In April 2018, Sue Langley and The Langley Group team were invited by the Happiness and Its Causes team to participate in a special event: An Afternoon with Martin Seligman.  The event started with a keynote presentation by Dr Seligman, followed by an interview and Q&A session, hosted by Sue.

In the seventh video of our series covering the interview with Sue Langley, Dr Martin Seligman shares his candid thoughts and knowledge around Positive Psychology and Wellbeing.

What Do Positive Psychology Practitioners Call Themselves?


One of the other things that comes up sometimes is, there are a lot of people now who complete, whether it’s our Diploma of Positive Psychology (and Wellbeing), or the MAPP now at various places in the world, and there are certain legal entities that say they are not allowed to call themselves a Positive Psychology Practitioner.

Now, nobody is wanting to call themselves a Positive Psychologist if they are not a psychologist, (yet) even using the words Positive Psychology Practitioner is causing problems. What are your thoughts? What should we all call ourselves? Because you can’t study a MAPP for two years and then not to be allowed to say you have got masters in applied positive psychology.

What’s your view on that?

Screen Shot 2018-09-04 at 1.22.51 pmDr Seligman:

I think this is a bad situation, it’s a guild situation. I was president of the largest guild of mental health workers in the world, the American Psychological Association, and they fought night-and-day to create legislation that would forbid people with a masters degree from calling themselves Psychologists, so when I was president of APA, I lost my license, as a practicing Psychologist, because I didn’t take any continuing education that year.

And I never regained it, (yet) I’m not allowed to call myself a Psychologist, so something is wrong here. If you and I cannot be called Psychologists, no one can be called a Psychologist. So we have to do something to break the guild here, and I have no wisdom about politics here, (yet) this is a guild issue and it should be fought head-on and there’s no way in which someone who has gotten a PhD in vision, in a psychology department, is more entitled to be called a Psychologist than you are.


Thank you.

Don’t miss previous videos:

The Interview Continues…

Martin Seligman’s latest book ‘The Hope Circuit: A Psychologist’s Journey from Helplessness to Optimism’ is available in our online shop – find out more here.

To learn more about positive psychology, download your free white paper that distils the science, practice and impact of positive psychology on human happiness, performance and wellbeing.