SPEN spoke with Claire Ong to discuss her aspirations in Positive Psychology and understand her work with The Positive Movement, an organization that specializes in the application of Positive Psychology and Ontological Coaching to enhance wellbeing in individuals and their organizations through a holistic approach that focuses on the body, emotions and language. Several years ago, Claire and co-founder Donna came together to combine their Psychology and Management Consulting expertise to start an organization that would help people and organizations discover how to thrive and uncover what it takes to drive real and sustainable change within themselves and through the organization.
“The formation of the Positive Movement stemmed from a personal struggle. We realized how well equipped we were academically, but not so much with skills to help us handle relationships, stress, building better friendships and self-esteem. We were curious about these skills that are intangible but necessary to provide a better quality of life.” Claire said.
According to her, the Positive Movement is not only relevant but also unique because it blends positive psychology (the science of wellbeing) and ontological coaching. Through the organization, they do not only tell people about the science of wellbeing, but also use programmes and coaching methods to guide them towards living a better life.
“We seek to teach people the science behind the skills of confidence and conflict resolution and show that these can be learnt. We train teachers so that they can impart these skills to their students, and we train managers so they can impart these skills to their teams and employees. However, we also realized that even though people learn these skills, they also require some individualized attention through one-on-one sessions where they can process their emotions and apply whatever they learnt in the workshops to their personal lives.” The duo recognize that there are several challenges people meet at different stages of their lives, hence their interest in working with people over a longitudinal time frame to help them adjust to different transitions they go through.
“Our work is relevant because even though challenges vary from person to person and through different life stages, the skills we impart are universal in helping them address these challenges.”
The Positive Movement runs programmes on emotional regulation, resilience building and adaptive leadership. Claire and Donna draw on their experiences and psychology-based tools and research to design learning experiences that not only provide participants with greater understanding of happiness and well-being but also equip them with relevant skills to thrive in the constantly changing world. They strongly emphasize experiential learning.
“In our workshops, we do not just teach theories. We design experiences for participants and through this they are able to make sense of their own experiences, reflect on their habits and thinking patterns, and ultimately be able to discern what serves them or no longer serves them”.
Although they are proud of their work in the Positive Psychology space, Claire and Donna admit that it hasn’t been easy assessing the impact of their work. “Because these are intangible skills, measuring them can be quite subjective. How do you objectively measure a person’s level of self-awareness?” Claire pointed out. The most effective assessment for the Positive Movement has been self-assessment, where individuals assess themselves or teachers assess students by asking them to provide self-reports of the improvement they have made in the areas they previously struggled with. They also have many qualitative assessments in the form of testimonials, and some quantitative assessments.
When asked what they would like to see improved in the area of positive education, the founders of the Positive Movement stressed that the gap is not in the learning of positive education, but in the application of it. According to them, educators ought to be equipped in the practicability of positive education by embodying it themselves, such that it is convincing and well-represented. “The surface level knowledge of positive education poses a danger of teaching it wrongly, which can potentially not only be used to put students down and judge them, but also destroy the reputation of the field as a whole” Claire emphasized. The two ladies hope that in the future, positive psychology will be mainstream, and be observed as a necessity rather than a ‘good to have’.
To find out more about what Claire and Donna do, visit their website at https://thepositivemovement.co/
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