Individuals come into psychotherapy to enhance their lives, as well as to relieve suffering. The predominant medical model has been to cure pathology: stress, depression, anxiety. Martin Seligman, Ph.D. has led a new trend for psychology to focus on positive emotions and mental health.

The typical person coming into the office is leading a generally successful life, while having some areas of concern. The medical model would see a depressed person functioning at, say, a level of negative 3. Psychotherapeutic techniques (and sometimes medication) may take the individual back to a normal level (zero). A positive psychological model is not satisfied with that, but would assist the person in reaching a positive three level. A problem or crisis can often serve as the catalyst for a major life change.

Rather than simply looking at one’s deficits, Positive Psychology focuses on a person’s strengths. You can investigate your strengths, your emotional style and other factors contributing to your well-being at the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology website.