What is Positive Psychotherapy
Positive Psychotherapy is a relative new and successful evidence based therapy that derives from the rapidly growing positive psychology movement. Complementing the person-centred approach, positive psychotherapists believe that you are your own best expert on yourself, and you have within yourself the psychological resources for personal development and growth. Your positive psychotherapist works with the hypothesis that psychopathologies such as depression, anxiety and avoidance can be treated effectively not only by reducing negative symptoms or perceived deficits, but also by directly and primarily building positive emotions, character strengths, resilience and meaning. In other words, we provide a balanced approach by focusing on what is right with you, not what you consider is wrong.
The central premise of positive psychotherapy is that accentuation of the positive influences on your life, such as your positive character strengths and optimistic emotions, along with amelioration of symptoms of your psychological distress, is a better therapeutic approach to establishing and maintaining positive mental health and psychological wellbeing.
The approach aims to resource you to identify your happiness moment to moment, rather than with hindsight. Clients who receive positive psychotherapy can experience a greater sense of joy and liberation during their current life circumstances, and they strive to stay focused on the positive emotions they experience in the present moment.
Is Positive Psychotherapy Suitable for Me?
Results of scientific studies show that positive psychotherapy is effective in reducing symptoms of psychological distress and enhancing well-being. It is proven to perform equally well when compared with well-established treatments such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) or dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT). Positive psychotherapy integrated with trauma focused cognitive behaviour therapy is effective in treating the emotional pain associated with childhood and adult trauma. Here are some specific issues where positive psychotherapy has proven to be beneficial in creating a more meaningful and fulfilling life and career:
- Low self-esteem
- General anxiety
- Suicidal ideation
- Life changing health issues
- Divorce, separation and loss
- Career satisfaction
What Does Positive Psychotherapy Entail?
The aim of positive psychotherapy is to support you in identifying your innate resilience, discovering new insights, and moving you beyond the pain and suffering associated with psychopathologies such as anxiety, depression, traumatic stress and loss.
During therapy, your therapist will help you to articulate a balanced narrative to your personal story by exploring your character strengths and positive attributes from different perspectives. This will enable you to frame personally meaningful goals using your unique character strengths. From there, your therapist will focus on cultivating positive emotions and confronting, in a supportive way, maladaptive behaviours, negative memories, experiences, and feelings which are keeping you stuck—impeding your ability to move toward growth and happiness. Finally, we explore healthy relationships and the processes which facilitate and nurture these relationships, and on exploring their meaning and purpose.
During therapy, when negative and uncomfortable emotions arise within you, your therapist attends to them empathically, with warmth and understanding, and never minimise or mask as positives, unavoidable negative events and experiences such as abuse, neglect and suffering.
How Can I Benefit from Positive Psychotherapy?
Because positive psychotherapy develops character strengths, positive emotions, resilience and optimism, it is proven to have several positive effects on alleviating an individual’s symptoms of distress. It can also:
- Improve mood and reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Improve your ability to manage stress.
- Positively change your learnt mindset.
- Enhance your interpersonal relationships.
- Help you process and reduce feelings like shame, guilt, insecurity, helplessness and hopelessness.
- Increase your level of self confidence in your ability.
- Improve your self-awareness leading to a higher state of consciousness.
- Increase your resilience.
- Increase your positive emotions and behaviours.
- Assist you to confidently express yourself and how you feel.
- Increase your subjective wellbeing or how you experience the quality of your life.
Are There Limitations to Positive Psychotherapy?
Positive psychotherapy is not a panacea, nor is it appropriate for all people in all situations. It is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. It is an active therapy requiring you to engage in or complete home exercises. These insightful exercises are designed re-educate your attention, memory, and expectations away from the negative and catastrophic, and toward the positive and optimistic outcomes. If the completion of short written tasks between sessions feels uncomfortable for you, then perhaps you may be more comfortable commencing therapy with the non-directive person-centred approach.
Additional Positive Therapeutic Interventions
Quality of Life Therapy
Time Cure Therapy
Clinical Approach to Post Traumatic Growth