Meet our Alumni

Petra Walker

CPsychol, MA(Oxon), MSc. Psych, MSc (MAPPCP) is a Chartered Coaching Psychologist, researcher, speaker and writer, specialising in Positive Psychology Coaching

She is also an IPPC Faculty Member as well as the Program and Assessment Coordinator. Petra is a graduate of IPPC’s Diploma program in Applied Positive Psychology Coaching and is a Certified Applied Positive Psychology Coach (CAPPC).

Q: Tell us briefly about yourself, your professional background, and what drew you to the IPPC’s applied positive psychology coaching program?

I have been a coach since 2003, and have started to add evidence-based psychological models to my practice since 2011. In 2021 I completed a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology (with distinction) and started to think of myself as a Coaching Psychology Practitioner. When I first heard of the IPPC diploma in Positive Psychology Coaching I didn’t think it would add to my knowledge, but I was curious, so I channeled my love of learning into the first program.

I realized that although I already had both the positive psychology and coaching psychology knowledge, actually applying it coherently was something I could improve on. Starting (and finishing) this program has helped me fill that gap in my coaching practice.

I was drawn to the IPPC program because I knew the course leaders were all coaching professionals or researchers in the field they were teaching. They all have a real passion for their subject and this is evident in their delivery.

Q: What insights, change or transformation did you experience during the program, and how has it impacted you, your wellbeing, and coaching practice?

I transformed from being a coach who knew a lot about positive psychology and about coaching, and who applied some of this in my practice – I called it “coaching, informed by positive psychology” – to a coach who is confident in calling myself a Positive Psychology Coach.

The coaching practice and feedback I received really embedded my applied knowledge of PPC, and expanded my knowledge base, meaning my coaching sessions attained a coherent structure, my confidence in weaving aspects of positive psychology into my coaching increased and, in Level 2, I started to really develop my niche and gained insight into which of my values and strengths I could leverage to develop the business I really wanted to have.

Alongside this increased professional confidence, I improved my own wellbeing by trying out all the coaching exercises and tools myself before I applied them with clients. So that really was a Win Win situation!

Q: Describe your coaching practice today as a result of completing the IPPC’s applied positive psychology coaching program.

I am a Chartered Coaching Psychologist, specializing in Positive Psychology Coaching and Leadership Development. I work mainly with female business owners and managers to facilitate change, and maintain their wellbeing in times of high stress and disruption. I offer one-to-one coaching sessions, and workshops focused on wellbeing, strengths use and resilience for organizations. I also supervise and mentor coaches who are looking to become accredited with ICF, EMCC, AC and the BPS.

Part of my business is to work as an Associate Coach supporting leaders and aspiring leaders on leadership development programmes. This often involves working with people under enormous pressure, and my understanding of how positive psychology coaching can help these clients stay motivated and resilient is an important part of the role I play in their continuing professional development.

I am also in a unique position, as I not only was in the first cohort of the IPPC, but I also joined the team, using my experience and knowledge to take on the role of Program and Assessment Coordinator and Course Leader for the Science of Wellbeing for Positive Psychology Coaching course. I now work closely with the other faculty to listen to our students, improve our courses, expand our offering and ensure our student assessments are graded accurately, while helping our students to gain new insight into Positive Psychology Coaching.

This experience has also led to me being invited to become a Research Supervisor for the MAPPCP programme at the University of East London.

Q: Please provide an example or case study of how you are uniquely expressing applied positive psychology coaching in your own practice?

My client initially presented with wanting to work on a business plan, which should have been a straightforward behavioral coaching session, but as she talked about her business, she mentioned a book writing project. When she talked about this, she lit up with a previously unseen passion. I intuitively asked if she might want to look at that first.

This topic was clearly one of wellbeing as her lack of confidence over the project was causing stress in other parts of her business, creating blocks for her creativity, and negatively affecting her family relationships.

Although writing appears task-focused, involving setting goals around numbers of words per day, I used a solution focused approach around the goal of finishing her book to increase her self-confidence The act of writing gave her a meaning and purpose, was an activity she enjoyed and was one that fully engaged her. Positive emotions, engagement, meaning and achievement are four of the five pillars of Seligman’s PERMA model of wellbeing, so I was consciously capitalising on this to improve her wellbeing while simultaneously working towards her long-held goal.

Following the IPPC Integrated model, I asked questions that helped her increase her psychological capital (her hope, self-efficacy and optimism). This had the effect of increasing her personal resources and resilience that in turn increased her motivation and engagement with the task, as she found ways around the obstacles that got in the way of her writing. By focusing on her strengths, she was able to choose which ones she could leverage best to keep going and to recognize when she might be overusing love of learning to procrastinate, or underusing her self-kindness when she was tired and needed to rest, so that she did not become stressed or demotivated when she was unable to achieve the desired word count.

So that was then. Today she is a published author, with a book high up the Amazon lists.

Q: What advice do you have for other coaches interested in positive psychology coaching and the IPPC’s program?

Move out of your comfort zone, expand your horizons, and give it a go. I have more than covered the cost of the training and now really feel confident that I can deliver Positive Psychology Coaching to my clients. I believe that this helps me to differentiate myself from other coaches at a time when wellbeing is so important.

In addition to the Certificate and Diploma level courses, there are also Enrichment courses and workshops that allow you to expand your knowledge in a number of different areas, all with wellbeing in mind.

The IPPC offers ICF-accredited, evidence-based, advanced training and business development leading to a diploma and designation as a Certified Applied Positive Psychology Coach (CAPPC). Get started here.