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POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND GOAL-ACHIEVING PSYCHOTHERAPY (GAP) Ronald S. Kaiser, Ph.D., ABPP Licensed Psychologist Clinical Associate Professor, Department.

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Presentation on theme: "POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND GOAL-ACHIEVING PSYCHOTHERAPY (GAP) Ronald S. Kaiser, Ph.D., ABPP Licensed Psychologist Clinical Associate Professor, Department."— Presentation transcript:

1 POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND GOAL-ACHIEVING PSYCHOTHERAPY (GAP) Ronald S. Kaiser, Ph.D., ABPP Licensed Psychologist Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Neurology, Thomas Jefferson University Jefferson Headache Center

2 POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY DEFINED Positive psychology is that branch of psychology that involves the study and promotion of well-being. The gold standard for measuring well-being is flourishing. The goal of positive psychology is the increase of flourishing. Seligman, 2011

3 POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY DEFINED (2) Psychology is not just the study of pathology, weakness, and damage. It is also the study of strength and virtue. Treatment is not just fixing what is broken. It is nurturing what is best. Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi (2000) Positive Psychology can be incorporated into other approaches to treatment.


5 PSYCHOTHERAPY COMES FROM A DISEASE REDUCTION MODEL Historical definition of health = Absence of disease. Psychoanalytic goal of tension-reduction. CBT focuses on irrational beliefs, automatic negative thoughts, etc. DSM gold standard is “No Diagnosis”. Reportable scales on the MMPI are the elevated ones. NIMH funding is granted for disease research.

6 WHO DEFINITIONS OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HEALTH HAVE CHANGED Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Mental Health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.

7 PSYCHOLGY’S CONTRIBUTIONS TO LEARNING HAVE IMPACTED ON Schools Parenting Sports Industry But not necessarily on the conduct of psychotherapy

8 PSYCHOLOGY AND INDUSTRY Often co-opted by other disciplines Effectiveness trumps credentials Laid the groundwork for the coaching profession Are you familiar with? Seth Godin Brian Tracey Jim Rohm Stephen Hovey Napoleon Hill Tony Robbins


10 LET’S START WITH A BIT OF SELF- DISCLOSURE The influence of Jim Murray The influence of Don Meredith The influence of Dr. Benjamin Shimberg The influence of the gym The role of context The arrival of positive psychology The internet

11 SOME NEW DEVELOPMENTS THAT AFFECT THEORY BUILDING Brain Plasticity Mindfulness The role of physical exercise The role of mental exercise Health Psychology Biofeedback/Neurofeedback The early work in positive psychology The internet

12 THE SPECIAL ROLE OF BRAIN PLASTICITY The historical belief was that after childhood the brain could only change in one direction – Decline. Hardwiring: the concept that the brain was more like a computer than a muscle. Research has dramatically changed this thinking

13 Taub’s Constraint Induced (CI) Movement Therapy. Competitive plasticity and Merzenich’s brain mapping. The role of mental rehearsal (Pascal-Leone’s piano students; Sharansky’s imprisonment). Maguire’s research on the posterior hippocampuses of London taxi drivers ( Maguire, Current Biology, 2011 ). Mirror neurons ( Iacoboni, 2009) RESEARCH ON THE CHANGING BRAIN

14 THE ROLE OF PHYSICAL EXERCISE What did Freud, Rogers, Skinner, Ellis, etc. have to say about exercise? What have Seligman, Achor, and other positive psychologists said about exercise? MacArthur Foundation studies demonstrate 3 ways of reducing cognitive decline (normal weight, lifelong learning, exercise) Studies demonstrate that if you are middle-age and sedentary and you start a regular exercise program, you can delay the onset of cognitive decline by years (Ratey; Kramer). Naperville, IL, 8 th graders finished #1 in the world in science & 6 th in math after being involved in a comprehensive daily PE program.


16 POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY EMERGES IN AN AGE OF SCIENCE Commitment to research Criticisms of humanistic psychology for insufficient research base. Unlike Freud, Rogers, Ellis, Positive Psychology was largely developed by academics rather than clinicians

17 THE SEMINAL ARTICLE Seligman, M., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55 (1), 5-14.

18 PIONEERS OF THE POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY MOVEMENT Ed Diener (“Dr Happiness; Subjective well-being) George Vaillant (longitudinal study of successful aging) MIHALYI CSIKSZENTMIHALYI MARTIN SELIGMAN Barbara Fredrickson (Broaden and Build; Positivity Ratio) Christopher Peterson* (Values in Action project)

19 THE NEXT GENERATION OF LEADERS IN POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY Sonja Lyubomirsky (Happiness) Todd Kashian (Curiosity) Karen Reivich (Resilience) Angela Duckworth (Grit) Robert Vallarand (Passion) Tal Ben-Shahar (General student body teaching) Shawn Achor (Consulting)

20 THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF CAROL DWECK Mindset: The view that you adopt for yourself. Fixed Mindset: The belief that your qualities are unchangeable – and you have to keep proving yourself over and over. Related to being praised for your attributes. Growth Mindset: The belief that your basic qualities can be changed by your efforts. Related to being praised for your efforts. Substantial research supports the benefits of the growth mindset.

21 CSIKSZENTMIHALY As World War II approached in Europe, he observed how some adults became helpless as social supports decayed while others maintained their integrity. His work in the U.S. led to his development of the concept of Flow and its role in the development of Positive Psychology.

22 FLOW The optimal experience. It does not “just happen” passively, but you can’t force yourself into flow. It involves being fully focused, motivated, energized, and involved in an activity. You can’t be depressed or anxious and able to be in a state of flow. Contrary to popular belief, life’s best moments are when we are stretched to physical and/or mental limits rather than relaxed. Our best moments may not necessarily be pleasant at the time. Experiences that result in flow for us are not universal.

23 THE CONDITIONS OF FLOW Goals are clear Feedback is immediate There is a balance between opportunity and capacity Concentration is deep The sense of time is altered

24 TRAITS OF THE AUTOTELIC PERSONALITY Curiosity Persistence Low self-centeredness Oriented toward performing activities for intrinsic reasons only.

25 SELIGMAN His journey went from Learned Helplessness to Learned Optimism to Authentic Happiness to Flourish - and the psychology of well-being. Developed the MAPP program at Penn. Instrumental in developing major positive psychology concepts – including Signature Strengths and PERMA. Collaborated with Chris Peterson in researching and writing Character Strengths and Virtues.

26 PERMA Positive Emotion Engagement Relationships Meaning Accomplishment

27 CHARACTER STRENGTHS AND VIRTUES Positive Psychology’s answer to the DSM and ICD – “A Manual for the Sanities”. The focus is on what is right about people rather than what is wrong. Based on substantial research across cultures. 6 Virtues encompass 24 Character Strengths.

28 STRENGTHS OF WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE Creativity (Originality, Ingenuity) Curiosity (Interest, Novelty-seeking, Openness to Experience) Open-mindedness (Judgment, Critical Thinking) Love of Learning Perspective (Wisdom)

29 STRENGTHS OF HUMANITY Love Kindness (Generosity, Nurturance, Care Compassion, Altruistic Love, “Niceness) Social Intelligence (Emotional Intelligence, Personal Intelligence)

30 STRENGTHS OF JUSTICE Citizenship (Social Responsibility, Loyalty, Teamwork) Fairness Leadership

31 STRENGTHS OF TEMPERANCE Forgiveness and Mercy Humility and Modesty Prudence Self-Regulation (Self-Control)

32 STRENGTHS OF TRANSCENDENCE Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence (Awe, Wonder, Elevation) Gratitude Hope (Optimism, Future-Mindedness, Future Orientation) Humor (Playfulness) Spirituality (Religiousness, Faith, Purpose)

33 STRENGTHS OF COURAGE Bravery Persistence (Perseverance, Industriousness) Integrity (Authenticity, Honesty) Vitality (Zest, Enthusiasm, Vigor, Energy)

34 ASSESSING SIGNATURE STRENGTHS Go to VIA Survey of Character strengths (240 items) Brief Strengths Test (24 items) Several other tests Test results are used for research as well as your own benefit/

35 OTHER INDICATORS OF STRENGTHS Resilience Savoring Grit Posttraumatic Growth

36 FREDRICKSON’S 10 TOP POSITIVE EMOTIONS Joy Gratitude Serenity Interest Hope Pride Amusement Inspiration Awe Love

37 MEASURES OF POSITIVE INTERACTIONS The Losada Line and Ratio The Fredrickson Positivity Ratio


39 POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY AND HEALTH Positive psychological well-being is associated with: Fewer colds Reduced mortality in both healthy & ill populations Reduced cardio-vascular disease Reduced mortality from CVD, renal failure, & HIV Findings with respect to cancer are more equivocal No study has demonstrated a relationship between pessimism and better health or reduced mortality.

40 THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SOCIAL NETWORK Strength of social relationships is the major distinguishing characteristic of the happiest 10 % of the population. ( Diener & Seligman, 2002) There are “70 years of evidence that our relationships with others matter, and matter more than anything else in the world. (Vaillant, 2009) The concepts of social capital and reciprocity

41 THE IMPORTANCE OF A SOCIAL NETWORK You should always go to other people’s funerals; otherwise they won’t come to yours. Yogi Berra

42 POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY EXERCISES The What-Went-Well (or 3 Good Things or 3 Blessings) Exercise The Gratitude Visit The 21 day rule for positive behavior change The 20 second rule The Reverse 20 second rule The Modified Presidential Campaign Assessment

43 SELIGMAN’S ABCD EXERCISE Adversity Belief Consequences Disputation Energization

44 CRITICISMS OF POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY The scientists and philosophers The generalizers and over-simplifiers The anti-military Barbara Ehrenreich

45 INTERNATIONAL POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY ASSOCIATION For information or to join 3 rd Annual World Congress was held in Los Angeles on June 23-27, 2013

46 GOAL-ACHIEVING PSYCHOTHERAPY: A MODEL FOR POSITIVE PRACTICE GAP builds upon the research orientation and philosophy of positive psychology. GAP builds upon effective techniques of practice from several approaches, primarily CBT. GAP introduces unique concepts involving the role of the therapist, the purpose of psychotherapy, history, the goals of treatment, and the process.

47 GOAL-ACHIEVING PSYCHOTHERAPY (GAP) Bridges the GAPs between: Thinking and doing Gaining and maintaining The past and the future Science and practice

48 PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES OF GAP (1) The approach is forward looking and positive. The approach is geared toward building personal strengths to manage change and growth. The focus is primarily on the solution, not the problem. The past is meaningful – especially as it relates to character strengths and achievements. The therapist is active, directive, supportive and a cheerleader for growth and change.

49 PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES OF GAP (2) The patient/client is active in preparing a Mission Statement and setting an achieving goals. Goal setting is designed to ensure maximum success by utilizing small and measureable forward steps. Wallowing is avoided. Activity is the default. Once positive commitment and direction is implemented, other forms of therapy can be incorporated. Positive personality change can take place throughout the life span.

50 PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES OF GAP (3) The Type P Personality is the model of the healthy personality. Emotional health is always a work in progress. GAP principles can be pursued on a do-it-yourself basis, in therapy, or through coaching – depending upon your needs at any specific time. GAP-specific materials are available to aid in the implementation and maintenance of progress. is the ongoing source of GAP resources and information.

51 THE GYM AS A MODEL Wellness is a central concept Open to all shapes and sizes Individual measureable goals Diagnosis is descriptive, not prescriptive.

52 GAP ASSESSMENT ALTERNATIVES TO TRADITIONAL DIAGNOSIS Competent Person’s Disease – “the addiction to 2 nd place” The “Too Excuse” Over-thinking Under-rating (A/Fail thinking: Ascribing unimportance to achievements; Luck) Waiting for an A

53 THE TYPE P PERSONALITY The ultimate goal Assessment is done throughout the process Roughly comparable to PERMA

54 TYPE P PERSONALITY Personal goal-directed Proactive Positive Persistent Playful

55 THE INTRODUCTORY SESSION Understanding the reason for treatment Expression of therapist gratitude as part of informed consent Explanation of process and philosophy History-taking within the context of strength-building Introduction to the role of activity level and homework

56 THE ROLE OF HISTORY Establish early the importance of moving forward to develop strengths. Identify unhappy aspects of history – to primarily use in the future. Identify positive aspects of history. “When was the best time in your life?” “What things do you like most about yourself?” “What makes you so resilient?” Be prepared to revisit history from a position of strength.

57 GETTING UNSTUCK: THE CRITICAL QUESTIONS 1. Are you a fortune teller? 2. What can go right? 3. What does this have to do with you? 4. How is this getting you where you want to go? 5. What will you do now to maintain your success?

58 THE TECHNIQUES OF GAP (1) Vision without execution is hallucination. Thomas Edison

59 THE TECHNIQUES OF GAP (2) The Mission Statement The current goals Benefits Impediments Strengths to overcome impediments Areas for change and growth Health and fitness Cognitive functioning Social

60 THE TECHNIQUES OF GAP (3) Exercise Cards Create Your Proactive Positive Explosion Form Type P Personality Development Form DEFAULTS ARE ACTIVE

61 THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATIONS The therapist as a role model Phone calls No shows Suicidal ideation or threats Patient sabotage Session intensity

62 HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU ARE DONE? Does the person conform to the mission statement? How well does s/he meet the criteria for Type P Personality? Has the personal tipping point (Proactive Positive Explosion) been achieved? Has a maintenance program been put in place? Are conditions right for continued flourishing?

63 SUCCESSFUL APPLICATIONS OF GAP TO SPECIAL POPULATIONS Some Axis II populations Habit control Depression PTSD Headache patients

64 WHY DOESN’T IT WORK FOR EVERYONE? Nothing does. Expectancy of therapy as a place to wallow may not be met. Using the gym as a model, it is notable that people who drop out may successfully return in the future. Intensity and/or homework turn some people off. It’s still a work in progress without a lot of external input.

65 THE CHALLENGE The incidence of depression has risen every year since the early 20 th century. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for individuals between the ages of The average age of initial diagnosis is getting younger. Depression is the most costly disease in he world although up to half of the cases that meet the criteria for depression at any one time go untreated. IT IS HARD TO BE POSITIVE AND DEPRESSED AT THE SAME TIME.

66 THANK YOU! Your comments are important to me. Please feel free to contact me at Or

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