Home All Certificate in Applied Pos Psych Program Launched

Certificate in Applied Pos Psych Program Launched

written by Marie-Josée Shaar 22 February 2014

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 Psychology

Learning attunement thrugh movement

   Learning attunement through movement

Imagine 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.

Practice mindfulness with a feather

Practice mindfulness with a feather

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.

Marie-Josée: Who is the certification program for?

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.

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.

CAPP Participants

Trying on Optimism with Rose-Colored Glasses

Marie-Josée: What are graduates able to do with the certification?

Emiliya & Louis: Here are some of the key outcomes:

       Onsite small group

       Onsite small group

  • 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.

Marie-Josée: Who are the instructors?

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.

Another instructor is MAPP graduate, Louis Alloro, who also has a Master of Education degree. Louis has been active in social and emotional (SOMO) leadership programs in Cleveland Ohio and beyond.

Guest instructors include Sonja Lyubomirsky, Andrew Newberg, Robert Emmons, Stephen Post, Todd Kashdan, Gayatri Devi, and Carin Rockind.

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.

Marie-Josée: Please share a stellar CAPP moment (or 2 or 3 if you can’t decide!)

Pairwise Support

   Pairwise support

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.

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.


Devi, G. (2013). A Calm Brain: How to Relax into a Stress-Free, High-Powered Life. Plume Books.

Emmons, R. (2013). Gratitude Works!: A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Emmons, R. (2007) Thanks!: How the new science of gratitude can make you happier. Boston: Houghton Mifflan Company.

Kashdan, T. (2012). Becoming a mad scientist with your life. TED-x talk.

Kashdan, T. (2009). Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life. New York: William Morrow.

Kashdan, T. B. & Ciarrochi, J. (Eds.) (2013). Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Positive Psychology: The Seven Foundations of Well-Being. Context Press.

Lyubomirsky, S. (2010). What determines happiness?

Lyubomirsky, L. (2013). The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, but Does.

Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. New York: Penguin Books.

Newberg, A. & Waldman, M. R. (2010). How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist. Ballantine Books.

Post S., & Neimark, J. (2007). Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How to Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life by the Simple Act of Giving. USA: Broadway books.

Image Credits
All images used with permission from Emiliya Zhivotovskaya

Not seeing the pictures for the book links? Disable Adblocking for this site to view them.

You may also like


Judy Krings 25 February 2014 - 7:24 am

Great overview of world-altering new positive psychology VITALITY-infused CAPP. Thanks ever so much, Marie-Josee. Big congrats to the whole team. Love your three vignettes and seeing all the smiling faces ready to rock the world. And I would love to see your 2700 Power Point slides. What a grand idea!

I feel very privileged to know many of you MAPP’sters who have added to much rich texture to my coaching positivity life. Bless you all.

Louis 25 February 2014 - 8:08 am

Why thanks, Marie-Josee — for the generosity displayed in helping our program be seen. Your time and effort and love really resonate high, especially given the tradeoffs to your own work that it takes to spotlight ours. This is the superorganism in action — and so, thank you thank you thank you.

If you’d like to support a student in being able to earn her CAPP, look here http://www.gofundme.com/732uz4 – for a rousing testimonial about WHY this is important to her. Every $10 helps.

And Judy Krings, you’re so welcome to join us in NYC. In face, wow….yes! COME!

Marie-Josee Shaar 25 February 2014 - 8:48 am

Judy, you are a positive intervention all by yourself! Love your generous support of the PP community here, and of my health promotion model too! Thanks for your continuous awesomeness!

Louis – glad to help. I get asked very often “where can I study PP without investing in a whole UPenn education” – now I have a great source of info to refer these people to.


Louis Alloro 10 March 2014 - 2:25 pm

Only 3 spots left in the cohort that starts this weekend! You feel called? Then COME! #amazingexperience #wealllearn #growth #purpose #personal #professional #polarities #metacognition #mindfulness #flourishing #fun

Elaine O'Brien 17 August 2014 - 6:49 pm

Fabulous re-reading this, MJ. Thanks for sharing this terrific overview of the amazing CAPP program. You captured the essence and positive energy Emiliya and Louis are putting forth. Cheers and congratulations!

Judy Krings 18 August 2014 - 4:22 am

Great stories here, MJ. What an exciting announcment.

Emiliya and Louis, you have done yourselves so very proud. I am thrilled for you both and look forward to watching your students light up the world with the vitality you have have modeled in developing your stellar program. You are launching an updated applied positive psychology world reservoire. Terrific!

Thanks for your kind words and invitation. Were Puerto Vallarta not such a long and arduous trek, I would be knocking on your doorsteps.

Continued success and blessings t0 you and your stellar staff.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

WP Twitter Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com