1 year online program starts Jan 23rd, 2023
Learn to practice the art of character strengths and virtue psychology through this 1-year online training program. This program teaches you the fundamentals of the classical and medieval Western approach to mental well-being and happiness--a detailed, extensive approach built up over many centuries. It is a positive model, presenting a theory of wellness. It does not focus on disorders only, as newer psychological systems have generally done. This program presents classical mental wellness perspectives and practical advice from Greek antiquity through the medieval Christian period and up to the modern day.
This time-tested approach will provide you with a new perception of emotions, ethics, and happiness. You will discover practical methods for improving character strengths, managing emotions, and harnessing the motivational energy of the passions. These insights will equip you to aid clients in directing themselves to happiness.
In this training program, recorded presentations lay out the fundamentals of this understanding of human nature and explain how to build strength of character through the virtues - those dispositions of the person, built up through repeated action, that make it easy and pleasant to act well. These presentations are supplemented by weekly class discussion in live, online video-meetings, as well as by exercises, to ensure you attain a firm grasp of virtue psychology and virtue counseling methods.
This course gives you all the training necessary to practice as a character strengths coach legally in the United States. A character strengths coach is a type of wellness coach: someone who supports clients in working toward the well-being and flourishing they seek. A person who becomes a character strengths coach likes encouraging and assisting other people--offering them practical strategies and helping them marshal their inner strengths for success in the circumstances they face. Perhaps he or she already works as a counselor, teacher, minister, health coach, or in some similar role. Or perhaps he or she has an interest in the classical or the Christian mental health tradition, or in traditional mental health wisdom generally. No prior experience is necessary.
The field of wellness coaching has been growing steadily for years. "According to some surveys, 60% of Americans want health coaching, but 80% of them have never had it offered to them." (Source: Health Coaching Gains Favor Among Consumers, Insurers, & Employers) This course can help you meet this need, while equipping you to provide a positive vision of psychological well-being, something often missing in the modern world.
By the end of this program you will know:
- In practical detail, a traditional Western understanding of human nature, the human passions (emotions), and human virtue, including--
- What it is that makes a person truly, enduringly happy.
- The role of the various passions (emotions)--love, hatred, anger, sadness, avoidance, desire, etc.--in achieving happiness, and how the passions can undermine happiness as well.
- Why developing a virtuous character is an essential part of becoming happy.
- How the virtues interact with and support each other in the formation of character: for example, why one cannot have perfect fortitude without hope or charity without faith, or why temperance helps you achieve justice.
- How to avoid unhealthy behaviors that can easily feel like virtue, but are not.
- In the context of life, how to assess the numerous passions, discern their causes, and use them effectively: for example, how to determine how much a particular pleasure is conducive to happiness, or determine whether a particular anger is healthy or not and what to do about it.
- Concrete, practical approaches to managing one's passions and strengthening the virtues of a noble character.
By the end of the program you will be able to:
- Educate clients about the traditional Western ideas of human functioning, happiness, and virtue.
- Help clients, on the basis of their own insight into their strengths and weaknesses, to find practical strategies, suited to their lives, for managing their passions, increasing virtue, and directing themselves to happiness.
- Offer these insights into human functioning in a professional setting--either standalone as a character strengths coach, or alongside existing services you provide as a counselor, wellness coach, teacher, spiritual director, etc.
Graduates will use the program to advance in their current careers, as well as in new professional settings. Here are some examples:
- Wellness coaches will learn a time-tested understanding of motivation and success, along with practical strategies, that they can share with clients to help them achieve well-being.
- Teachers will be better able to help students understand their emotions and desires and advance toward virtue.
- Mental health professionals will gain familiarity with a model of human functioning and flourishing, not of mental health pathology alone. They will also gain a detailed understanding of the traditional psychology that has left a mark on Western societies, helping them to better communicate with and aid clients from these cultures.
- Ministers or spiritual directors will learn new skills for advising those who seek their help, according to an ancient Christian understanding of emotional health and moral growth.
Certification & Credentials
Upon graduating, each student will be given a certificate demonstrating their professional qualifications as a character strengths coach and will be eligible to start meeting with clients. They will have completed the first year of a projected 3-year track to becoming an advanced mental health coach and virtue counselor. Certification will be through the North Carolina College of Natural Medicine.
Americans use mental health services at a growing rate, especially those who are age 22 or younger--a trend which suggests the increase will continue. The growth may be linked to greater social recognition of mental health issues and willingness to access services, which would also suggest continued increase. (Source: Mental health care accounts for a growing number of private insurance claims)
"Probably 20% of people in the country have some form of mental health issue at some point in their lives...on a continuum from very little to very severe." (Source: What Mental Health Statistics Can Tell Us)
Health coaching is a particular growth sector: "Market data estimates that the total U.S. health coaching market was worth $6.14 billion in 2017, up 15% from 2014. The total market is forecast to grow at a 5.4% average annual pace, to $7.85 billion by 2022, with 121,000 coaches practicing." "According to some surveys, 60% of Americans want health coaching, but 80% of them have never had it offered to them." (Source: Health Coaching Gains Favor Among Consumers, Insurers, & Employers)
A character strengths coach is not a mental health therapist, mental health counselor, or psychologist. As such, a coach cannot diagnose or treat formal mental illnesses; clients in need of such services should be referred to relevant specialists. Additionally, even in the domain of virtue (as distinct from mental illness) certified coaches are still only educators in the eyes of the law. Legally, you will be able to listen to people's concerns and educate them on the traditional virtue-based perspective on and approach to those topics, helping them to find practical ways to address their own concerns. Please seek legal advice in your state if you have questions about your scope of practice after graduating.
Why Study the Virtues?
Happiness, character, nobility, holiness - these are just some of the psychological benefits of studying the virtues. Though a familiar concept, how many of us know the practical tools necessary to improve character strength and effectiveness? The study of virtues is the study of excellence. The classical, time-tested model of the virtues were the dominant model for psychological wellness for 2,300 years. Throughout most of history, education in the virtues was considered essential to the development of the person.
This thought provoking 2 year course explores history's practical answer to modern mental health and wellness. The program is based on the works of Josef Pieper, Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the greatest minds of western civilization.
The virtues were developed by Greek philosophers from antiquity, and provided a model for mental well-being for thousands of years before it was replaced by modern psychology. But has something valuable been lost in modern psychological methods? This course brings the wisdom and insight of a longstanding tradition into the modern era.
Introduction to the Human Person P1,2
Happiness / Unhappiness
Mental Health & the Passions, Appetites, Emotions, and Instincts
This section you will learn how to help clients reap the rewards of each passion, while minimizes pathological addiction and suppression of the passion. You will learn the anatomy of each passion, and be able to articulate key interventions for improvement.
- Love (amor)
- Desire (desiderium/concupiscentia)
- Pleasure/joy (delectatio/gaudium/laetitia)
- Hate (odium)
- Avoidance (fuga/abominatio)
- Pain/sadness (dolor/tristitia)
- Hope (spes)
- Desperatio (despair)
- Fear (timor)
- Daring (audacia)
- Anger (ira)
Includes theory of habit & character development, and an in depth discussion of each of the seven virtues. You will learn how to assess this virtue in others, pinpoints deficiencies of this virtue, and learn practical tips to grow in each virtue.
Get the a complete description of each module
- Prudence - Improving goals & means
- Justice - Becoming kind, building relationships
- Fortitude - Growing in strength
- Temperance - Attaining serenity
- Faith - Improving confidence
- Hope - Reaching for greatness
- Love (Charity) - Finding fulfillment
Is There a Link Between Ayurveda & the Virtues?
The virtues are a mental health model similar to Ayurveda's approach to the body. They are the natural complement to Ayurveda. Ayurveda is a theory of how habits change the body. The virtues are a theory of how habit changes the mind. Ayurveda balances the body using gunas. Virtue psychology balances the mind using virtues. Together, Ayurveda & the virtues form a seamless habit based theory of wellness.
About the Teacher
John Immel is a health and wellness speaker. He is the director of a leading health and wellness company and school, Joyful Belly Ayurveda. He is president of the National Association of Ayurvedic Schools and Colleges, and chair of the pastoral council at St. Lawrence Basilica, a Catholic Church in Asheville, NC. He has a degree in mathematics and computer science from Harvard University. He lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and 4 children.