Psychology traditionally focusses on dysfunction: people with mental illness or other psychological problems and how to treat them. Positive Psychology however has a different emphasis. It is a relatively new branch of psychology and it focuses on helping the individual become happier
The basic principle of Positive Psychology is that human beings more often than not are drawn by the future rather than driven by the past. It does not seek to replace or ignore the fact that people experience very real problems nor does it dismiss the rest of psychology. It serves to complement and extend the tree of psychology that is predominantly problem focussed.
Positive Psychology began as a new area in psychology in 1998 when Martin Seligman, an American Psychologist, educator and author, chose it as his theme for his first term as president of the American Psychological Association.
There are three points that underpin Positive Psychology:
- What we find to be good in life is as genuine as those aspects that we find to be negative
- Being happy does not mean an absence of what we find challenging in life. But it does mean we can find a different way of dealing with those challenges.
- We can experience ‘The Good Life’ through identifying our unique virtues and strengths and utilising them in our lives to bring about what we truly want.
According to Seligman we experience three kinds of happiness:
- Pleasure and gratification
- The embodiment of strengths and virtues
- Finding true meaning and purpose in life.
Approaches from Positive Psychology may be used alongside other approaches as part of your treatment programme.
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