Positive Psychology is the scientific study of human flourishing, optimal functioning, wellbeing, strengths and virtues that enable individuals, communities and organisations to thrive.
It is grounded in the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within them, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.
The Positive Psychology Program (P3) at Life Psychologists is a 12 to 16 session course for individuals or groups who wish to learn and apply the essentials of what we know about the study of wellbeing into their daily lives.
SESSION & TOPIC
Orientation to P3; Current Positive Resources
Psychological distress is discussed as a lack of positive resources, such as positive emotions, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. To explore this, the therapist might use an exercise that encourages the individual to write a one-page, real-life story that called for the best in them and has a positive ending.
Individual Character Strengths
In this session, individual character strengths are explored, and the concept of engagement and flow is introduced. To begin exploring individual character strengths, the individual may be asked to identify what they believe are their signature strengths both in the session and through an online self-report. They may also ask two other close persons to rate their signature strengths.
Signature Strengths & Positive Emotions
Following on from the last session, signature strengths are discussed in more detail. As an exercise, the therapist may ask the individual to compile a signature strengths profile, which could include setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goals.
Good vs. Bad Experiences, Symptoms or Memories
The concept of how negative experiences and symptoms can be perpetuated is discussed in alignment with positive experiences. The therapist might use an exercise that asks the individual to explore a memory or experience that elicited feelings of anger, bitterness, or resentment and how these feelings further perpetuated the negative experience.
Forgiveness is explored as a resource to reframe negative symptoms and feelings into more positive emotions. The therapist might use a letter-writing exercise that asks the participant to remember a negative experience and to write out a letter of forgiveness towards the perceived transgressor/s of the scenario – themselves included.
Alongside forgiveness, gratitude is explored as a resource for generating better balance, and to view individual circumstances more positively. The role of positive and negative memories, feelings, and symptoms are discussed with an emphasis on gratitude for all the lessons both of these states have allowed for. The therapist might use gratitude journaling as an exercise to help build more focus and awareness of all the things for which the individual is grateful.
At this point, the therapist may follow up on any at-home tasks related to the forgiveness and gratitude sessions, and to revisit any of the previous sessions that may feel unresolved. This is also the opportunity for the individual to discuss their perceived gains or hurdles they might be experiencing so far as an outcome of the sessions. As an exercise, the therapist may seek to explore different ways the individual can overcome any of the hurdles, utilizing their signature strengths uncovered previously.
Satisficing vs. Maximizing
The therapist may now introduce the two concepts of satisficing (mainly, being ‘good enough’) and maximizing. The individual may be asked to explore the different ways in life they have not felt ‘good enough’ and to tell the story of one experience where they did feel good enough, and one where they did not. Again, these can be explored regarding the individual’s signature strengths.
Hope and Optimism
The additional concepts of optimism and hope are explored. As an exercise, the therapist may ask the individual to think about a time when they may have felt they lost out on something, only to discover it opened up new opportunities.
Various interventions that involve developing positive communication, such as Active-constructive, are explored and referenced in association to the individual’s signature strengths.
Signature Strengths of Others
The importance of recognizing, acknowledging, and associating with the signature strengths of the key people the individual has close relationships with is explored. As an exercise, the therapist may ask the individual to draw up a ‘Family Strengths Tree’ where the individual asks their significant relationships to complete an online self-report strengths test and identify their signature strengths. These can then be discussed in the session.
The concept of savouring is explored, as well as some of the techniques and strategies that can be used to prevent adaptation, along with techniques and strategies to safeguard against adaptation.
Gift of Time and Positive Legacy
The benefits of kindness, sharing, and helping others are explored and discussed in alignment with therapeutic outcomes. As an exercise, the therapist might ask the individual to make plans for how they might give the gift of their time utilising their signature strengths.
The Full Life
In the final session, ‘The Full Life’ is discussed in terms of what the individual feels they have that leads to this. Therapeutic gains are discussed, focusing on positive emotions, engagement, and meaning. How to keep this momentum going is also discussed, and ways of doing this are devised with the individual taking the lead and considering their signature strengths to achieve this.