Positive Psychology Principles in Therapy

Positive Psychology is the study of conditions and processes that contribute to the optimal functioning of people, groups, and institutions (Gabe & Haidt, 2005). Therapy builds on the client's positive experiences to improve their well being and to ascertain the role of their positive experiences. Clients begin to recognize they have the solutions to their problems; each moment and each situation is a moment of growth and learning. Our clients need to have hope in their situation and in the challenges they face. 

Applying Positive Psychology principles in your clinical practice includes the following therapeutic goals: 1) encouraging clients to connect deeper to their inner strength and the factors within their lives they can improve or change; 2) challenging clients to identify what is meaningful in their work and their personal lives; and 3) helping clients define their happiness and fulfillment in their lives. 

As we celebrate Social Work Month, I encourage you to explore how you define happiness and fulfillment in your clinical practice as a social worker.  Consider what drew you to this profession and what has kept you in it.  Think about how you can thrive professionally, rather than just surviving your job.  Then you will become a living example of the principles of Positive Psychology in your own career. 


Gage, S.L., & Haidt, J. (2005). Review of General Psychology Vol.9 No.2, 103-110. What is Positive Psychology?

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