Positive psychology has received a lot of popular press and media attention in the past several years. A core assumption of positive psychology is that people want to live lives of meaning and purpose, beyond simply avoiding hassles or correcting problems. Positive psychology arose from within the context of the mental health profession, having been heavily influenced by the medical model and the corresponding emphases on pathology, illnesses, and weaknesses, with “scant knowledge of what makes life worth living”. One of the goals of positive psychology was “to begin to catalyze a change in the focus of psychology from preoccupation only with repairing the worst things in life to also building positive qualities”. Much of psychology has been built upon the premise that improving deficits will help us lead fuller and more productive lives. The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions illustrates the adaptive value of positive affect.
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This book intentionally approaches positive psychology from two perspectives: One is the application of specific positive psychology constructs, such as strengths or the broaden-and-build model, to supervision and training. The second perspective, which is probably more pervasive throughout the book and provides the underlying conceptual framework, is to operate from the definition of positive psychology as simply “the study and science of what works”. The book provides a broad overview of some of the most influential supervision theories and perspectives and introduces the key research findings and constructs from positive psychology. The rest of the book focuses on the factors and practical applications that will have the most impact on providing supervision from a positive psychology framework, ranging from ways supervisors can help ensure that the supervisory relationship begins well to identifying and developing our supervisees’ strengths and fostering the development of expertise and lifelong learning. The book also presents several models for approaching the problems that can occur during supervision and offers practical suggestions to help your challenging situations lead to supervisee growth and a stronger supervisee-supervisory relationship. Problems are inevitable, but unlike customer service at a bank, there is not an outside department charged with solving them; however, successfully resolving problems can lead to more growth and development than a smooth journey ever could. The book finally examines ways to facilitate ethical “resiliency” to help us and our supervisees more effectively address the human tendencies that can land even the most well-intended supervisee or clinician into ethical quicksand.