Marie-Josée (MJ) Salvas Shaar, MAPP '07, CPT, has studied, tested, coached, and taught smart health habits for over 13 years. Combining positive psychology with fitness and nutrition, she created a coaching method that builds better sleep, food, mood, and exercise habits, as described in her book, Smarts and Stamina: The Busy Person's Guide to Optimal Health and Performance, which includes 50 practical health-building activities. Today MJ gives keynotes for corporate wellness programs and offers continuing education for wellness professionals, who can license her Smarts and Stamina Online program. Full bio. MJ's articles are here.
Spreading the Magic of Positive PsychologyImagine participating in a learning experience with every meeting filled with music, movement, experiential learning, and rich academic content. Imagine feeling supported by instructors and peers alike. Imagine an experience that’s as enjoyable as it is rigorous. Imagine a curriculum that benefits your life as much as it does your work.
Graduates of Masters of Applied Positive Psychology programs found the experience so fulfilling that many of us wondered how we could bottle the magic. In my eyes, MAPP was truly matchless. Or so I thought until recently.
Now the Flourishing Center, in partnership with the New York Open Center, is granting a Certification in Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP), a 6-month program that has been approved by the New York Board of Education. Students meet for 7 full weekends. The rest of the material is delivered through online content, teleclasses, and webinars.As one would expect, the certification covers all the topics that make positive psychology so fascinating, including gratitude, resilience, positive emotions, mindset, flow, strengths, and self-regulation. Coaches, teachers, managers, and other professionals will find practical research-based tools to add to their repertoires, such as goal setting theory, hope theory, change theory, motivational interviewing, and habit formation. The certification program also covers topics that are becoming more and more mainstream in positive psychology: mindfulness, altruism, spirituality, and neuroscience. As a wellness strategist, I particularly appreciate that the CAPP Program not only covers Martin Seligman’s PERMA model, but also the much needed additional dimension of vitality, thus making it PERMA+V. Vitality includes topics such as psycho-somatic and somato-psychic interventions, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, vagal tone, biochemicals, and healthy habits around sleep, food, and exercise. They cover many of the topics that come up in my book, Smarts and Stamina.
To bring you all the news about CAPP, dear PPND readers, I interviewed the founder, Emiliya Zhivotovskaya, and the co-director, Louis Alloro. The third cohort of the CAPP program will start this spring on March 15. It is still accepting applications. Without further ado, here is the juicy information they provided.
Emiliya & Louis: We’re training the change-agents of the world. We’re looking for people in all sorts of industries and sectors and careers. Our participants include teachers, coaches, medical professionals, human resources executives, and everyday folks, all looking to create a better world in their domains of influence. Our students tend to be people who are determined to make the world a better place. They are committed to introspection for personal growth. They also want to be of service to others.
Marie-Josée: Who is the certification program for?
Our students share these core beliefs:
- It’s an exciting time to be alive because science is giving us so many tools for self-care, validating what we know, and creating a deeper understanding of how the human mind and body work.
- Happiness and well-being are fundamental to what everyone wants in life.
- Everyone has the ability to create a personally flourishing life and thereby has the propensity to spread flourishing to others.
- The key to creating greater health and happiness is having self-awareness, which enables self-compassion and thus greater self-care.
Marie-Josée: What are graduates able to do with the certification?
Emiliya & Louis: Here are some of the key outcomes:
- They gain an empowered understanding of the science of human flourishing, so that they understand WHY what they are offering their clients works, how it works, and when best to use it.
- Participants are permitted to use the 2,700+ Power Point slides from the curriculum to create their own workshops or make presentations appropriate to their professions.
- They can put “CAPP” after their names, which informs others that they are well versed in the science of happiness, achievement, and well-being.
- They can stay connected to the Flourishing Center after their training for continuing education, placement in the practitioner directory, and community support.
- They walk away with hundreds of tools for becoming happier and more resilient, optimistic, self-efficacious, self-regulated, connected, empowered, motivated, centered, authentic, and physically healthy.
Emiliya & Louis: Emiliya Zhivotovskaya has been the main facilitator and creator of the course content. In addition to her MAPP degree, she is a certified professional coach and a registered Yoga trainer and she is pursuing a doctorate in Mind-Body Medicine at Saybrook University. She aggregates a broad amount of information that includes mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.
Marie-Josée: Who are the instructors?
Marie-Josée: What is the experience like?
Emiliya & Louis: Convening like-minded people together to engage with the content of applied positive psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, and mind-body medicine is magical. There’s a real sense of community and care that we develop after just the first weekend that continues to grow as the program unfolds. Students love that everything they learn is immediately applicable to their day-to-day lives. They report feeling more empowered, less reactive and in general more satisfied with their lives.
Emiliya & Louis: One of our students in her 70s was struggling with a desire to change her husband. She loves trying new things and going new places, he wants to do the same thing again and again. Through a brief exploration of positive psychology skills and theory we helped her reframe her perspective and notice his strengths of self-regulation, that he really loves learning new things, he just enjoys creating routines which free him up to do other things, and that his more introverted personality style is a positive balance to her more extroverted personality style. That “aha” moment was big for her. After decades of marriage, she started to see her husband’s strengths more than his weaknesses, and thus took her relationship to greater heights.
Marie-Josée: Please share a stellar CAPP moment (or 2 or 3 if you can’t decide!)
We assess flourishing levels before and after the program. At the end, we deliver each student a report of his or her changes. A second mini-favorite moment involved the look in a student’s eyes when we handed out her report. She had the largest increase in score, 66 points or a 12% increase to her overall life flourishing. She was aware of her personal growth and transformation, but having it quantitatively validated brought tears to her eyes.
In a third mini-favorite moment, one of our students, who is pregnant, shared with us that her baby is pretty inactive most of the time. But when she’s in class with us the baby starts kicking up a storm. She is convinced that her baby is hooked on Positive Psychology already.
For other stories, watch CAPP students speaking out about the experience.
That about sums it up for you, folks! For more information and/or registrations, please visit the site for the Certificate for Applied Positive Psychology.
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All images used with permission from Emiliya Zhivotovskaya