Discovery

What is Positive Psychology?

By March 5, 2015

Today’s psychology focus is on Positive Psychology. You will love this approach If:

  • You desire a positive take on old re-occurring problems.
  • You are an optimistic person who wants to go from good to great.
  • You have suffered a traumatic event and sense it is a huge growth opportunity.

positive-psychologyPositive Psychology began as a movement in 1998 with the work of Martin Seligman, however, the term was coined much earlier though during the humanistic psychology movement of the 1950s-70s.

Positive Psychology advances the early theories and practices of the humanistic movement contained in the works of Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Erich Fromm and Jean Houston. The humanistic (or what some refer to as the human potential movement) sees people as more than the sum of their parts; its approach puts a greater confidence in the strength, immediate potential, and positive qualities of individuals that results in more action-oriented techniques.

Some consider Positive Psychology a cognitive therapy approach, because it deals with changing one’s negative and limiting thoughts, resulting feelings and self-defeating actions.

Positive psychology is an empirically based highly quantified approach. The research in this area focuses on positive human development rather than focusing on problems only. Its philosophy and practices are aimed at identifying strengths so as to increase well-being for individuals as well as organizations. You will find these techniques used by life coaches, counselors, the centerpiece of a growing number of public school curriculums, business strategists, and within corporate team-building approaches.

Positive Psychology approaches emphasize increasing your awareness of the following:

*how you experience positive feelings (relationships, recreation, work, family, etc.)

*how you experience what Carl Rogers termed the “Good Life” – when you are in a state of positive engagement with your world

*how you derive a sense of well-being in relation to your sense of belonging and purpose (social groups, work, your affiliations)

What happens in a Positive Psychology counseling session?

Counselors utilize exercises to increase your happiness by doing something that increases the ratio of your positive to negative emotions. Dozens of interventions exist; here is just a sampling:

  • Fordyce’s Happiness Training Program (FHTP): 14 fundamentals of happiness organized in these categories: change your activities; change your thinking; nurture relationships; value personal growth; decrease negative emotions.
  • Hope Training: a process for goal development associated with cultivating beliefs that you can meet the goal by becoming more realistic
  • Three Good Things: a journal activity where you document three good things that happened in a day and their causes
  • Best Future Self: an active imagination in which you see yourself having accomplished all of your goals and the satisfaction and happiness that brings
  • Post Traumatic Growth (PTG): a technique used to promote resilience and positive if you have suffered a traumatic event
  • Gratitude Exercise: on a daily basis write down three things you are grateful for
  • Counting Kindness: writing down acts of kindness you have received

Resources for further exploration

Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman

What is Positive Psychology, What is it Not? from Psychology Today

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