZYL*, Lara C. ROLL, Marius W. STANDER, Stefanie RICHTER

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the popularity of the term Positive Psychological Coaching within the literature, there is no consensus as to how it should be defined (framed) or what the components of a positive coaching “model” should include. The aim of this systematic review was to define positive psychological coaching and to construct a clear demarcated positive psychological coaching model based on the literature. A systematic literature review led to the extraction of 2,252 records. All records were screened using specific inclusion/exclusion criteria, which resulted in the exclusion of records based on duplicates (n = 1,232), titles (n = 895), abstracts (n = 78), and criteria violations (n = 23). Twenty-four academic, peer-reviewed publications on positive psychological coaching were included. Data relating to conceptual definitions and coaching models/phases/frameworks were extracted and processed through thematic content analysis. Our results indicate that positive psychological coaching can be defined as a short to medium term professional, collaborative relationship between a client and coach, aimed at the identification, utilization, optimization, and development of personal strengths and resources in order to enhance positive states, traits and behaviors. Utilizing Socratic goal setting and positive psychological evidence-based approaches to facilitate personal growth, optimal functioning, enhanced wellbeing, and the actualization of people's potential. Further, eight critical components of a positive psychological coaching model were identified and discussed. The definition and coaching process identified in this study will provide coaches with a fundamental positive psychological framework for optimizing people's potential.
Original languageEnglish
Article number793
Number of pages19
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2020

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by the Optentia Research Programme of the North-West University as well as the National Research Foundation’s Rated Researcher Incentive Fund (IFR170123217004). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


  • positive psychological coaching
  • coaching psychology
  • strengths-based coaching
  • positive psychological interventions
  • coaching model
  • positive organizational interventions
  • performance enhancement


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