Positive Psychology: What's that all about?

If you’ve ever considered therapy, you likely are only too aware that we therapists do love to use ‘catchy’ terms like attachment theory, somatic therapy, CBT, DBT, family systems, solution oriented, interpersonal and psychoanalysis, when describing what we do. In this, series of blogs - the 'What the f%@! is that?' series - I'll be explaining some of the approaches and terms I use.

Next up: Positive Psychology

What is it?

Contrary to popular belief, positive psychology is not about being annoyingly upbeat and pollyanna-isa at all times. Trust me, that would drive me crazy too! Positive psychology is actually the study of what makes happy, successful or particularly resilient people, the way that they are! Armed with that information - which has been gathered through scientifically rigorous research and details how these people think and approach both the good and bad stuff in their lives - I can then help others become their happier, most successful and most resilient selves.

Why do I use it?

The foundation of positive psychology is in identifying and using strengths to solve problems and increase our fulfillment and I love that. So much of traditional psychotherapy is based on ‘fixing what’s wrong’ - and of course, I would never ignore that, but in everyone’s life there is so much that is right. We can use that right stuff for so much more than we typically do. I firmly believe that by only focusing on the negative we are blocking out a real sense of our own power and brilliance and that when we are in our strengths, our flow, we are at our very best. I love to find someone’s strengths and help them harness those strengths to blow through any pesky challenge that might be presenting itself.

How does it work?

There are many techniques and skills that I use in session with my clients that draw upon positive psychology, too many to mention here but here are a couple of classics to give you a sense of what this might look like in practice.

Strengths Assessment - using a strengths assessment developed by the godfather of positive psychology himself (Martin Seligman), we identify your 10 most prominent strengths. Once we have this information we can use it to brainstorm how each of these could be used more in upcoming situations of concern, allowing you to be in a position of strength even when facing something new or nerve wracking.

Gratitude Practice - identifying and journaling about things we are grateful for once a day for a two week period is proven to significantly improve our sense of happiness and satisfaction with life. 

Ideal Self Inquiry - through a series of specific prompt questions, create an image of your future ideal self based on your dreams, desires, strengths and values. Hang out mentally with this ideal self for a few minutes. This exercise is proven to aid people in taking action toward who they want to be and living in alignment with their values, which again, is proven to make people feel happier and more satisfied with their lives.

Want to check out how the practices of positive psychology could be applied to your life? Email me to schedule your free 20 minute consultation now: kim@hffwellness.com