Well, positive psychology is a sub-field of psychology that doesn’t solely focus on what’s wrong, but rather on the strengths of the individual and how they can use them to improve their lives! (UWIOC, 2018)
Hey doc! In doing my research for this whole therapy thing, I came across "positive psychology". Can you tell me what that is?
The idea of living life to its fullest potential has been around since philosophers discussed morality and virtues from 470 BC to 322 BC. The Christian Church also promoted virtuous behaviour to find happiness, a concept that carried over into the Renaissance and the Enlightenment (UWIOC, 2018).
Oh wow, that sounds interesting! How did that come about?
In the 1950s, Abraham Maslow founded humanistic psychology, whose focus was on studying healthy individuals (UWIOC, 2018). Martin Seligman later gave a speech on the need for a new sub-field for the specific study of the talents, strengths, and positive traits of individuals, and how these variables can be built upon to improve well-being, or positive psychology (Hefferon & Boniwell, 2011).
That was so long ago, though. What about modern times?
The Broaden-and-Build Theory introduces the concept of the broadening effect, which is where our minds open up upon experiencing positive emotions, allowing for more creative and rational thinking, and the building effect, which is where already broadened minds can be further enhanced by building on intellectual, physical,social and psychological resources (Hefferon & Boniwell, 2011).
That’s so interesting! So what kind of things do positive psychologists implement into their clients’ therapy?
That’s right! There’s also the Need/Goal Satisfaction theory, which states that once we begin to feel less tense or stressed, we can achieve pleasure. The Process/Activity theory suggests that when we participate in certain activities, we can experience pleasure and happiness (Johnson, 2009).
That sounds refreshing! It really sounds like I can be in control of my own mind once I’m feeling happy.
That’s exactly right! This is what positive psychology is all about; building on the things you can do to feel even better about yourself and more satisfied with your life. I look forward to our next session!
Oh,you applied that last one to me! You suggested that I start exercising to helpwith my depression, and my mood has really improved! I’m going to go home to think about my strengths and how I can improve the skills I have. See you next week!