Positive Psychology was discussed very little in my internship and my graduate school program, and I suspect this is true for most psychologists who did the bulk of their training several decades ago. In recent years, the concept of Positive Psychology has grown in its popularity as the profession has evolved beyond a primary focus of treating illness to an emphasis on fixing things where they are broken but providing interventions that move healthy people toward a fulfillment of their potentials. Stated simply, Positive Psychology can help an individual move from a place in life where they languish to a place where they can flourish.
The Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, defines Positive Psychology as “the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field 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.”
Abraham Maslow is one of the earliest writers to develop this concept of psychological interventions that build upon the strengths of normal people rather than treat the illnesses of people who are sick. He spoke of the importance of achieving one’s full potential, including realizing one’s creative needs as movement toward self-actualization takes place. Carl Rogers described a related concept as one’s “growth potential.” Highly creative and psychologically robust people such as Mahatma Gandhi, Viktor Frankl, and Nelson Mandela are often cited as people who decided to strive beyond a mediocre way of being in the world and strove to be more – often at considerable risk to the power elite whose members felt threatened by their striving.
Positive psychology does not replace traditional psychotherapy, it complements it. For individuals who are not suffering from a psychological condition that leaves them emotionally disturbed but want to grow beyond mediocre performance toward self-actualization, positive psychology can be just the thing. It can be fun, and the payoffs can come very quickly.
To discuss whether positive psychology has something to offer you, give Chesapeake Coaching a call at 804-435-6777.