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Running head: POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND COUNSELLING 1
Positive Psychology and Counselling
Name of the student
Name of the university
Running head: POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND COUNSELLING 1
Positive Psychology and Counselling
Name of the student
Name of the university
POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND COUNSELLING 2
This paper discusses about the scientific foundation of positive psychology and the
emergence of positive psychology as a successful approach of intervention in the field of
psychology. This paper also delineates the position and relevance of positive psychology in
psychotherapy and counselling. A reflection on the use of positive psychology in an
individual ’spersonal and academic life is also included in this paper. The different modules
of positive psychological therapies are explained in brief. The effect of positive psychology
on the mental health is also understood. This paper concludes that positive psychology is an
emerging interventional procedure among different types of psychotherapies and can help
enhance overall mental wellbeing, resilience and optimism of an individual.
POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND COUNSELLING 3
Positive Psychology and Counselling
People in this millennium are more focused on material goals rather than on spiritual
goals. Centering one ’slife on materialistic needs might result in hopelessness and selfishness,
lack of insight about one ’sinner meaning and ultimately to despair and chaos. To our rescue,
behavioural and social sciences have played a magnificent role in defining a life that is
empirically sound yet individually suited. Psychologists have long engaged in guiding people
to actions that lead to positive living, general wellbeing, peace, and thriving communities.
Psychologists have come to conceptualize what exactly makes life worth living and how
individuals survive under extremely adverse environments. But most psychological theories
are concentrated on the pathological basis of human suffering and have focused exclusively
on attending to the damage to achieve healing. In this context, the main aim of positive
psychology is to redirect the focus of psychology from exaggerated preoccupation with
restoring the damaged to creating optimistic qualities and identifying inner strength as an
agency of transformation (Rashid, 2015).
Scientific foundations of Positive Psychology
The crux of positive psychology at the subjective level lies in the subjective
confluence of the past, the present, and the future –contentment, well-being, and satisfaction
in the past, hope, optimism, and meaning for the future, and the flow of happiness in the
present (Compton & Hoffman, 2019). At the individual level, positive psychology is all about
inculcating positive humane qualities like capacity to forgive, love, vocation, courage, sound
interpersonal skills, perseverance, originality, aesthetic sensibility, empathy, spirituality,
wisdom, and future mindedness (Lopez, Pedrotti & Snyder, 2018). At the community level, it
involves imbibing civic virtues in oneself like responsibility, altruism, nurturance, civility,
work ethics, moderation, and tolerance (Yates, Tyrell & Masten, 2015). The roots of positive
psychology can be traced back to the times of Second World War when people were going
POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND COUNSELLING 4
through the darkest period of their life and had lost the willingness to continue living. It
traces back to personal stories of the two main founding fathers of positive psychology. A
seemingly innocent statement by Martin Seligman ’syoung daughter Nikki, instigated him to
reflect upon the foundations of his principles and made him rethink his beliefs (Seligman,
2019). Through an epiphany, she taught her father that life is not only about being
mechanical and grumpy, and complaining about the absence rather life is all about finding
joy in what we already have.
During the Second World War, Csikszentmihalyi had come to realize that Europe
needed positive psychology. He wondered what might have kept the war survivors sustain
their integrity and purpose despite losing every ounce of strength and hope after the war. He
wanted to know their source of motivation and started ransacking through multiple books of
philosophy yet could not find his answers. Then he came across the emerging discipline of
psychology. By that time, he found in the US psychology had gained momentum as ascience,
rather than just promoting skepticicsm and concern about measurement. This made
Csikszentmihalyi restructure the implication of the field of psychology as not merely a
scientific study of behaviour, pathology, and impairment but also astudy of strength, virtues,
and positivity. He redefined psychology as not just a discipline that deals with medicine,
diagnosis and treatment but also a field that helps recognize one ’s inner values, one ’s
capacity to love, increase acceptance, and growth. Treatment of psychological distress is not
just about fixing the broken but about nurturing the best.
Seligman has successfully incorporated the groundbreaking contributions of other
scientists who have become an integral part of the positive psychology movement. This
includes Chris Peterson and his works related to the VIA classification of strengths and
virtues, Barbara Fredrickson for her works on positive emotions, Jon Haidt for his works on
positive moral emotions, and Suzanne Segerstrom for findings of impacts of optimism on
POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND COUNSELLING 5
physical health. Researches related to positive psychology can be traced back to the dates of
its origin. Historical evidence suggests that positive psychology has always been an
influential concept integrated in other schools of psychology like humanistic psychology
through the study of afully-functioning individual and self-actualisation, but has seldom been
recognised or celebrated (Magyar-Moe, Owens & Conoley, 2015). In the future, positive
psychology can flourish through integration with other approaches in psychology rather than
Reflection of Positive Interventions from aPersonal and Academic perspective
Life is a constant roller-coaster ride. There is no potential external buffer against
infirmity and suffering yet. While at some point, one takes life at its face value and at some
other points one is subjugated by life. One faces several circumstances in life when one feels
like escaping and giving up. As one ’s expectations cumulatively magnify, one gradually
shifts one's attention and concentration on external sources of pleasure. Pleasure, quite
surprisingly, never had external loci of control. But when materialistic, monetary, and
corporeal needs dominate one ’s mental and spiritual needs, one can experience
purposelessness, emptiness, and despondency. The subjective experience of unhappiness and
fruitlessness in life can drive even the most reasonable ones to hopelessness and despair.
When one ’sexpectations from oneself and others exceed realistic limits, he/she starts
to appraise negative meaning to his/her life and oneself. One starts believing that he/she is
incompetent, invaluable, inconsequent, worthless, and unlovable and that one ’slife is barren,
ineffectual and that one ’sgoals are stringent and unattainable. This negative view of oneself,
others, and the world often divert one ’sattention and focus on one ’sflaws, incapability,
drawbacks and bring about pessimism in life. The same person then starts to overemphasize
and remain preoccupied with the negatives. Over-preoccupation with the negative ideas often
leads to overgeneralization of them to different sectors of life. For instance, when one
POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND COUNSELLING 6
conceptualizes oneself as incapable, he/she tends to generalize this self-idea to all aspects of
his/her life like professional life, interpersonal life, personal life, and social life. Such patterns
of negative thoughts often create acognitive bias that survival is apervasive struggle and that
there are no alternative ways to construct life other than in a negative light. During these
dilemmas, what keeps one going is the ability to reconstruct one ’s negative views in a
positive light. Positive psychology is not about superficially replacing one ’s negative
attitudes, thoughts, beliefs and feelings with positive attitudes and reminding oneself “Iam
fine. ” and moving on. Positive psychology orients one to view every life situations as a
continuum and not as extremities of black and white. It helps one focus on positive
possibilities, positive ideas, and positive feelings alongside reducing overmagnification of
negative stimuli. When one puts too much energy trying to control facets in life that are
beyond one ’scontrol, itleads to emotional dysregulation, mental stress, and asense of loss of
control. Positive psychology teaches one to exercise control over what is controllable and
accept that which is uncontrollable. Hence, it helps one to compartmentalize one ’smental
energy to the alterable aspects of one ’slife and as aresult, reduce psychological distress. In a
sense, positive psychology helps an individual to highlight positivity in oneself and in one ’s
environment. This optimistic view towards life is brought about by recognizing one's
potential and actively working on improving one's frailties. Once one realizes one ’strue
potential, one will be able to efficiently solve problems rather than being worried about being
succumbed to the problem. Half the battle is own if apositive attitude can be adopted in the
face of any problem. The role of hope and self-confidence here is undeniable. Having an
unwavering self-confidence and self-belief can cause us to make appropriate use of our
virtues in solving aproblem.
People are surviving in an extremely unpredictable, chaotic and dystopian situation at
present. At this hour, one has to focus not on the fulfilment of one ’sunrealistic needs and
POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND COUNSELLING 7
expectations but use another very powerful element of positive psychology, gratitude, to
trudge through this conundrum. The author believes that gratitude can help and individual to
feel thankful for what one has achieved in the face of hardships instead of grieving
excessively over ones loss (Wong et al., 2018). A grateful perspective is of immense
importance in sustaining a positive attitude even in bleakness. When one successfully
inculcates the practice of forgiveness, gratitude, positive reframing, and positive appraisal
and adopts apositive attitude towards life, one becomes resilient to the force of uncertainty
(Griffin et al., 2015).
Not just in personal life, positive psychology can be implemented in several
institutional domains to foster general wellbeing. The current-gen (GEN Z) is the future
generation of the world. It is of paramount importance to ensure the physical and mental
wellbeing of our current youth population. For the same, across the globe, several countries
have directed their attention to the development of resilience and wellbeing of the youth
population, especially in the educational context, to secure the mental health of adolescents
and young adults (Brunzell, Stokes & Waters, 2016). Over the last two decades, researchers
have increasingly identified the complexities of learning in an institutional setup. Optimising
academic experiences involves establishing mental wellbeing of the students (Hayhurst et al.,
2015). But currently, aconsiderable section of the youth population is suffering from mental
illnesses resulting in deterioration in educational achievements. As success and happiness are
often measured by one ’sachievements, especially during one's academic life, failure to reach
ones educational goals can lead to alack of self-confidence, low self-esteem, worthlessness
and pessimism (Wani & Dar, 2017). On the contrary, favourable self-perceptions lead to
academic success. The relation between academic success and self-perceptions is bi-
directional (Chodkiewicz & Boyle, 2017). Therefore, if students can create positive self-
constructs by developing positive self-perceptions, acquiring adaptive thinking patterns,
POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND COUNSELLING 8
setting constructive goals and making realistic future predictions, their academics will
improve. Students, who are provided with constructive criticisms more often than negative
criticisms, are able to form more realistic self-perceptions than the others. Students who view
failure as an opportunity to learn rather than a measure of one ’spotentials also are more
resilient in the face of obstacles.
The author is of the firm belief that, be itin personal, academic, professional or social
life, adopting apositive outlook towards life with hope can provide one with the courage to
overcome any adverse situation. Doing so will help one create resilience, mental strength,
happiness and psychological wellbeing (Donaldson, Dollwet & Rao, 2015).
Position and Relevance of Positive Psychology as an approach in Counselling and
Psychotherapy and other types of counselling approaches are collectively focused on
the optimization of an individual ’s functionality. Components of positive psychology are
often integrated in other therapeutic modalities and not just in positive psychotherapy
(Marrero et al., 2016). Positive psychology has also been used as acomplementary approach
to traditional psychotherapy. Study findings state that the majority of student sample who
were asked about the utilisation of positive psychology in their practice or coursework
demonstrated a lack of familiarity with most or all of forty-four positive psychology
constructs. They endorsed the use of positive psychology in their counselling practice but
could not identify the theories or models they applied. This reflects atroublesome position of
positive psychology in psychotherapeutic interventions. The current state of positive
psychology shows an inclination towards its implementation as a strength-based
philosophical approach rather than as apositive psychological-based treatment approach.
However, several counselling approaches make use of positive psychology as a
guiding theory of intervention. Strength-based counselling makes use of positive psychology
POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND COUNSELLING 9
through three major stages. In stage one, astrong therapeutic alliance is created by helping
the client to identify present problems and recognize one's strengths. In stage two, clients are
taught to reframe their problems and life-events through a strengths perspective. In stage
three, adetailed assessment of the client ’sinterpretation of life problems is done. The client
is further facilitated if he/she can successfully unravel strengths at the biological (rest,
nutrition, exercise), economic (employment, sufficient money to obtain basic needs),
psychological (cognitive strength, emotional strength, self-esteem, self-confidence and
problem-solving capacities), social (family and peer ’s support), cultural (positive cultural
identity) and political levels (equal access to opportunity).
Strength-centered therapy focuses on validating the experiences of the client and
guiding client to recognise his/her strength in character and virtues (Li, Wong & Cawthra,
2019). This model follows there phases – explicitizing, envisioning, empowering and
evolving. Through explicitizing, the therapist validates the experience and the emotion
related to it and highlights the client ’s strengths. The envisioning stage involves the
recognising of one ’s strength and implementing them to accomplish set goals. The
empowering stage encourages the client to keep using their inner strengths to positively affect
one ’slife. Evolving phase is the last phase of psychotherapy in which the client is taught to
make strength-developmental acontinuous process that goes beyond the therapy.
Quality of life therapy uses positive psychology and cognitive therapy to assist clients
to discover needs and goals and progress towards these goals (Rostami, Abolghasemi &
Narimani, 2016). The major focus of the treatment is the 16 areas of functioning of the client
based on which his/her virtues and weaknesses are defined.
Hope therapy aims at using positive psychology to help clients create realistic and
attainable goals create several pathways to reach the goal. The clients are motivated by the
POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND COUNSELLING 10
therapists to pursue goals, the attainment of which enhances self-perceptions. Hope therapy ’s
objective is to assist the client in goal-generation and fulfilment by examining and comparing
past successes with present strengths. This is achieved through several steps like hope finding,
hope bonding, hope enhancing, and hope to remind (Cheavens & Guter, 2018). The hope
therapy helps the client increase hopeful thinking, use hopeful narratives and focus on
reducing negative behaviour and increasing positive behaviour.
The potential relationship between Positive Psychology and Mental Health
Studies have found apositive correlation between the use of positive psychology as
an interventional approach and long-term psychological wellbeing (Macaskill, 2016). It was
further noted that effects of positive psychotherapy lasted longer than the effects of other
forms of psychotherapies on people ’s lives. As positive psychology is aimed at self-
enhancement rather than clinical diagnosis and treatment of abnormalities, many people find
its applicability in their personal lives and not just in therapeutic set-ups. Expressing gratitude
has been shown to foster interpersonal relationships, improve mood and promote happiness
and life satisfaction. Individuals who practice gratitude are comparatively more optimistic
than those who do not. The act of gratitude involves being grateful for everything one has in
life. Gratitude improves one ’sability to accept reality, whether it’sharsh or not and move on
faster from negative experiences by identifying factors of life which cannot be manipulated.
Intervention of positive psychology in daily lives of people is imperative for awholesome life,
meaningful present and better future.
Positive psychology is emerging at its own pace and is steadily yet momentously
attaining acrucial position in the field of psychotherapy and counselling (Ivtzan et al., 2019).
Positive psychology helps an individual learn strategies like gratitude, hope creating, and
future building with the help of one ’sstrengths and virtues in all sectors of life. It helps an
POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND COUNSELLING 11
individual gain self-confidence, autonomy, resilience, and acceptance through the process of
positive reframing. Positive psychology views an individual as an agency of self-
improvement and a creator of one ’s own happiness. It is safe to conclude that positive
psychology believes in an individual ’sinfinite inner strength to overcome any obstacles.
POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND COUNSELLING 12
Brunzell, T., Stokes, H., & Waters, L. (2016). Trauma-informed positive education: Using
positive psychology to strengthen vulnerable students. Contemporary School
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Cheavens, J. S., & Guter, M. M. (2018). Hope therapy. The Oxford handbook of hope ,133-
Chodkiewicz, A. R., & Boyle, C. (2017). Positive psychology school ‐based interventions: A
reflection on current success and future directions. Review of Education ,5(1), 60-86.
Compton, W. C., & Hoffman, E. (2019). Positive psychology: The science of happiness and
flourishing .Sage Publications.
Donaldson, S. I., Dollwet, M., & Rao, M. A. (2015). Happiness, excellence, and optimal
human functioning revisited: Examining the peer-reviewed literature linked to
positive psychology. The Journal of Positive Psychology ,10 (3), 185-195.
Griffin, B. J., Worthington, E. L., Lavelock, C. R., Wade, N. G., & Hoyt, W. T. (2015).
Forgiveness and mental health. In Forgiveness and health (pp. 77-90). Springer,
Hayhurst, J., Hunter, J. A., Kafka, S., & Boyes, M. (2015). Enhancing resilience in youth
through a10-day developmental voyage. Journal of Adventure Education & Outdoor
Learning ,15 (1), 40-52.
Ivtzan, I., Lomas, T., Hefferon, K., & Worth, P. (2019). Second wave positive psychology:
Embracing the dark side of life .Routledge.
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hero: A case study of strength-centered therapy. Clinical Case Studies ,18 (3), 200-219.
POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND COUNSELLING 13
Lopez, S. J., Pedrotti, J. T., & Snyder, C. R. (2018). Positive psychology: The scientific and
practical explorations of human strengths .Sage Publications.
Macaskill, A. (2016, September). Review of positive psychology applications in clinical
medical populations. In Healthcare (Vol. 4, No. 3, p. 66). Multidisciplinary Digital
Publishing Institute. doi:10.3390/healthcare4030066
Magyar-Moe, J. L., Owens, R. L., & Conoley, C. W. (2015). Positive psychological
interventions in counseling: What every counseling psychologist should know. The
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Marrero, R. J., Carballeira, M., Mart ín, S., Mejias, M., & Hernandez, J. A. (2016).
Effectiveness of apositive psychology intervention combined with cognitive
behavioral therapy in university students. anales de psicolog ía,32 (3), 728-740.
Rashid, T. (2015). Positive psychotherapy: A strength-based approach. The Journal of
Positive Psychology ,10 (1), 25-40.
Rostami, M., Abolghasemi, A., & Narimani, M. (2016). The effectiveness of quality of life
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POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND COUNSELLING 14
Wong, Y. J., Owen, J., Gabana, N. T., Brown, J. W., McInnis, S., Toth, P., & Gilman, L.
(2018). Does gratitude writing improve the mental health of psychotherapy clients?
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