How to use positive psychology in counselling?

The science and study of positive aspects of life, such as wellbeing, happiness, fulfillment, and the capacity to thrive in daily life, is known as Positive Psychology. The field investigates how to create a meaningful, fulfilling existence that enables an individual to be content. Although it emphasizes positive feelings like optimism, hope, happiness, and joy, it is more than just that. This area of psychology also focuses on character strengths, self-esteem, and wellbeing, how they can be used in our daily lives, careers, and interpersonal interactions, and how they all interact to help us live meaningful lives.

The Three Levels of Positive Psychology are frequently cited by proponents of positive psychology as a framework for their work. They include: 

  • Subjective level: Sensations of joy, contentment, optimism, and other comparable emotions or feelings as they pertain to your day-to-day experience are the focus of the subjective level. 
  • Individual level: The individual level combines the subjective level emotions of well-being with the traits or virtues that make you a complete person, such as courage, love, and forgiveness. 
  • Group level: The group level is concerned with how well you connect with your neighbors and includes characteristics that make social ties stronger, such as altruism and social responsibility.

The basic goal of positive psychology is to motivate people to focus on developing their character strengths rather than trying to fix their flaws. In order to increase the quality of life, positive psychology emphasizes the need for people to change their pessimistic perspective to one that is more upbeat. 

Positive psychology is crucial because, understanding what makes people live more fulfilling lives can help us develop more effective management techniques for dealing with mental illness, stopping bad habits, and boosting happiness and productivity. For instance, a positive psychologist would investigate the resilience of people who have successfully recovered from drug addiction and encourage such resilience in upcoming patients rather than examining the underlying characteristics connected with drug addiction.

Core Concepts of Positive Psychology

This philosophy of the human experience centers on the virtues of people, institutions, and communities.  A positive psychologist works to support people, families, communities at large, and other institutions in achieving and maintaining optimal functioning and leading lives that are worthwhile. 

Positive psychologists emphasize fundamental ideas like: 

  • Character virtues 
  • Acceptance of a fulfilled life (the positive and the negative) 
  • Optimism 
  • Tenacity and resiliency 
  • Purpose\Flow


 1.  Positive Psychology Encourages Gratitude

It takes a lot of work to develop gratitude. It’s frequently tough to remember to be grateful given the numerous challenges one could encounter in daily life. 

Positive psychology may enhance that grateful cultivation. It seems natural that it would boost our appreciation because it enables us to concentrate on the positive aspects of the environment in which we live. Among the many advantages of gratitude for happiness and other aspects of life are: 

  • More psychological contentment, joy, mental health, and pleasure with life 
  • Increased happy feeling experiences 
  • Where appropriate, higher levels of spirituality and faith 
  • An increase in optimism 
  • Increased self-confidence and self-esteem 
  • Enhanced social connections, likeability, and support networks, as well as closer ties to family and friends

2.  Positive Psychology Tells Us We Can Take Control

A common aspect in many people’s battles with psychological issues and mental health is a sense of being out of control. People might easily become hopeless and helpless when everything seems to be beyond their control. 

People who practice positive psychology can regain control over their lives. Studies have shown that purposefully nurturing happy attitudes and moods might cause them to become real. In other words, making changes to your life can already start to significantly affect your level of happiness. 

This sends a strong message that you can be in charge. It’s encouraging to know that you have the power to make such a big difference in your well-being.

3.  Positive Psychology Balances One’s Relationship With Money

Many people’s motivation comes from money. However, if it takes over and dominates your life, issues may arise. A healthy balance between big-money ambitions and other, more fulfilling pursuits is possible thanks to positive psychology. It does so by using the following methods: 

  • It emphasizes Experiences 

Positive psychology study has shown that spending money on experiences rather than stuff enhances pleasure. Focusing that expenditure toward productive endeavors eases some of the guilt associated with using money to improve your mood.

  • It Balances Financial Goals

Many distinct people have the common objective of achieving wealth. We now know from positive psychology studies that acquiring wealth can increase happiness. Your mood won’t be significantly improved overall. In other words, it doesn’t discourage you from having financial ambitions; it merely warns you against making them your primary priorities in life. 

  • It Encourages Generosity 

It’s tempting to spend more money on yourself when you don’t have any to spare. However, according to a positive psychology study, giving money to others will make you happier than receiving it for yourself. There are many additional advantages to altruism in your life as well.

4.  Positive Psychology Encourages Acts Of Kindness

You are aware that financial generosity is encouraged by positive psychology since it can lead to happier outcomes than self-indulgent expenditure. Additionally, the subject has a lot more to say about charity in general. Random acts of kindness have been linked to improved social standing and overall well-being, according to studies in the field. 

This is true, according to research, working for a cause you believe in might increase life satisfaction and possibly lessen signs of depression.

5.  It Can Be Applied To Work Environments

The atmosphere in workplaces is frequently hostile to the people who work there. Many business owners, managers, and supervisors are unaware of the benefits for their company that taking care of their employees’ well-being may provide. According to positive psychology studies, many workplaces can be made better by: 

  • Promoting happy feelings, which boosts performance in a variety of jobs.
  • Taking tiny, straightforward steps to raise staff morale.
  • Creating pleasant emotions, which are contagious and swiftly spread among people in a workplace, is another concern. 
  • Providing employment that individuals might find meaningful and significant.


The PERMA model is an evidence-based approach to improve “happiness” and decrease anxiety, depression, and stress. Many activities can be used to systematically increase positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and achievement (PERMA).

P – Positive emotions:

Positive emotions have a significant impact on improving wellbeing. Fostering appreciation and forgiveness for the past, taking pleasure in the present, and having hope for the future can all lead to positive emotions. 

E – Engagement :

 Increasing your sense of engagement is another significant way to improve your well-being. You can achieve this by immersing yourself fully in a task that you enjoy and are good at. This level of commitment results in “flow,” a state of mind you experience when your abilities are adequate for a given challenge and a specific objective is in mind. 

R – Relationships: 

Because we are social beings, we frequently need to form relationships with others in order to survive, and the support we receive from these relationships can give our lives direction and significance.

M – Meaning:

It takes more than just feeling good to live a happy life. Finding meaning, according to Seligman, is the pinnacle of happiness. Applying your abilities to something bigger than yourself, like a social cause, making a significant contribution to the community you live in, or performing a philanthropic act can give your life meaning. 

A – Accomplishment: 

Without a doubt, we feel a sense of contentment when we succeed and reach our goals. It is challenging to get a true sense of well-being if the motivation to achieve these goals doesn’t present.


In therapy, a therapist who adheres to positive psychology concepts strikes a balance between the good and the negative while assisting clients in developing and employing coping mechanisms for problems including depression, anxiety, and stress disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In order to combat the predominant vocabulary of pain and issues, therapists should assist clients in “developing a language of strengths,” according to a Harvard Mental Health Letter. 

As a result, positive psychology provides those who want to overcome mental health difficulties with helpful concepts and practices. Here’s how it might function for just three of these challenges:

People who suffer from depression frequently have a  low opinion of themselves and are subject to relentless negative self-talk, which keeps them stuck in this mood condition. Positive psychology therapies that can help people overcome this and stop thinking depressively include: 

  • Deciding on their greatest skills and coming up with creative, tiny ways to leverage them every day with the therapist.
  • Every night before you go to bed, write in your journal three things that went well that day, no matter how small they may appear. 
  • Writing a letter of thanks to someone who has made a significant impact on your life and either visiting them in person or contacting them and reading the letter to them will help them connect with that person and combat the distress.

People who are anxious often feel stuck and unable to live their lives without anxieties and fears. It inhibits people from engaging in as much physical activity as they would like to and from meaningfully interacting with others. Interventions in positive psychology can assist people in overcoming anxiety and fear and starting to become more active in their lives. Several instances include: 

  • Finding meaningful things that you enjoy and that help you enter a state of flow, committing to doing them regularly, and taking control of your leisure to stop negative thoughts from taking over when your mind isn’t engaged. 
  • Tracking your thoughts in a notebook or on your phone and noting when they aren’t filled with worries and fears may help you recognize that anxiety can be reduced.
  • establishing daily rituals to begin and finish your day in a peaceful, upbeat manner, such as taking a time to think about what you are grateful for, making an aim for the day, or noting upbeat people and events, can help.

To improve the mental health and well-being of officers, soldiers, and veterans, including those with PTSD, Martin Seligman led a program with the U.S. Army. Seligman and positive psychology place a strong emphasis on post-traumatic growth—the capacity for individuals to not only cope with pain but also use it as a springboard for personal progress and success. 3,19 Therapists who work with patients who have PTSD apply the fundamental ideas of positive psychology to their treatment: 

  • Discover the new meanings and modify their behavior to live in accordance with the values they recognize.
  • Advance spiritually (in a way that is significant to them, be it religious or otherwise).
  • Improve and strengthen ties and connections.
  • Restore or improve bodily health.

Working with a therapist who practices positive psychology can assist you in refocusing your attention on what is positive in your life (away from negativity and problems to optimism and potential), identifying your strengths and learning how to use them, and building a meaningful and purposeful life. This is true regardless of the mental health challenge you may be facing.


  • Child and Adolescent Counseling

Although positive psychology has made considerable progress in its clinical applications, there is less research on applying it to children and adolescents than there is on adults. According to research, it is very beneficial to use positive psychological principles early in childhood, and the positive effects can last a lifetime. Several positive psychological constructs have been incorporated into current treatment approaches for children and adolescents. For instance, it has been shown that preschool-aged children who experienced positive affect regularly were more likely to initiate positive interactions with others, be accepted by peers, and adjust well to the classroom. Incorporated within cognitive behavior play therapy are emotional control, good feelings, and strengths.

With the aid of a cooperative team, Positive Behavioral Support (PBS) was created to enhance the quality of life by incorporating consequence-based tactics that make use of reinforcement, instructional processes that encourage skill development, functional assessment, and preventative strategies.

 Positive psychology research has shown that strengths-based interventions, particularly those employed with residential and inpatient populations, can effectively address mental health issues. At-risk youth were the target audience for Smith’s (2006) Strengths-Based Counseling Model, which was developed for this purpose. With adolescents and families from different backgrounds, a strengths-based approach has a number of advantages, according to Lee (2010), including empowerment, shared purpose, and a stronger commitment to therapy. Strengths directed toward others (such as kindness, teamwork, and leadership) predicted fewer depressive symptoms, and transcendence strengths (such as meaning, love, and leadership) predicted greater life satisfaction in adolescents. Treatment that started with a strengths-based assessment and was carried out by a therapist who was focused on strengths produced significant treatment gains.

  • Couple and Family Counseling 

Good family relationships are regularly shown to contribute to a fulfilling life. Wide-ranging advantages come from having supportive relationships. The happiest people do, in fact, build solid, supportive relationships. Positive psychology interventions have a lot to offer in terms of improving relationships, particularly in combating the problem of long-term partnerships’ declining relationship satisfaction with time. Due to the constant link between positive affect and relationship satisfaction, positive affect has been a significant relational intervention result.

  • Group Counseling

Group therapy forms work well with positive psychology. Focusing on virtues, strengths, mindfulness, and approach goals that create a non-shaming atmosphere for growth is advantageous for positive psychology groups. Training in mindfulness appears to be the group strategy for well-being that has received the most investigation. In a 2004 metaanalysis, Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt, and Walach discussed the advantages of group mindfulness instruction. Numerous further studies on mindfulness have now been published. Seligman et al. (2006) found that groups that emphasize teaching approach goals, developing gratitude, enhancing optimism, providing positive psychology ideas, and positive psychotherapy group treatment have better outcomes.

  •  Career Counseling

Core Vocational Theories and Positive Psychology in Relation to a long-standing basic value of counseling psychology is the advancement of the career. The overlap between positive psychology and vocational psychology also has a long history because positive psychology contains many ideas that are present in vocational psychology, such as a focus on client development, abilities, and strengths. 

Core vocation theories have become more clearly linked to positive psychological concepts over time. For instance, according to Robitschek and Woodson (2006), Super’s (1980) life-span, life-space theory of professional development tackles a number of ideas that are essential to positive psychology, such as work, love, and play. The focus of Super’s theory is on how different life roles—like citizen and worker—emerge over the course of a person’s lifespan.

Focusing on clients’ strengths, assets, and potentialities regardless of the severity of their psychopathology is a distinguishing trait and common thread in the work of counseling psychologists. As a result, counseling psychology seems to be a natural fit for positive psychology. It improves psychology, and both branches of psychology complement one another.

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