What is Positive Psychology? Why is Positive Psychology Important?
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What is Positive Psychology?

Positive psychology is the study of human flourishing, optimal experiences and positive functioning across many levels of life. It emphasizes research and applications that contribute to our understanding of resilience, happiness, quality of life and character strengths. It highlights solution-focused and strengths-focused perspectives on how we can help people reach their maximum potential.

Why is positive psychology important?

Positive psychology offers a valuable alternative or complementary approach to a diagnostic, problem-focused approach to health and well-being. Seeing the world through a “problem to be solved” lens can limit our field of vision as helpers and leaders, causing us to miss existing resources that we could build upon. As our world faces crises on multiple fronts, positive psychology can help clinicians, leaders, educators and communities focus on enhancing inherent resources and attributes that can not only bolster resilience, but lead to more effective, flexible, creative thinking that can guide us through those crises.

See also: Examples of Positive Psychology

What is a “positive psychologist”?

PCOM positive psychology students smile and talk in a simulated counseling sessionA better term would be a psychologist with expertise in the field of positive psychology. All psychologists are “positive psychologists” in the sense they help people solve problems in living, restore wellness, and maximize life satisfaction. Psychologists may take different pathways in helping people reach those states, one of which is “fixing what’s wrong” versus focusing more intently on existing resources such as personal strengths, gratitude, kindness, purpose, and love. A psychologist with expertise in the field of positive psychology has skills in motivational interviewing, mindfulness, and applying positive psychology interventions which utilize those existing resources. Of course, having a theoretical orientation rooted in positive psychology doesn’t preclude a practitioner of positive psychology from being problem-focused in their approach.

What makes a good “positive psychologist”?

A psychologist who finds a “home” in positive psychology is one who embraces the idea that practices like kindness, gratitude, personal strengths assessment, mindfulness, love, self-compassion, meaning, and celebration of accomplishments are critical ingredients to a life worth living. People from all educational backgrounds and professional roles who feel aligned with “human flourishing” as an important concept to dedicate time, study, energy, money and other resources to, are most likely to have the greatest impact working within this perspective.

How do you pursue a career in positive psychology?

To pursue a career in the field of positive psychology, you must obtain training in the principles and practices of positive psychology. One way to do that is by completing a degree program such as PCOM’s Master of Applied Positive Psychology.

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  • Disclaimer: The video featured in this article was produced using an AI-powered tool to transform text into visual content, including AI-generated voiceovers.