Physician coaching research pearl: Learned Optimism

in Physician Coaching Insights

For several coaching competencies we teach in our Certified Physician Development Coach™ program, we delve into the supporting research on either coaching or physician coaching. Recently the topic was about how to coach clients who are reverberating with a self-limiting belief, and how a particular coaching process they are learning is aligned with the research on Learned Optimism (Seligman 2006).

In the Certified Physician Development Coach™ program, our coaching students learn to coach a process we developed called the
Intention Statement. This is a framework that support clients in recasting their self-limiting “story” into one that is authentic, powerful, and forward-looking. The techique is informed by the research on Learned Optimism, and the process is one that physician clients find enormously beneficial.

In a nutshell, here is what the research on Learned Optimism tells us: Optimistic people are defined as people who view setbacks as temporary, changeable and local. Pessimistic people view setbacks as permanent, unchangeable and pervasive.

Why does that matter?

Optimists are higher achievers and have better overall health (Peterson and Seligman, 1984).

Learned Optimism begins by consciously challenging any negative self-talk (Seligman, Learned Optimism, 1990).

This is where coaching comes in! A skilled coach notices when the language and attitude of a client is self-defeating and will then respectfully invite the client to explore what is possible.

It may seem like a trivial technique and process. However, in our experience, many physician clients are weighed down with a negative self-limiting belief that is getting in he way of them achieving what they want in life or work.

Walking a client through the Intention Statement coaching process, which is a coaching application of Learned Optimism research, serves to loop the client out of pessimism and into an optimistic realm of possibility.

The research on Learned Optimism is a subset of a larger body of research in the field of Positive Pyschology, which informs coaching in general.

We invite to learn more about our curriculum and methodology by attending an Information Webinar, or by setting up a 1-1 with Executive Director, Dr. Francine Gaillour to ask questions.

Coaching has enormous potential for making a meaningful impact on the lives of our colleagues. We look forward to supporting your development!