What do you do when you don't reach your goals? Who do you turn to when everything is going great in your life, but something seems to be missing?
You know you want or can do more, but you can't quite put your finger on what it is. You read about flow and mindfulness. People talk about getting "tough" and feeling sorry for themselves.
More than twenty years ago, people did not have the opportunity to see a therapist who focused on these issues or concepts. This is the realm of positive psychology. Practitioners, trainers, teachers, social workers and other professionals now have access to a wealth of research-backed material to help people thrive and thrive.
In this article, we've shared 19 resources to use with your customers. If you are not a mental health coach or professional but still want to explore what positive psychology has to offer, you can also usethe characteristics.
One of the essential aspects of positive psychology is its focus on what's going well and how you can bring more of it into your life. You can do this yourself or with a psychologist.
Before we go any further, we thought you might like itDownload our three positive psychology exercises for free. These science-backed exercises examine fundamental aspects of positive psychology, including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and give you the tools to improve the well-being of your clients, students, or employees.
This article contains:
- Application of positive psychology in therapy
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Popular Positive Psychology Techniques
- A look at the application of positive psychology to children
- 4 activities for kids based on positive psychology
- 5 useful reviews, tests and quizzes
- 3 Positive Psychology Activities Every Helping Professional Needs
- A message to take away
Application of positive psychology in therapy
The main goal of psychotherapy is to help the person overcome their blocks. These blocks can be the result of negative behaviors or thought patterns. They can also develop from dysfunctional relationships with other people. Regardless of the cause, therapists work with the person to resolve the issues. The common element is that the problems negatively affect the well-being of the person.
The goal of positive psychology is to help peoplebloom. It is an investigation of what makes life worth living (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). The approach is useful and beneficial for a wide variety of living conditions.
There are many different positive psychological techniques and tools used by therapists. A central theme of the approach is giving the person space to trust that the answers they seek lie within themselves. The person is the expert on themselves, not the therapist.
A few years ago, Martin Seligman, one of thethe founding fathersof Positive Psychology, explained how to use Positive Psychology in a therapeutic relationship. He described positive psychology as a "complement" to traditional therapy (Psychotherapy.net, 2009). Seligman points out that conventional therapy is compatible with positive psychology techniques.
The therapist and trainer Robert Biswas-Diener (2010) developed a positive diagnostic system. This system is a checklist similar to that traditionally usedDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
The positive diagnostic system helps therapists work more effectively with their clients. Biswas-Diener defined five axes to guide the interaction between therapist and client.
- Skills (strengths, interests and resources)
- future orientation
- situational benefactors
- sense of mission
In your bookPracticing Positive Psychology Coaching: Assessment, Activities, and Strategies for Success, Biswas-Diener (2010) describes a variety of tools for each axis. For example, he suggests the Life Satisfaction Scale to assess well-being. For the future axis of orientation, Biswas-Diener recommends using the Adult Hope Scale.
Another area to explore is Universal Assessments (UA). These are the judgments we make about the universe as a whole (Clifton, 2013). We express them in our words and our behavior. For example, if you often say or share something specificOthers, will likely show you an AU that is important to you.
In the moviemother aunt(DaCosta, 1958), mother says: "Life is a celebration and most poor fools starve!What do you think is an AU she believes about the world? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
As a therapist, you can work with clients to identify their AUs. The client can then learn how their AUs impact their daily lives. Some might be helpful to you while others might keep you from achieving your goals.
Frequently Asked Questions
The most frequently asked question is:What is positive psychology?" followed by, "Does it really work?”
Positive psychology is a well-researched field with over 20 years of research.researcherlearn everything from increasing well-being to building resilience. If you want to become a more compassionate person or experience flow, there's evidence-based research to show you how. If you want to live and thrive more fully, a positive psychological approach can help.
When people ask if positive psychology works, they might be curious about the tools and techniques. For example, does loving-kindness meditation make a person more compassionate? He doesenjoyHelp a person appreciate the little things more?
A good introduction to positive psychology research isPositive Psychology: The Science of Happiness and Prosperity(Compton & Hoffman, 2013), covering a wide range of topics including:
- Introduction to positive psychology(dimension, scope, themes, history)
- Basics: Emotion, motivation and the nature of well-being
- subjective well-being
- Leisure, flow, attention and top performance
- love and wellbeing
- positive health
- Excellence, aesthetics, creativity and genius
- Lifelong wellbeing
- optimal well-being
- Religion, Spirituality and Wellbeing
- Positive institutions and cultural well-being
- The future of positive psychology
EmPositive neuropsychology: Evidence-based perspectives on promoting cognitive health, Randolph (2013) includes:
- What is positive neuropsychology
- Coping with neurological diseases
- Promotion of executive functions
- modifiable lifestyle factors
- Technologies for evaluation
EmPositive psychology as social changeThe central question of Biswas-Diener (2011) is: "How can we use positive psychology to achieve lasting world change that benefits everyone?The collection of essays and research answers this question in sections that address:
- public order
- The organization
- focus on others
- Social change interventions
- Change the world
EmConscience,Acceptance and Positive Psychology: The Seven Foundations of Wellbeing, Kashdan and Ciarrochi (2013) share the knowledge of several opinion leaders in this field.
- Kristen Neff talks about self-compassion and acceptance and attachment therapy.
- Eric Garland and Barbara Fredrickson explain how mindfulness affects meaning.
- Ian Stewart enlightens readers on perspective taking.
- Lance McCracken explains the measures taken.
- All is not rosy, Mairead Foody, Yvonne Barnes-Holmes and Dermont Barnes-Holmes examine the downside of positive psychological interventions.
There is something for everyone interested in mindfulness and acceptance.
EmPositive Organizing: Breaking free from conventional cultures, constraints and beliefs, Quinn (2015) gives practical advice on how to create and maintain a positive culture. Talk about the traditional mind map that hinders progress and change.
For Quinn (2015), an organization that believes that hierarchy and control are the keys to success creates more constraints. The goal is to create positive mind maps.
Quinn (2015) refers to the creation of a culture in which people "thrive and exceed expectations.” This mind map assumes that people are capable, full of potential, and eager. It's a short read of 116 pages. Each chapter ends with actions and ideas that allow the reader to better absorb the material.
For practitioners there is alsoPositive Psychotherapy: The Clinician's Handbookby Tayyab Rashid and Martin Seligman (2018). The first part of the book discusses what positive psychotherapy is and is not. Readers can also learn about interventions and theoretical assumptions. Symptoms, strengths, practices and processes are presented. The second part includes 15 session-by-session workouts.
Each of these books covers a wide range of questions you may have about positive psychology. Feel free to leave your question in the comments if it isn't answered.
Popular Positive Psychology Techniques
Character strength interventionsby Ryan Germany (2018) is a fabulous resource.
Filled with a variety of research-backed activities, you're sure to find something to suit your needs.
Niemiec invites readers to reproduce the tools for personal or customer use. This is just a small part of what awaits you:
mental Subtractionit envisions your life without one of your core strengths. The purpose of this activity is to help us appreciate our strengths more and promote happiness and well-being (Niemiec, 2018).
Visualize yourself using force now. Be detailed. Imagine what your life would be like if you didn't use this power. For example, if curiosity is a strength for you, what would your day be like without it? How would their absence affect your relationships or work?
summary of lifeIt is an opportunity to write how you would like others to remember you. Specifically, how would you like your grandchildren to remember you? What stories do you want them to hear about you? Write a short paragraph and set it aside for a few days. What strengths of character emerge from the analysis? Do they show up in your everyday life now? If not, what changes can you make to make it that way?
When was the last time you thought about itWhat Matters MostTo the Lord? For this activity, imagine what a particular area of your life will be like six months to a year from now. You can choose an area that is already strong or one that is not. Imagine this area getting better or stronger.
Create an intention that focuses your energy in that area. For example, you can improve your health by ause, or become more efficient at work. Using your top five strengths, list how each can help you achieve your purpose. Now you have five different plans to get closer to what matters most to you.
Isthree good thingsPractice increases gratitude. It helps us appreciate the little things in our daily interactions (Niemiec, 2018). At the end of the day, write down three things that went well and why. Do this for a week.
Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, and Schkade (2005) found that doing this once a week makes people happier than doing it three times a week, perhaps because the activity stays fresh and engaging. The point is, if you want to increase your happiness, practice gratitude beyond just saying "thank you."
A look at the application of positive psychology to children
Magyar-Moe, Owens, and Conoley (2015) discuss the incorporation of multiple positive psychological constructs into more popular treatment approaches. These includeemotional regulation, positive emotions, and strengths integrated with cognitive behavioral therapy, positive behavioral support, and positive family intervention.
They also highlight the Penn Resilience Program (PRP). The purpose of this program is “to increase the resilience of children and young people in dealing with everyday stressors“ (Magyar-Moe et al., 2015). The 12-week program includes skits, games, cartoons and stories. PRP uses the Ellis ABC model to increase the use of cognitive skills to build resilience. According to the authors, PRP achieves the following:
- Decreased cognitions related to depression and negative thoughts.
- Reducing the symptoms of depression.
Their review also includes the impact of several specific interventions, including:
- Mighty Me: This technique teaches children to externalize their worries. This allows the child to control their worries because they see them as outside themselves.
- Circle of Friends: This is a peer group intervention designed to increase the social acceptance of children with special needs.
- Write and deliver a thank you note: This helped children who had low positive affect.
- Writing down five things they were grateful for every day for two weeks resulted in reports of greater well-being.
- Draw pictures of your best possible selfincreased general self-esteem.
covitality is oneModel and measure of positive mental health in children and adolescents’ (Magyar-Moe et al., 2015) and acts as a counterweight to the traditional comorbidity approach. The model developed by researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara is based on strengths. It contains four circuit diagrams of its own:
- emotional competence
- endangered life
- believe in others
Here is an introduction to the covitality framework.
Boman, Mergler, and Pennell (2017) found that covitality is a strong predictor of well-being and depression. They also found that focusing on one or two of the constructs isn't as effective as all four combined. They suggest that interventions in secondary schools should focus on all four constructs.
4 activities for kids based on positive psychology
Some activities are more effective than others for children and young people.
This is due to their age and development. With that in mind, here are a few to consider.
AGlass of GratitudeIt's a fun way to capture experiences we're grateful for. This can be a useful project for everyone. You will need a vase or bowl, decoration materials, and blank sheets of paper. At the end of each day, write three things or experiences on three separate sheets of paper. Be sure to include why you're grateful for each one, and then place it in the jar. You might want to read them alone or with your child once a week.
Author and mindfulness expert Chris Bergstrom (2018) and his son created a fun activity using music. Choose a set of songs that your child or students will enjoy. Decide what sounds, emotions, or other cues you want him to listen for. Just pick one or two. Every time they hear the signal they raise their thumb and earn a point. For example, you can ask them to find:
- Feelings like sadness, joy or fear.
- Specific sounds like percussion
- Specific Instruments
- a word that is repeated
This teaches children to focus and perceive sounds, and increases their sensory awareness.
Use oTom 5to teach exerciseemotional regulation, OfLearn to measure here. Instruct the child to place one hand on your lap, table, or other surface with fingers spread. Use the index finger of the other hand to trace each digit on the resting hand. As your index finger moves up the outside of the thumb, the child inhales. As the finger runs along the inside of the thumb, the child exhales.
Repeat this pattern with each finger. When the child has completed a cycle, ask how they are feeling before you begin. A modified version of this for teens and adults makes a fist. Extend one finger at a time. Perform a full breath cycle (on/off) and then extend another finger. Do this until you release each finger.
Bergstrom (2018) has another 147 ideas to try in his book,The best mindfulness activity book.
Understanding one's purpose can begin as early as adolescence. Researchers Timothy Reilly and William Damon (cited in Froh & Parks, 2013) have developed a thought-provoking activity that uses interviews as a starting point. The brief purposeful interview consists of 10 questions:
- What is important to you? What are you worried about? what do you care
- how do you spend your time
- What would you like to be different in the world?
- What could you do to make the world like this?
- Can you rank the different values and goals you talked about in order of importance?
- Why is one value or goal more important than others?
- How do you show that your purpose or value matters?
- How long has this goal or value been important to you?
- How do you plan to engage with that goal or value, and for how long?
- How does your purpose or value affect your life?
The first six questions help the respondent to identify the things that are important to them. The final four questions focus on the values or goals shared by the respondent at the outset. Use the last few questions for each goal or value that the respondent identified. During the interview, the interviewer creates a mind map for the interviewee. This is communicated to the respondent so that adjustments can be made if necessary.
5 useful reviews, tests and quizzes
The first suggestions come from the book by Ryan Niemiec (2018),Character Strength Interventions: A Practitioner's Guide.
IsVIA Strengths of Character Surveyis the benchmark character assessment survey. Each question shows the strengths that a person uses most, when needed, and less often. The beauty of this assessment is the realization that everyone has 24 strengths of character to varying degrees. We can choose to "bend" some and not others. We can also choose to develop our Top Five or Bottom Five further.
The survey, created by renowned researchers, is suitable for young people and adults and is available in several languages. Several demographics report liking the strengths approach of the VIA survey, including veterans and those with mental illness (Niemiec, 2018).
The youth version of the VIA Character Strengths Survey is for ages 10-17. It consists of a series of questions designed to help young people discover their five strengths. Children under the age of 13 require parental consent.
Strengths of character 360it's like a more traditional 360 degree feedback. Client provides 10 or more people they know with a list describing the 24 strengths. People don't have to know the person well. They fill out the form by choosing five to seven strengths they see in the person.
After receiving the feedback, the customer compares the observations with the VIA results. At this point, the person is looking for three things:
- Company Strengths: Which strengths match your search results?
- Potential Blind Spots: What have others seen that you haven't seen?
- Potential Opportunities: What have you seen in yourself that others have not seen?
Life satisfaction scale— This widely used tool helps individuals establish a baseline of well-being. It can also shed light on how a person's well-being changes over time. Likert scores range from 7 for “strongly agree” to 1 for “strongly disagree”. The scale is short and includes only the following five statements:
- In many ways my life is close to ideal.
- My living conditions are excellent.
- I am satisfied with my life.
- So far I have achieved the things I wanted to achieve in life.
- If I could live my life again, I wouldn't change a thing.
Add up the points. A score of 20 is neutral, and anything above that indicates more happiness. “Normal” values are 21 to 25 (Biswas-Diener, 2010).
As a clinician or coach, you can use follow-up questions to help your client identify areas of growth. Biswas-Diener (2010) offers several suggestions including:
- How have your ideals changed?
- What areas of your life are going well?
- What are the things you have accomplished that you value most?
The positive and negative experience scale –This scale is a way of measuring a person's emotional state. It could be an activity in its own right or something used at different points in the therapeutic relationship to see how your client is functioning in that moment (Biswas-Diener, 2010).
It measures the positive, negative and affective balance. On a scale from 1 (very rarely or never) to 5 (very often or always), the person rates their feelings as follows:
- parts list
Scores for positive or negative feelings can range from 6 to 30. For positive feelings, add up the scores for the following items: positive, good, nice, happy, cheerful, and satisfied.
Do the same with negative feelings: negative, bad, uncomfortable, sad, fearful, and angry. To arrive at an affective balance score, subtract the negative feelings score from the positive feelings score. This can be between -24 and 24.
there are many differencesRatings, tests and quizzesavailable for therapists and others. The books mentioned in this article are a good starting point for identifying the best ones.
3 Positive Psychology Activities Every Helping Professional Needs
Looking for free worksheets to support your practice? Be sure to download oursExercise pack Positive Psychology, which includes three versatile activities you can use with your customers today.
Let's take a look at what's included in each.
- Compassionate chair work
This exercise is based onPrinciples of schema therapyTo help clients to learn a different way of dealing with their inner critical voice. In doing so, the client moves between two chairs while engaging in dialogue with different parts of themselves to better understand how they work together, contradict each other, and feel when experienced in the present.
- the wheel of power
This exercise invites clients to visualize the gap between the extent to which they are using their strengths and the extent to which they are using themit could. This exercise effectively provides clients with instant visual feedback on the use of their strengths and can facilitate discussion of plans to increase or optimize the use of their strengths.
- goal action research
This exercise guides clients through a three-step process to identify their core values and barriers to living more aligned with those values in four areas of life. As part of the exercise, clients will identify steps they can take in their daily lives to enable a more values-based life.
Get access to all three exercises with detailed facilitation instructions fromDownload the practice pack.
A message to take away
Positive psychology is a growing field that is attracting the attention of therapists around the world.
Many of the tools and practices influence the actions of leaders in organizations large and small. Anyone can benefit from the available evidence-based resources.
It's never too late to experience an increase in well-being, to become more resilient or to experience flow. These are just three benefits of incorporating positive psychological practices into a therapeutic relationship.
How do you use positive psychology to inform your practice? If you are not a psychiatrist, how can positive psychology practices help you? Let us know in the comments. We are happy to hear from them! Thank you for reading.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. do not forgetDownload our three positive psychology exercises for free.
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