48 Positive psychology techniques – Positive case conceptualisation

Jonathan Passmore & Lindsay G. Oades


This short techniques article is part of a series of papers and builds on the initial outline paper which explored the potential of positive psychology approaches within coaching (Passmore & Oades, 2014). This paper focuses on the skill of positive case conceptualisation, which allows coach and coachee to work collaboratively on building a shared understanding of the positive issues under discussion.


case conceptualisation; positive case conceptualisation; positive diagnosis; coaching mind maps; positive psychology; positive psychology coaching.

Original publication details: Passmore, J., & Oades, L. G. (2015, June). Positive psychology techniques – Positive case conceptualization. The Coaching Psychologist, 11(1), 43–45. Reproduced with permission of The British Psychological Society.


The concept of case conceptualisation has derived from work within therapy, and is commonly used in cognitive behavioural therapy. Counselling psychologists have defined the term as:

‘Case formulation aims to describe a person’s presenting problems and a theory to make explanatory inferences about causes and maintaining factors that can inform interventions. First, there is a top-down process of cognitive behavioural theory providing clinically useful descriptive frameworks. Second the formulation enables practitioners and clients to make explanatory ...

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