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Strategies for Building a Career Based on Positive Psychology (Includes Sponsored Link)

By on March 10, 2016 – 11:20 am  One Comment

Emiliya Zhivotovskaya, MAPP '07, is the founder of Flourish, an organization dedicated to using research based tools to enable individuals and organizations to flourish. Emiliya fuses the best of Eastern philosophy with Western science to provide people with holistic tools to increase their happiness, well-being, and sense of flourishing. Full bio.

Emiliya's articles are here.

“What can I do with a certificate in positive psychology?”

That’s a question I’ve heard over and over in the four years since Louis Alloro and I co-founded CAPP, a certification program in positive psychology. Here’s our answer:

“The same thing you can do with a masters degree in positive psychology,” I would say, “Both nothing and almost anything.”

Then I’d explain that although positive psychology is a branch of psychology, neither a masters nor a certification entitles a person to be called a psychologist, a therapist, or any other clinical designation. Other than that, you can do anything with positive psychology, and anyone that works with people benefits from training in the science of well-being, resilience, peak performance, optimal human functioning, and happiness.

The 5i∆gent Model

From thousands of calls, emails, and conversations, I turned what I heard into data points and derived the 5i∆gent Model (∆ for change). People come to positive psychology describing themselves and their work with various nouns, including teacher, coach, therapist, dancer, principal, entrepreneur, musician, engineer, tutor, doctor, and human resources manager. But I’ve found that what they actually do with positive psychology puts them into 5 categories of change agents that be described by 5 verbs. Change agents individualize, invent, integrate, implement, or infuse the science of positive psychology into their personal and professional lives.

  • Individualizers work one-on-one with clients or patients on a session-by-session basis in a practice informed by positive psychology. Individualizers include coaches, therapists, social workers, psychologists, and mentors.
  • Inventors disseminate knowledge by creating experiences for larger audiences. Inventors include bloggers, speakers, trainers, authors, and facilitators.
  • Implementers work within or with organizations to implement positive psychology based programs including mindfulness and stress reduction workshops within the organization, wellness programs, coaching programs, strengths interventions, resilience training, and more. Implementers include consultants, managers, principals, school educators, and human resources directors.
  • Integrators wouldn’t traditionally think of themselves as practicing positive psychology. Integrators keep their professional titles but integrate positive psychology into their existing work. Integrators include engineers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, tutors, performers, occupational therapists, interior decorators, kinesiologists, programmers, nurses, and elementary educators. They refer to their traditional work as being based on positive psychology. For example, someone might be a positive-psychology-based elementary school teacher.
  • Infusers infuse positive psychology into every aspect of their lives and may not necessarily have a specific career title. Infusers include parents, retirees, students, volunteers, and people who are in transition and possibly considering a career in positive psychology.

Putting the Model to Work

Each change agent type uses positive psychology differently. Each requires different professional strategies to overcome obstacles to success.

Individualizers “perform miracles by the hour,” as Sherri Fisher puts it. That makes them vulnerable to burnout. Often working as soloprenuers, they can plateau in their businesses because there are only so many hours a week that they can work with clients. One strategy appropriate for individualizers is to incorporate group work into their practices in order to create multiple revenue streams.


Inventors see things in new ways

Inventors love to synthesize, create, and share with the world. The majority of inventors that have registered for CAPP either had established careers as speakers, trainers, and writers, or were wanting to transition into similar work. If they were already established they often created their programs based on their own experiences. Inventors have created happiness workshops, resilience training programs, employee engagement programs, books describing 10 steps to greater well-being, parent training programs, and more. Their offerings are often beautiful. However, they can have lingering doubts. Do their theories have weight? Would their approaches work for everyone? Inventors need to be sure to get the science right. In CAPP, they get hundreds of new tools for invention since one of the unique features of the program is that students may repurpose all the worksheets, audio materials, and over 3,900 Power Point slides for their own work. This helps inventors to create more powerful experiences that are grounded in science.

Implementers work in or with organizations. They are transforming corporate cultures and want to help systems thrive. Learning the science of positive psychology helps them explain the ways that organizations can benefit by adopting positive principles and interventions. Implementers in the CAPP Program get specific interventions they can offer in the form of leadership development and continuing education. They also learn coaching skills.

Integrators tend to be the change agents that confuse others. Integrators either love what they currently do or are not in a position to leave their current work. They hold titles and specific job descriptions in established fields. However, they integrate positive psychology into their work. Not only does integrating positive psychology into their current work help them excel in supporting their clients, but also marketing the uniqueness of their services helps them stand out.

Infusers are people who are in transition or use positive psychology in a non-traditional work setting. Infusers are excited about positive psychology. They love learning about how the brain and body work. Infusers are fascinated by people and social dynamics. Infusers often gravitate to the CAPP Program because they’ve always been passionate about psychology but did not pursue it formally. They’re not in a position to earn a master’s degree in the field, but they want the knowledge and training. They infuse every aspect of their lives with the training they receive. In their social circles, they are often the go-to person for inspiration. They follow Gandhi’s lead and live the change that they want to see in the world. Positive psychology training gives them tools for helping themselves and others thrive. For some, studying positive psychology is the first step of identifying their callings.

Some People are Blends

Almost all change agents infuse. Some people blend the other verbs. For example, people in private practice as coaches (individualizing) may offer workshops and online courses (inventing) to drive traffic to their practices. Implementers within an organization may craft learning experiences (inventing) for their teams or begin to work one-on-one with their executives to enhance performance (individualizing). Some integrators love their work and keep on integrating. Others will eventually make a leap to individualizing, inventing, or implementing. Others will leap without a set plan, as they infuse, learning positive psychology and applying it in their personal lives while they figure out a professional direction.

Once you identify which change agent type you are, you can create a specific game plan that caters to your needs. Want to learn more about how to use the 5i∆gent Model to create a positive psychology based career? Click here to take our 5i∆gent Quiz, get our 5i∆gent Guide eBook, and a free recording of a 2 hour webinar where I walk you through the model. Learn from the experiences that others have had making a livelihood that is shaped by positive psychology.

Author’s Note: The Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP) Program is now offered in 11 cities across the United States and Canada. It is also offered online to non-U.S. and non-Canadian students.

The Certificate of Applied Positive Psychology Program is a 200-hour, 6-month personal and professional learning journey which transforms the lives of its graduates by empowering them with the tools, community and confidence to implement positive psychology as individualizers, inventors, implementers, integrators, and infusers. The program is approved by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) for 36 Continuing Education hours. The Canadian CAPP Programs are offered in partnership with the Canadian Positive Psychology Association (CPPA). The CAPP Program is offered by The Flourishing Center, a New York based benefit corporation (BCorp) that provides science based, educational and invigorating programs and services for helping people thrive.

Programs are about to start in the following cities:

Start Date City
March 12, 2016      Philadelphia   
April 2, 2016 Washington, DC
Raleigh, NC
April 9, 2016 New York City, NY
Toronto, ON
Chicago, IL
Boston, MA
April 23, 2016 Vancouver, BC
May 7, 2016 San Francisco, CA
May 14, 2016 Ottawa, ON

A program is coming in the fall in Dallas Texas. The online CAPP started in January 2016.

Click here to register. You can use the following code to gain a $100 discount because you came from PPND: PPND2016.

(Editor’s note: This is the sponsored link. Positive Psychology News will receive a small part of your registration fee, which will then be used to update and upgrade the site.)




Shaar, M.-J. (2014, February 22). Certificate in Applied Pos Psych Program Launched. Positive Psychology News.

O’Brien, E. (2014, November 21). New CAPP Programs Springing Up in 2015. Positive Psychology News.

Zhivotovskaya, E. (2016). How Do Change Agents Use Positive Psychology to Create Abundance, Well-Being and Community? Learn How & Do This for Yourself. Free eBook.

Photo Credit: via Compfight cc
Workshop facilitators courtesy of Tatiana12
Inventors courtesy of Vernon Barford School Library

One Comment »

  • Amanda says:


    I love your article, and its timeliness. Now that Positive Psychology has been around for a while, there are so many ways people use it or apply it.

    How clever to come up with the 5i∆gent Model! You have articulated what I haven’t been easily able to describe. I love the field PP (and also AI) but I’m not as active in implementer and inventor as I am in integrator and individualizer. How can anyone not be an infuser? We all need to apply the field to our own lives to really fully learn about PP.


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