Positive Psychology is a relatively new branch of psychology, which has emerged over the past 10 years. It focuses on developing psychological well-being, assisting individuals to thrive and live a fulfilling life. It acknowledges that everyone has strengths and virtues (for example: creativity, compassion, resilience, integrity) and seeks to identify and build upon these. In doing so, Positive Psychology aims to increase positive emotions, thoughts and experiences.
Positive Psychology differs from traditional psychological approaches. Traditional psychological approaches tend to focus on dysfunction (e.g. mental illness) through alleviating and/or eliminating symptoms (e.g. anxiety, depression). Nonetheless, Positive Psychology is designed to compliment traditional approaches, rather than replace them. This means that elements of Positive Psychology can be used in conjunction with more traditional approaches, such as Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
The name ‘Positive Psychology’ can lead to misconceptions about what the approach entails. Positive Psychology is not about having a positive attitude and feeling happy all the time; it does not ignore the fact that life involves adversity, challenges and uncomfortable emotions. What Positive Psychology aims to achieve is realising the potential of each individual to manage the challenges that arise throughout their life.
Positive Psychology challenges us to identify personal strengths as well as other things that create a sense of satisfaction and meaning for us. For example, participating in challenging, creative or pleasurable activities, developing relationships and connections with other people, or even helping others to build their own sense of psychological well-being. With this in mind, seeking treatment with a psychologist who practices Positive Psychology may assist you to work towards living a more fulfilling life.