The field of Positive Psychology has been expanding significantly in recent years for good reason! Not surprisingly, psychologists now know that happy people are more productive, more creative, have better relationships and are more successful. This is exciting for my clients as well as for me as a therapist, as I often felt traditional psychotherapy was very useful, but somewhat limited to just the relief of emotional pain. Traditional therapy primarily focused on alleviating depression and anxiety, etc. – and often with great success. However, the point at which a person feels “back to normal” is often the standard end point. I wanted a way to give my patients more.
Most of us want to live our best life possible – by enjoying the day to day, as well as experiencing positive feelings like excitement, love, peace, happiness, relaxation and joy as often as we can. The first steps in therapy include valuable aspects of traditional psychotherapy, as relief from depression, anxiety, and other difficulties are often what brings a person to seek therapy. Early on in treatment, though, the shift toward teaching positive thinking and optimism begins. And yes, optimism CAN be learned – even if you are a pessimist or, as many refer to themselves, a realist. Optimism is not ignoring reality – far from it! And it is a much more enjoyable way to go through life. You can learn more about Positive Psychology by visiting the websites listed to right. At the University of Pennsylvania, Martin Seligman, Ph.D., is a great resource for information, scientific research and ongoing studies. There are other many other resources, including IPPA, an association for the practitioners and researchers of Positive Psychology.
The Gifts of Imperfection – Brene Brown, Ph.D.
The Happiness Advantage – Shawn Achor, Ph.D.
Authentic Happiness – Martin Seligman, Ph.D.
The How of Happiness – Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D.
Positivity – B. Fredrickson, Ph.D.
Enjoy Life: Healing with Happiness – Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D.
Learned Optimism – Martin Seligman, Ph.D.
Flourishing – Martin Seligman, Ph.D.
The International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) describes the field in this way:
“Positive psychology is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play. Positive Psychology has three central concerns: positive emotions, positive individual traits, and positive institutions. Understanding positive emotions entails the study of contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for the future. Understanding positive individual traits consists of the study of the strengths and virtues, such as the capacity for love and work, courage, compassion, resilience, creativity, curiosity, integrity, self-knowledge, moderation, self-control, and wisdom. Understanding positive institutions entails the study of the strengths that foster better communities, such as justice, responsibility, civility, parenting, nurturance, work ethic, leadership, teamwork, purpose, and tolerance.”