Dr Gisele Dias

Keynote: Towards a coaching psychology-based space for empowerment, agency and wellbeing in higher education

Dr Gisele Dias

Through their role in inspiring students to become active citizens, universities are pivotal in promoting social justice and nurturing a society that is open and plural. To fully achieve this vision, contemporary higher education must be sensitive to the alarming decline in the mental health and wellbeing of students. This paper will explore the need for a space for coaching psychology in higher education; the need for coaching psychology principles and techniques to become an integral part of the fabric that woven academic practices and academic culture.  

One initiative aligned with this ethos is Time to Thrive, an online wellbeing programme developed at King’s College London to support students in developing agency and resilience. At the heart of Time to Thrive is the idea that through self-awareness and use of core strengths and values, students can create a more meaningful life inside and outside of academia. The programme uses evidence-based presentations, discussions and experiential exercises based on the science of wellbeing, the solution-focused approach, the neuroscience of stress and techniques to promote resilience, as well as on ways to tackle loneliness and promote social connectedness. With this, Time to Thrive aims to support students in enhancing their wellbeing, becoming more resourceful and finding ways to use their voice for a life more infused with meaning and purpose.  

This paper will discuss some of the preliminary findings of this initiative and will present some key next steps, such as the adaptation of the programme to support the wellbeing of students and staff from diverse cultural backgrounds. With coaching psychology principles at their core, together these projects aim to contribute to the fundamental role of higher education in fostering a global community that promotes positive social change and serves the world.   

Dr Gisele Dias is a Chartered Psychologist, has a PhD in Science (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro – UFRJ, Brazil/ Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, UK) and an MSc in Biological Sciences (UFRJ, Brazil). After completion of her PhD, she has worked as a postdoctoral researcher at King’s College London in Dr Sandrine Thuret’s Adult Neurogenesis and Mental Health lab. Dr Dias is a coaching psychologist (Centre for Coaching, London, UK) with a strong interest in applied positive psychology. Her current research focuses on designing and evaluating psychological interventions to promote wellbeing and resilience in vulnerable populations.

She worked as a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Greenwich (London, UK), as a Teaching Fellow and Senior/Principal Teaching Fellow in the MSc in Psychology and Neuroscience of Mental Health/ MSc in Applied Neuroscience (King’s College London, UK), having also published several scientific articles and book chapters in the fields of Psychology, Mental Health and Neuroscience. Gisele is now a Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London and Programme Lead for the MSc in Psychology and Neuroscience of Mental Health.