Positive Psychology and It’s Application in Counseling + Worksheet to Explore Strengths

What is Positive Psychology?

The purpose of positive psychology is to better understand and use the elements that contribute to people and communities thriving and flourishing. Positive psychology is the scientific study of optimal human functioning (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Martin Seligman challenged applied psychologists to go back to their roots and concentrate on not only curing mental illness but also making people’s lives more productive and fulfilling as well as identifying and nurturing talent in his 1998 presidential address to American Psychological Association members. Beyond a strengths-based philosophical perspective, positive psychology has identified theories, structures, models, and interventions that may be used to advance that philosophical attitude in the therapy room.

In Simpler terms, Positive psychology is a subfield of psychology that focuses on the character traits and actions that enable people to have meaningful lives and flourish rather than just survive. The components of the good life have been sought by theorists and researchers on the subject. Additionally, they have suggested and put to the test methods for raising well-being and life satisfaction.

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Misconceptions Related to Positive Psychology

The idea that those who research and use positive psychology are naive or indulge in Pollyanna thinking, dismissing issues in life, failing to contextualize clients’ experiences, and concentrating solely on the positives, is a popular misperception about the field. Instead, positive psychologists are as concerned with controlling weaknesses and healing the worst aspects of life as they are with developing strengths and the best that life has to offer. Positive psychologists, particularly those who deal directly with clients, are equally concerned with assisting individuals who suffer from pathology in doing so, as they are in assisting those who are pathology-free in leading the most satisfying lives possible.

Positive psychologists emphasize the critical significance of researching and implementing knowledge about what benefits individuals and what factors protect them from pathology. They view the study of pathology to be significant and use the findings in their everyday work. Many counseling psychologists refer to positive psychology as “old wine in new bottles,” which is another misperception about it. Positive psychology is also not the same as counseling psychology. The notion that positive psychology is exclusive to the work of Martin Seligman and his colleagues is connected to the aforementioned fallacy. Many academics who research and use positive psychology do so using models and techniques that are either unconnected to Seligman’s models and techniques or that drastically diverge from these fundamental concepts. 

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Levels of Positive Psychology 

Positive psychology is frequently described as having three levels:

Subjective level: focuses on sentiments of joy, contentment, and optimism and how these emotions affect how you feel on a regular basis.

Individual level: a synthesis of sentiments at the subjective level and qualities like courage, love, and forgiveness

Group level: constructive community engagement, including the qualities of benevolence and social responsibility that bolster social ties

The Value of Positive Psychology

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.

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Positive psychology theories contend that one of life’s primary energies is positivity. Each of us frequently experiences both good and poor outcomes, but it often seems more comfortable to concentrate on the bad results and ignore the ways in which we may use the good things to make the bad things better. For all of its history, psychology science has been primarily concerned with the diagnoses that explain bad acts and patterns of behavior, the psychological flaws, and the abnormalities that distinguish certain people from others. These illnesses cover the mental health issues that many of us face, such as sadness and anxiety.

However, scientific justifications for constructive thoughts and behaviors are given increasing attention in positive psychology research. Positive psychology emphasizes that people’s talents and virtues should be given equal weight, even while it does not discount the existence of flaws and foibles in our ideas and conduct. Positive thinking also emphasizes a lot on flexible thinking as it helps individuals to explore their virtues, characters, strengths, and weaknesses with an unfiltered lens.

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Human nature includes the desire to grow as individuals and lead the best lives we can. We know that people are built to be joyful because they don’t wake up in the morning contemplating how they may have a horrible day. The problem is more with the route to happiness than with the desire to be happy. Positive psychology has created more “strength-based” and “positive” applications and research in the last two decades than ever before. Positive psychology is still producing evidence-based therapies to assist individuals in bettering themselves, and their lives in general, and realizing their true capacity for growth, which results in a thriving existence. Self-growth, self-development, and radical changes are a few areas where positive psychology dives deeper and produces research-based evidence, frameworks, models, and techniques to facilitate the same.

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fulfilling lives may 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 persons who have successfully recovered from drug addiction and encourage similar resilience in upcoming patients rather than examining the underlying characteristics connected with drug addiction.

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Applications of Positive Psychology in Counseling and Therapeutic Interventions

Positive psychology has a wide application in the field of counseling and therapy. Depending on the client and his or her presenting concerns, clinicians dealing with individual therapy clients may use one or more positive psychology-informed kinds of therapy as the primary form of treatment or supplement treatment as normal. Strengths-based counseling, strengths-centered therapy, quality-of-life therapy, well-being therapy, hope therapy, and positive psychotherapy are examples of formal positive psychological therapy models that have been described in the scholarly literature to date.

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Some of the widely used positive psychology-based therapies are:

  • Strengths-Based Counseling

An in-depth assessment of client’s perceptions of their problems is undertaken and clients are provided help in discovering their biological strengths (ie rest, nutrition, exercise), psychological (ie cognitive strengths such as problem-solving and problem-solving, emotional strength such as self-esteem), social strength (ie contact with friends and family), cultural strengths (ie beliefs, values ​​and positive racial identity), economic strength  (ie, having a job, having enough money to meet basic needs), and political (ie, equal opportunities). Solution-building dialogue, often using the principles of solution-focused dialogue is used for identifying the client’s most valuable strengths and reviewing progress.

  • Strengths-Centered Therapy

Strength-focused therapy integrates personal strengths and benefits (Peterson & Seligman, 2000) into the core of the counseling process. Over the course of weeks or months, clients go through four stages (explain, imagine, empower and develop). The explain stage is about validating the client’s concerns while highlighting strengths by helping the client identify their personality strengths. For example, customers may feel very sad. While acknowledging grief, the therapist emphasizes the power of hope that seeking treatment reveals. The visualization stage includes identifying strengths and their utility in achieving goals. The empowerment phase leads to motivation and empowerment as clients use their strengths to positively impact their lives. Finally, the developmental phase of strengths-Centered therapy ends and involves the process of making strengths a never-ending process that goes beyond the process of formal psychotherapy.

  • Quality of Life Therapy

The ideas of cognitive therapy and positive psychology are used in quality-of-life treatment to assist patients in identifying and moving closer to their requirements, objectives, and aspirations for a happy and full life. In the treatment phase, treatments tailored to each patient are a key component of quality-of-life therapy, which places an emphasis on a holistic perspective of life or life purpose. The client is represented using the 16 functional areas’ strengths and weaknesses, which are crucial to this therapy strategy and may be assessed using the Quality of Life Inventory (QOLI; Frisch, 199).

The problems highlighted by The five-factor model of life satisfaction are addressed by cognitive treatments in quality-of-life therapy. Four client-provided questions are used to assess satisfaction in any area of life: (a) objective circumstances, (b) subjective attitudes, (c) performance criteria, (d) the significance of the area to overall well-being, and (e) general life satisfaction. The goal of quality-of-life therapy is to help clients improve their overall contentment and sense of well-being by guiding them through significant life domains.

  • Well-being Therapy

Well-being Based on Ryff’s (1989) model of psychological well-being, therapy is a brief, structured, directive, and problem-oriented treatment program. Clients are informed about six dimensions of therapy: environmental mastery, personal growth, purpose in life, autonomy, self-acceptance, and positive relationships with others. By identifying their recent and past experiences with well-being, no matter how fleeting they may have been, clients are helped to advance from poor to high levels of functioning in each area. To increase awareness of instances of well-being and help clients in identifying unconstructive thoughts and opinions that the therapist challenges using cognitive approaches while encouraging behaviors. 

  • Hope Therapy

On the premise that emotions may be altered by addressing evaluations of efficacy in goal pursuits, several therapeutic modalities are developed. In order to improve clients’ perspectives of themselves, Hope Therapy, tries to help clients set objectives, provide numerous paths to accomplish goals, and generate a drive to pursue goals. Hope therapy is a succinct, semi-structured framework that concentrates on present goals by analyzing past triumphs. The major process of Hope Finding, Hope Bonding, Hope Enhancing, and Hope Reminding are addressed in the therapy in a detailed way

  • Positive Psychotherapy

In order to reduce psychopathology and promote happiness, positive psychotherapy focuses on helping clients develop their strengths, experience happy emotions, and find purpose in their lives. It is an empirically established approach to psychotherapy. In their conversations with clients, positive psychotherapists elicit and attend to good feelings and memories while simultaneously participating in discourse about client issues with the aim of integrating the positive and bad together (Rashid, 2008). There are 14 sessions of positive psychotherapy, including homework tasks. For instance, the emphasis of Sessions 1 and 2 is on helping the client identify their character qualities. The ideas of appreciation, forgiveness, optimism, love, attachment, savoring, and significance are covered in other sessions. When compared to standard care and standard care plus antidepressant medication, individual positive psychotherapy for depression clients has led to more happiness, fewer symptoms of depression, and more total remissions of depression 

  • Group Counseling 

Group therapy forms work well with positive psychology. Focusing on virtues, strengths, mindfulness, and approach objectives that create a non-shaming atmosphere for growth is advantageous for positive psychology groups. The most often studied group interventions for improving well-being seem to include positive psychotherapy group treatment, teaching approach objectives, building optimism, strengthening gratitude, and presenting positive psychology components. When combined with positive psychology and therapeutic techniques, these group approaches have demonstrated improved well-being.

  • Couple and Family Counseling

Good family ties are regularly shown to contribute to a fulfilling life. Supportive relationships offer a wide range of advantages, from a sense of purpose in life to strong immune systems and cardiovascular systems. The happiest individuals do, in fact, build solid, enduring connections. Positive psychology interventions can significantly improve relationships, particularly by preventing the relationship satisfaction decline that is a problem in long-term relationships. Due to the constant link between positive affect and relationship satisfaction, positive affect has been a significant relational intervention result.

The therapies aim to strengthen family members’ bonds, concentrate on common objectives, utilization of strengths, and pleasant emotions.

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  • Child and Adolescent Counseling

According to research, it is very beneficial to use positive psychological concepts early in childhood, and the good effects can last a lifetime. For instance, preschoolers were more likely to begin pleasant relationships with others, be welcomed by their peers, and settle in well in the classroom if they often experienced positive affect. Existing therapy plans for children and adolescents now include a number of positive psychological concepts. Cognitive behavior play therapy now incorporates emotional management, uplifting feelings, and strengths. With the aid of a cooperative team, positive behavioral support (PBS) was created to enhance the quality of life by using consequence-based tactics that make use of reinforcement, instructional processes that encourage skill development, functional assessment, and preventative strategies.

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