Applying Positive Psychology in Guidance and Counselling to

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Transcript Applying Positive Psychology in Guidance and Counselling to

Applying Positive Psychology in
Guidance and Counselling to
Enhance Career Management
Anna-Lisa Ciccocioppo, Ph.D., University of Calgary
Janet Miller, Ph.D., Mount Royal College
Sonya Flessati, Ph.D., Mount Royal College
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
• What is Positive Psychology, and why use it?
• Applications
– Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
– Counselling
– Career Guidance
• Assessment of Strengths, Virtues and Successes
– Informal
– Formal (e.g., VIA-IS; Seligman & Peterson, 2002)
• Conclusion
What is Positive Psychology?
“The scientific study of positive experiences and
positive individual traits, and the institutions
that facilitate their development”
(Duckworth, Steen, & Seligman, 2005, p. 630).
• Martin Seligman in 1998 called for a
fundamental shift in the science of
psychology. Seligman (1998) identified the
term “positive psychology”.
• Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi (2000) suggested
that the shift should be made towards a
science of optimal functioning vs. being
Why Positive Psychology?
• A predominant focus in psychology has been
on psychopathology.
• Not a lot of attention has been given to the
nature of psychological health.
• The “negative” focus has taken psychologists
away from examining human strengths.
Why Positive Psychology?
• There is an awareness that many human
strengths act as buffers against mental illness.
• “A complete practice of psychology should
include an understanding of suffering and
happiness” (Seligman, Steen, Park & Peterson, 2005, p.
• Studying what is right with people “can help
raise everyone’s level of functioning, not just
that of the mentally ill.” (Shushok & Hulme, 2006).
Applications of Positive Psychology
• Positive Psychology aims to nurture positive
emotions, identify strengths, & foster virtues
in people and institutions, all of which can
lead toward “a path of sustainable happiness
rather than short-lived pleasure” (Shushok & Hulme,
2006, p. 3).
• Is this not something that counselling and
career guidance also seeks?
Applications to Counselling
• Counselling Psychology has always maintained
a “positive”, strengths-based focus on the
individual  congruent with Positive
Psychology approach
• Counselling Psychology & Positive Psychology
share a focus on: strengths, skills, abilities,
interests, etc.
• Positive Psychology contributes a preventionoriented focus to counselling
• Emphasizes
– Resilience and enhancing quality of life through
the nurturing of individual virtues such as
courage, hope, forgiveness and perseverance
– Long-term mental health and enhanced quality of
life (Ingram & Snyder, 2006).
Application to Cognitive Behavioural
Therapy (CBT)
• Positive Psychology may enhance the efficacy
of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT;
Karwoski, Garratt, & Ilardi, 2006) through its
emphasis on identifying and cultivating
individual strengths.
• Conceptual overlaps between PP and CBT
have been identified, including
-Establishing a strong therapeutic alliance
-Focus on discrete goals & here-and-now
-Cognitive reappraisal
-Client as a collaborative partner
• Techniques involved in both include: pleasant
activities scheduling, identifying and reviewing
success experiences, mood monitoring,
relaxation training, and problem solving
(Karwoski et al., 2006).
Applications to Career Guidance and
• Area of vocational psychology within
counselling psychology has consistently
emphasized human strengths
• Focus on a client’s human strengths and their
application to one’s career development →
clients can enhance their career exploration
and broaden the range of perceived options
• Advances in the career development literature
have normalized the unplanned career and
not having all career plans figured out, and
framed these in a positive way
• Gelatt’s (1989) “positive uncertainty”
encourages us to be
• focused and flexible
• aware and wary
• objective and optimistic, and
• practical and magical
when making career decisions
• Mitchell, Levin, & Krumboltz’s (1999) concept
of “planned happenstance” focuses on
creating and transforming unplanned events
into career opportunities
– Curiosity is valued
– Indecision is re-framed as open-mindedness
Assessment of Strengths, Virtues, and
• Informal
– Direct questions, reflective questions, fantasy
questions, third party perspectives
• Formal
– Use of the Values In Action Inventory of Strengths
(VIA-IS; Seligman & Peterson, 2002)
Informal Assessment of Strengths
• Direct questions – Attempt to highlight what
the client already knows and recognizes
about their strengths.
• Reflective questions – Probe a bit deeper and
challenge the client to reflect on past
experiences, accomplishments or challenges.
Discussion could revolve around themes
related to strengths and virtues.
• Fantasy questions – Provide the client with an
opportunity to use their imagination to
explore possibilities, acknowledge interests
and focus on “out of the box” options.
• Third Party Perspectives – Help to circumvent
internal barriers that sometimes get in the
way of acknowledging strengths and virtues.
Clients can explore what they appreciate in
others and what others say they appreciate in
Formal Assessment of Strengths
• A formal assessment of a client’s strengths can be
done using an instrument such as the Values in
Action Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS; Seligman &
Peterson, 2002)
• This can be used in conjunction with more
traditional career counselling inventories:
– Strong Interest Inventory
– Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
Which can be interpreted from a strengths-based
Values in Action Survey (VIA-IS)
Self-report, 240 Questions
Free, online tool (registration required)
24 Strengths and Virtues assessed
Six broad categories represented
Signature Strengths
– Creativity
– Curiosity
– Open-Mindedness
– Love of Learning
– Perspective
– Bravery
– Persistence
– Integrity &
– Love
– Kindness
– Social Intelligence
– Teamwork
– Fairness
– Leadership
– Zest & Vitality
Signature Strengths
– Forgiveness &
– Modesty and
– Prudence
– Self-Regulation
– Gratitude
– Appreciation of Beauty
& Excellence
– Hope
– Humour
– Spirituality
Questions to Explore with Clients
• How do they view their strengths as playing a
role in their decision-making?
• Are these strengths themes among their most
similar occupations?
• How can these strengths help them in the
process of career exploration and in their
future career and life roles?
Future Directions in Career Guidance
and Counselling
• Are certain virtues celebrated more in certain
fields or professions?
• Can the application of virtues add to career
• Is job satisfaction congruent with expression
of virtues or strengths?
Thank You!
Anna-Lisa Ciccocioppo
[email protected]