Short Introduction and History
Positive Psychology is relatively new in the field of mental health treatment; the idea gain some inclination prior to the Second World War and died off. Only to be reinvigorated in the early 1950s. Enthusiastically, Positive Psychology was brought back into the limelight by Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and Erich Fromm. These individuals engage into the theory that happiness and positive events in one’s life should be develop upon to treat mental health and other areas of one’s life. In the year 1998 Mr. Seligman, who would become pivitol in Positive Psychology, was elected to the American Psychological Association as the president. His primary focus was Positive Psychology as the theme of his presidential term. Mr. Seligman has been considered the father of modern Positive Psychology. The first international conference with Positive Psychology as a focal point was held in 2002 with the world congress of Positive Psychology featuring Mr. Seligman hosting discussion on this topic of choice.
Positive Psychology in large parts looks at happiness, Flow, Strengths of virtues, and character, resilience and positive thinking. Promising research has shown that through positive counseling techniques an individual can achieve happiness through meaningful and purposeful work when they are challenged and actively engage in it. It has also reinforced the concept that money can’t buy happiness. However, spending money on love ones or close friends can bring self-fulfilling happiness. Individuals can be taught to an extent on how to become more optimistic, altruist, and grateful. Positive Psychology Techniques can be applied to a variety of enduring and daily life events. It can not only be used in therapies, but incorporated into education, self-help ( to some extent), workplace and resolve.
A technique that is gaining speed in the field of Positive Psychology is the concept of resilience. This is where clients are taught methods to overcome adversities in their life. This is most commonly known as the mind’s ability to bounce back from a challenging event whether physically or mentally. Each of us possess this ability to some degree, some individuals are more cable of bouncing back than others. This does not mean they are not saddened by an event, but rather maintain a higher degree of coping skills. The U.S. Army found the concept of resilience essential to a soldier’s life that it partner with the University of Pennsylvania to create a program that can address the before, during, and after of mobilizations to theater operations. To an extent they have also expanded it to military family members to assist with the transition and change in the family dynamics.
The major tenets that make up Positive Psychology Strategies are intricately connected to each other and form the founding principles that make up the practice, one being positive experiences. The experience that an individual have shaped and molded a person’s behavior, mood, self-esteem, everything that has been a part of one’s life is to consider a part of their experience. It’s the positive aspects of these experience that we want to reinforce and build upon. Positive Individual Traits are another component of Positive Psychology. Traits such as Accountability, Ambitiousness, Bravery, Honesty, and much more provide a client tools to build upon(“Positive Character Traits,” n.d.). Using these traits we can further our development of positive reinforcement.
In addition, we can identify a trait we desire and attempt to modify our behavior through conscious questioning of our actions to condition our minds to project the desired trait in our daily professional and social interactions. Positive institutions are another major contributor in the scheme of Positive Psychology Strategies. Positive institution can be broadly described as the environment of social interaction. A person’s loved one, the school they attend, the work that is done to earn a living are all contributing factors in the psychological approach. Each of these represent the founding strengths for this method of approach. With that said there are some limitation on the uses of Positive Psychology. These method and techniques should not be used in addressing severe and chronic mental disorders. In addition the use of Positive Psychology can only be effective as the clients implementation and buy in the program. If little or no effort is made by the client little results will be seen (“Our Mission | Positive Psychology Center,” n.d.).
The use of Positive Psychology is a diversify one that reaches all classes, groups, genders, and walks of faith. Through a laid out plan that takes into account of the client’s history and historical background of the client’s culture we can provide a treatment plan that is built upon modules of hierarchy. As a stage is completed the next will reinforce the previous and develop and expand upon within the next module as the client reaches their goals. By conducting an intake survey of demographic, medical, and historical information provided by the client we can review the cultural historic past and modern day trends that may be causing adversity in their life that we can aim to mitigate. As well as, look at positive cultural trends that could be utilize in this approach that we will be building upon and reinforcing. In addition we will look at the individual factors that are affecting the client and work towards mitigating the negative aspect and developing the positive ones. Research should be considered an essential element in developing a positive counseling approach that incorporate multicultural implications when treating the client. The ultimate goal is to grow the client into a person that can become overall happier.
A training plan that aims to develop a person through Positive Psychology Strategies should encompass several modules that are progressive in nature. It should be mutually understood that the program may take a considerable amount of time and that the program will only progress upon the accomplishment of the client. If the client is only moderately participating in the program it may never reach its fullest effects. In turn the client must have a buy in belief in the program for optimal success. The initial consultation should consist of several surveys. We should identify basic demographics. We should look to see if they are actively participating in their heritage and cultural practices. In addition we should look at what brought them to counseling in the first place and ensure that we are looking at the crisis in their lives and how to address it. It may take time to gather the necessary information through an intake survey.
Once the information is gather we should conduct research on historical and demographic trends of the client’s cultural background so it can be implemented into our treatment plan. Next an inventory of strengths and weakness should be taken between the client and counselor. With this list we can use the client strength as our initial area of focus when building the beginning modules of our plan. The client strength can be used to build confidence in the program and as a stepping stone to develop the client’s weakness as the program progresses. Next we should initiate several simple practical exercise. These exercise should not be time consuming and easily obtainable to complete. These tasks will build confidence in the program and raise self-esteem through their accomplishment. One of these task should be a gratitude letter expressing all of the things in a person’s life that they should be grateful/ thankful for(“Positive Psychology Techniques (Guide) | Therapist Aid,” n.d.). Once this letter is complete a journal should be kept to document positive events that have occurred to others that the patient exercised and what had occurred to them in return. These daily event in one’s life can be small trivial things or major life event. A daily reflection should occur simultaneously as documentation should occur (“19 Best Positive Psychology Interventions + How to Apply Them,” 2019). Another factor that should be incorporated is thanking others who you believe have done something positive for you. Showing humble gratitude to others not only shows your appreciation for the things that others have done, but also brings a sense of self fulfillment. As these simple concepts develop a gratitude visit should occur. This is where the client will spontaneous visit a person whom has done something positive to them and thank them for their friendship or kindness. This visit can be to a friend, a colleague, a pastor, or family. Through this visit the client will demonstrate their appreciation for the other as well as build a stronger bond between them bringing the relationship closer. This will increase the clients support group as well as leave the one visited in a positive mood. As the programs develop a mental vacation should be taken. This is where the client removes themselves mentally from their surroundings and focus on the positive aspect of the day or life. This mental vacation should only be for a few minutes. They can occur during a cup of coffee or a walk. Towards the later stages of the programs the concept of helping others will form.
Resilience a Known or Unknown Major player in our in our mental agility, resilience for a lack of better words can be described with a few catch phrases: The ability to bounce back; the ability to adapt and overcome (Coin phrase of the U.S. Army); persevere, Rise above, and many more terms and catch phrases. When it comes down to it each of us have this unique uncanny ability to a certain degree. Each one of us can absorb a degree of stress and or trauma placed upon the mind and body. In turn the mind and body absorb these trauma and stressors and processes them in a way that each of us can interpret and deal with. The outcome of this is the mind and body being able to move pass the trauma and stressors to the other side were life returns to normal (functionally as possible prior to the stressor or trauma, residual behavior resulting from trauma or stress may linger, or become permanent). This is not to say there won’t be low points of depression or behavior changes this will be common while the human body and mind work through the event. It must also be understood that the mind and body are connected, with every major event that occurs to the physical body may result in mental repercussions. With this said it works the opposite way as well. When mental trauma occurs it can manifest itself into physical symptoms. This can be demonstrated through anxiety. As the symptoms of anxiety develops so do the physical symptoms. Anxiety can cause the body to demonstrate the physical signs of heart failure up to the simulation of a full blown heart attack. This demonstrates that developing our own resilience is more important than ever. There are some common techniques we can develop and some additional thoughts can provide enhancement to one’s resilience. As a part of our treatment plan aforementioned some common techniques that have generally been agreed upon that can be integrated are: Change, altering our view on change as a positive aspect of life can greatly aid in a person resilience; Goal setting, setting goals allows an individual to stay on task, focused with what needs to be accomplished; Patience, this is an ordained task at times, but by setting time tables and goals involving patience can strengthen resilience; Optimism, having a positive outlook can greatly aid a person in moving pass the trauma or stressors that has arisen in a person’s life. Some additional thoughts to consider when incorporating resilience into our treatment plan is one’s faith. Faith can provide insurmountable amount resilience. Faith is the embodiment of one’s moral, conventions, creed, and lifestyle (depending on how deeply ones faith is held). Faith allows one to release themselves through prayer, it also provides comfort in times of need.
Another aspect that we should be involved in the resilience portion of our treatment plan is an individual support group. Our support groups can be categorized by rings of people that are with in our lives, from small (immediate family) to large (community member’s coworkers etc). By strengthening ones relationship with their immediate circle (typically family: parents, siblings, children) wife/ husband/ significant other, and life long friends can enable the group to identify stressors or behavior changes within their loved one and react to them; it also can provide encouragement, companionship, comfort, love, and affection, the fundamental needs of all humans. The next circle out in our support group would have religious leaders, Friends, non-immediate family members (grandparents, cousins etc). As our circles expand outwards it continues to bring in community centers, counselors, co-workers, association, and so on as we expand away from the singular effected person. When we are using resilience as a part of our treatment plan we are not just treating targeted areas or certain traits. We are attempting to strengthen the whole person during the process. This process may start with a certain trait or aspect but will branch out to encompass every part of the individual, strengthening their ability to persevere through adversity, stressors, and crises alike.
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