Positive psychology is a relatively new form of psychology. It emphasizes the positive influences of a person’s life. These might include character strengths, optimistic emotions, and constructive institutions. This theory is based on the belief that happiness is derived from both emotional and mental factors. Positive psychology aims to help people identify happiness from moment to moment. It emphasizes this over only appreciating happy moments when looking back on them.
People seeking therapy who desire to experience a greater sense of joy and liberation from their current circumstances may find this approach helpful. Many find it easier to focus on the positive emotions they experience in the present after treatment has ended.
Positive psychotherapy is the application of positive psychology principles in a professional therapeutic setting. It is based on the concept that happiness may be broken down into three more manageable components:
- Positive emotion
The exercises used in positive psychotherapy are designed to enhance one or more of these components in a person’s life.
Some of the techniques used in this form of therapy involve examining the activities of the person in therapy. In therapy, the positive implications of each activity are explored. A common practice is the use of beepers or pagers. Therapists may, with the consent of the person receiving therapy, beep the individual to remind them to record their experiences. These records are expanded upon when a person adds daily entries to describe the details of the past day. They are then evaluated with long-term appraisals. These methods are often referred to as short-term sampling.
People in therapy are also often encouraged to keep a gratitude journal. This record is a reminder of the positive events and accomplishments of each day. The practice may help offset rumination on things that did not go according to plan.