Positive Psychotherapy (A complete guide)

This blog gives details about positive psychotherapy.

As we all know positivity is the best armament against negative thoughts, adversities, and challenging situations.

Positive psychotherapy was also developed to help clients achieve the same purpose. 

Positive psychotherapy is a kind of psychotherapy which aims to change the direction of therapeutic approach to more focused on helping clients explore their inner skills and abilities that would help them confront daily challenges bravely, acknowledge and utilize their areas of growth and pay attention to improving resilience to ensure their overall well-being.  

Let’s discover more about positive psychotherapy in the next headings.

What is Positive Psychotherapy?

Positive psychotherapy is a therapeutic approach introduced by Nossrat Peseschkian and his co-workers in Germany in about 1986.

Positive psychotherapy is recognized as a humanistic psychodynamic approach, according to which the nature of human beings is positive since their origin.

Positive psychotherapy is a combination of the elements of humanistic, systemic, psychodynamic, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

At present, about 20 countries are giving training on positive psychotherapy.

Note that positive psychotherapy and Martin Seligman’s positive psychology are two different approaches.

The word ‘positive’ has been derived from a Latin word from a Latin term ‘positum’ which means factual or given.

Nossrat Peseschkian used the word positive for his psychotherapy to lay emphasis on the notion that mental health issues are not the only fact about individuals seeking therapy and individuals have an ability within themselves to deal with their problems effectively.

Understand Positive Psychotherapy

Positive psychotherapy uses various techniques to help individuals to see their mental health issues in a different and optimistic way.

In positive psychotherapy, the clients are absorbed in their stories and allowed to actively take part in the intervention.

Positive psychotherapy uses various tactics to help individuals become their own therapist while communicating with them and actively take part in the process of healing to deal with their specific conditions, experiences, and environment.

According to positive psychotherapy, clients need to follow the three main tenets to produce positive results of the therapy. These three main tenets for as follows: 

The Principle of Hope 

According to the principle of hope, individuals are born optimistic in nature.

In positive psychotherapy, instead of asking individuals to focus on the destruction made by the adversities they had experienced, individuals are asked to deeply study those destructions and try to find out the real meaning behind it, for example by asking themselves introspective questions.

Positive psychotherapy enables individuals to view a thing with a different and positive perspective.

For example, sleep disturbance may be perceived as the ability to function with little sleep.

Similarly, the low mood may be viewed as the ability to react to internal and external problems.

The symptoms experienced in response to mental health illness signal that the individual needs to come towards life.

The Principle of Balance 

The principle of balance lay emphasis on the conflict its contents.

According to the balance model of Nossrat Peseschkian, clients may deal with their problems in four different areas of life including body/ sense, achievement/ activities, contact/ environment, and fantasy/ future.

These four ranges are present in individuals from their birth but it has been found that people living in the western hemisphere are more likely to focus on body/ sense and achievement/ activities for dealing with conflicts.

On the other hand, people living in the Eastern hemisphere are found to focus on relationship-based and future based coping strategies.

The type of coping mechanism adopted for dealing with problems varies from one person to the other but if there is an imbalance in these coping mechanisms, mental health illness is expected.

The Principle of Consultation 

The principle of consultation highlights 5 stages of self-help and therapy which can be used to deal with conflicts.

These five stages include observation, inventory, situational support, verbalization, and the development of goals. 

In the observation stage, the individual is supposed to mention his pleasant and unpleasant situations or the signs and indication of pleasant and unpleasant situations in detail. 

In the inventory stage, a proper interview of the client is taken in order to find out the association between the conflict and the capabilities of the client. 

In situational support, the individual is encouraged to acknowledge and pay attention to the positive attributes of their romantic partners or significant others. 

In the verbalization stage, the individuals are asked to discuss their issues with their partners or relationships. 

The development of goals helps individuals set positive, attainable, and realistic goals for their future.

What can Positive Psychotherapy Help with?

There are a number of applications of positive psychotherapy.

Positive psychotherapy does not only help with mental health issues but it is also a very effective intervention for depression and anxiety.

Positive psychotherapy helps build resilience and enhances the overall well-being of an individual.

Motivational interviewing serves the same purpose, by motivating people to accomplish their goals in order to get rid of mental and physical unrest.

Does Positive Psychotherapy Work?

A lot of empirical evidence has been collected regarding positive psychotherapy.

Although the results of these researches are varying, it is found that the outcomes of positive psychology oriented interventions are good and promising.

According to researches, positive psychotherapy is very effective in reducing depression symptoms for the long term, increasing satisfaction with life and elevating the level of happiness.

Although this therapy was a great success and showed positive results, just like other therapies, positive psychotherapy also faced criticism.

It was argued that positive psychotherapy is not enough for treating serious psychological disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Five Benefits of Positive Psychotherapy

Positive psychotherapy aims to help individuals identify their skills and abilities they already have, and the ones that they need to develop, in order to achieve inner balance.

Balance can be maintained by identifying inborn resources which could be physical, emotional, spiritual, and cognitive, and bringing them into work in positive ways. 

There are numerous benefits of positive psychotherapy. Some benefits of positive psychotherapy are discussed in detail next:

1. Empowers the Individual

Positive psychotherapy helps individuals in the process of identification of their skills and abilities.

It enhances the sense of empowerment of individuals and teaches them how to control their different areas of life, how to deal with challenging situations, and adversities of life (Rashid, 2014). In short, Psychotherapy promotes Strength-Based Approach.

2. Positive Reframing of Negative Symptoms and a Focus on Balance

Positive psychotherapy helps individuals recognize their strengths and abilities, identify the areas of their life which are not balanced, and acknowledge how this can affect their health negatively if not dealt properly.

3. Acknowledges and Supports Cultural Transitions and Differences

Since positive psychotherapy promotes empowerment in individuals, it enables individuals to control the areas of their life even in complex situations, when they feel things are going beyond their control.

This approach has been found to be very effective for individuals who experience problems in multicultural environments or relationships. 

Bontcheva and Huysse-Gaytandjieva did a study in 2013 to study migration and the influence of migration on people who moved to different countries or cultures.

Their study results confirmed that the individuals who follow positive psychotherapy principles were good at confronting these challenges and about two-thirds of individuals suffering from depression reported their depressive symptoms vanished.

4. Better Management of Expectations and Therapy Outcomes

Positive psychotherapy is found to be very effective in managing Expectations and therapy outcomes effectively.

It focuses on the importance of the client-therapist relationship and the use of the self directed techniques to speed up the intervention process and produce positive outcomes (Rashid & Seligman, 2018 ).

5. Proven to Help a Range of Mental Health Conditions

Positive psychotherapy has found to be a very effective approach in treating a wide range of mental health conditions including psychosis (Schrank et al., 2016), depression (Seligman, Rashid, and Parks, 2006, Carver, Scheier and Segerstrom, 2010) and borderline personality disorder (Uliaszek, 2016).

The following is a list of recommended books. These books are easily accessible on the Amazon store and google.

These books are a very good source of increasing knowledge about positive psychotherapy and learning their applications.

Just click the book you wish to study, and you will be redirected to the page from where you can access it.

How is positive psychotherapy different from the traditional view of psychotherapy?

Positive psychotherapy is different from the traditional view of psychotherapy in a way that positive psychotherapy emphasizes on promoting overall well being of individuals and enhancing their positive emotions rather than improving their deficits.

According to positive psychotherapy, improving positive emotions, engagement, and a sense of meaning will eliminate depressive symptoms.

The purpose of positive psychotherapy is the same, that is to treat mental health illnesses, but it uses a different approach.

What is an example of positive psychology?

It is believed that people who follow positive psychotherapy principles are benefited from a specific kind of lifestyle.

For example, the level of happiness of an individual will increase if the individual is healthy, exercises regularly, sleeps well, follows a balanced diet, has healthy relationships, and works hard.

How would a positive psychologist treat depression?

Positive psychotherapy and positive psychology are two different approaches.

Positive psychology was developed by Martin Seligman and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania for treating depression by developing positive emotions, identifying character strengths, and finding meaning, not only by reducing negative emotions such as sadness.

What is the main focus of positive psychology?

Positive psychology focuses on identifying strengths to help individuals and communities to grow.

It helps individuals find the meaning of their life, identify their character strengths, and increase their experiences related to love, work and play.

What is positive therapy?

Positive psychotherapy is a therapeutic intervention that helps individuals move towards positivity rather than going away from negativity.

This approach helps individuals identify their strengths and use them for confronting adversities.

Positive psychotherapy is based on humanistic and psychodynamic approaches for the treatment process.

What are the 3 pillars of positive psychology?

The three pillars of positive psychology are positive experiences, positive individual traits, and positive institutions.

This blog explained in detail the positive psychotherapy.

The blog mentioned the history of positive psychotherapy, the principles of positive psychotherapy, the benefits of positive psychotherapy, and much more. Your reviews about this blog are welcomed.

If you have any questions or queries, let us know through your comments. We will be glad to assist you.


What is Positive Psychotherapy? (Benefits & Model) by Elaine Mead (2020)

Positive psychotherapy – Wikipedia

Positive Psychotherapy – GoodTherapy

Positive Psychotherapy | Therapy Types | Zencare | Zencare


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