Positive Psychologist & Author
Miriam Akhtar is one of the UK’s leading practitioners of positive psychology and one of the first positive psychologists in Europe.
A highly engaging speaker, she has delivered keynotes at conferences and festivals throughout Europe. She is the author of four books and one of the 100 ‘happiness professors from around the world’ who contributed to The World Book of Happiness, sent to 200 world leaders by the President of the EU. A Bristol Happiness Champion and one of Top Santé magazine’s ‘100 names you need to know in health & wellbeing‘, she has created a variety of cutting edge wellbeing programmes including the Happiness Habits and Happiness Zones.
Miriam holds the MSc in Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) with Distinction from the University of East London, to where she now returns as an associate lecturer. UEL was the first UK university to partner with the MAPP established by Prof Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania. Miriam is also on the faculty of the Executive Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (EMAPP) at the University of Lisbon, and a visiting lecturer at other universities including UWE and Brunel.
Miriam has strengths in communication, which she developed working in the media where she first investigated the science of optimal functioning. She was an award-winning producer at BBC Radio 4 and Channel 4 and a recipient of the Medical Journalists Association Gold Award. She brings these strengths to positive psychology through the audio CD The Happiness Training Plan, co-presented with Dr Chris Johnstone, and her book Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression: Self-Help Strategies for Happiness, Inner Strength & Well-being. She is currently writing an e-book sharing the happiness tools she works with in coaching and training.
Moving in front of the microphone, she has appeared on programmes like BBC Radio 4′s Woman’s Hour, Off the Page and Sunday. Her TV appearances include BBC2′s Secret Life of the Airport and ITV West. She is widely quoted in the press, including in the Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Independent on Sunday, Cosmopolitan, Top Santé, Men’s Health, Boots Health & Beauty and Good Housekeeping.
With a mission is to put people on the path to happiness, Miriam finds it immensely rewarding to support clients to raise and recover their wellbeing and move into a state of flourishing.
She applies the science for both personal and professional development as a consultant, coach, trainer and facilitator. Her particular strength is in taking the research and turning it into practical tools. Upbeat, humorous and inspirational, Miriam embodies positivity and adeptly applies her versatile presentations and training packages for happiness, positive psychology and resilience across a diverse range of sectors, including corporate, not-for-profit, public, education and health & wellbeing. She works as a personal and executive coach, is a director of the ground-breaking Happy City Initiative and a fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs.
Miriam is one of the UK facilitators of the Penn Resiliency Program from the University of Pennsylvania, which was originally developed for young people and is now being rolled out across the US military as the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Programme. It was piloted in UK schools through the Local Wellbeing Project, set up by Lord Professor Richard Layard alongside the IAPT service.
Miriam also combines her positive psychology expertise with her editorial skills to engineer compelling marketing campaigns for communications agencies, including a recent New Year campaign for Special K on behalf of Edelman PR, for which she was interviewed across a number of radio stations and gave interviews to newspapers internationally. As a media spokesperson she calls upon her extensive broadcast experience as the talking head for the TV programmes she made for ITV and Channel 4.
She is a founder member of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) and the Centre for Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP).
Miriam’s presentations, workshops and courses include:
Take a journey into the science of happiness to find out what really makes us happy. In this interactive talk you’ll get to try out some of the techniques that science has shown will grow your happiness.
2) Positive Psychology at Work
Positive psychology is the science of optimal functioning and shows you how to feel good, function well and flourish; it can help you perform at your best, increase your psychological capital and build resilience to cope with times of change.
3) Resilience: How to Bounce Back
Positive psychology’s scientifically-grounded strategies show you how to cope positively with change and tough times, how to thrive despite conditions of adversity and go from floundering to flourishing.
4) A Show of Strengths
The science of Positive Psychology shows that you get more return on investment from focusing on strengths than you do from fixing weaknesses. Discover how to create a strengths-based culture in your workplace.
5) Happiness Habits (workshop)
The Happiness Habits are simple, scientifically-grounded practices which grow your happiness and wellbeing.
Organisations where Miriam has given presentations and trainings include the following:
- Triodos Bank
- The Legal Ombudsman, away-day
- Alternatives, St James, Piccadilly
- Dartington Interrogate festival
- Universities – UEL, UWE, Brunel, Bath, University of Lisbon
- Bristol Mind AGM
- In-Volve charity away-day
- The Czech Positive Psychology conference, May 2013
- The 7th European Positive Psychology conference in Amsterdam, July, 2014
- Nuffield Health
- Bristol PCT
- Skills for Health
- Alpro Soya
- Cardiff City Council
- Hertfordshire County Council
- The Happiness Project
Happiness Habits presentation for School for Social Entrepreneurs
“I recently worked with Miriam to bring the Happiness Habits workshop into Triodos Bank as part of a wider wellbeing programme. Miriam brought a huge amount of warmth, insight and energy to the sessions. She connected well with our co-workers and quickly earned their trust and engagement. She oozed credibility on the research and latest developments within positive psychology and presented in an interactive, practical and engaging way. The pre and post wellbeing evaluation assessment clearly demonstrated the positive impact that the workshops had on our co-workers’ wellbeing. This was reinforced by some of the feedback I received personally from co-workers once the programme had finished. Miriam is a true professional and someone who is enjoyable and very easy to work with. I very much look forward to working with her again soon.”
Paula Searle, Head of HR, Triodos Bank
“I saw Miriam speak for the first time back in 2009. Feeling such a connection and so inspired, I have seen her speak several times since! Weaving a potent mix of experience, research and stories with humour and passion for her subject, you cannot help but absorb every morsel! Her message is one of such importance for all human beings, that I frequently point my friends, colleagues and clients in her direction”
Jen Gash, Artist, Coach, Founder of Discovery Party
“Miriam’s ‘Learning at Work Week’ session on ‘Positive Emotions at Work’ was both inspiring and engaging. She shared practical tips backed up by theory and helped staff to practice their happiness habits through a mixture of discussion and group activities. Miriam was easy to listen to and created a relaxed atmosphere in which the group felt comfortable and able to ask questions and get involved.”
Katie Knight, Comic Relief
“Miriam delivered a really thoughtful, encouraging and positive session. After an hour I came away armed with really useful tools and techniques to help train myself in happiness habits. What I found most beneficial was that the techniques were really manageable and I can see myself sharing them with friends and family (in fact I already have!).”
Sarah Horn, Comic Relief
“I would highly recommend Miriam to any organisation that is looking to inject some wellbeing into their culture. We had Miriam deliver an INSET session with our staff and it was very well received. What is great about Miriam is not just her knowledge and expertise, but also her enthusiasm and authenticity which suggests that she lives by the same principles that she is extolling to the group. Her presentation is both engaging and interactive; even the most ardent cynics will come away with something of value.”
Ben Sandford-Smith – Head of Sixth Form, Solihull School
“Miriam Akhtar is a powerful speaker with a professional and engaging approach. She is equally at ease in front of a large audience or broadcasting live in a studio. Miriam’s knowledge about and enthusiasm for her subject makes her a positive and inspirational speaker who gets straight to the heart of the matter. Her warm and friendly manner combined with a pleasing broadcasting voice mean she is often invited to contribute to BBC national and local radio programmes who wish to draw on her expertise. She has also made several appearances on television including ITV News and BBC2. Miriam’s background in the broadcast media has given her an insight into effective presentation and storytelling skills that educate, interest and entertain an audience.”
Jenny Walmsley, Broadcast Editor
“Miriam is a skilful brand ambassador and a real pleasure to work with. Expertly combining best-in-field knowledge and experience of positive psychology, with an experienced editorial nous and strong knowledge of how the communications industry works – she hits key campaign messaging and delivers genuine help for consumers. I am definitely looking forward to working with Miriam again in the future.”
Laura Dodgson, Edelman PR
“I came to your talk at St.James and found it incredibly inspiring. I have been suffering from ‘the cloud’ myself and found your talk and book very useful to give me concrete techniques for helping myself. Thank you so much for writing so truthfully about your experiences, the personal accounts are so much more helpful than other books that keep the author separate from the reader. Thank you for all of the information you pack into your talk. It gave me so much to think about.”
Naomi, reader and talk attendee