24/05/2021

Categories: Psychology, Postgraduate

What Are Character Strengths in Positive Psychology

Positive psychology has the power to change lives, helping people navigate great difficulties in life by focusing on their strengths…

The MSc Counselling and Positive Psychology course at the University of Bolton is for psychology graduates looking to embark on an immersive journey exploring this relatively new subject area.

This scientific study focuses on positive subjective experience and positive individual traits to improve the quality of life. As a treatment, it can support people with depression and anxiety, altering their perspective, and helping them enjoy and appreciate the smaller things.

One of the most researched areas of positive psychology is character strengths or ‘signature strengths’. These are the strengths of the individual, and are an important part of identity and the human psyche.

By tapping into these, counsellors and psychotherapists can transform ways of thinking and provide viable ways for patients to make positive changes that bring long-term value.

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Character strengths explained

The signature strengths we recognise in patients include things like bravery, perseverance, integrity, open-mindedness, optimism, gratitude, kindness, enthusiasm, self-control, humility, forgiveness, perspective, and purpose.

All of these things occur naturally, but some traits may be more prominent than others. As a positive psychotherapist, it’s your job to help people understand their strengths, shifting the focus to the good, instead of focusing on the bad.

Making people aware of these important character strengths provides the foundation for self-confidence, as well as improved self-awareness. At the same time, it solidifies the understanding that everyone is different, and that it’s important to appreciate and celebrate those differences.

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Using signature strengths in positive psychology

The very first step in working with patients with depression or anxiety is to establish what their strengths are. The key thing to note here is that highlighting signature strengths isn’t about ignoring weaknesses, but about shifting focus.

Strengths are there to help people overcome life’s inevitable adversities. In a way, positive strengths work hand in hand with negative thoughts and feelings. For instance, you can’t be brave without first feeling fear, and you can’t show self-control without the pull of temptation.

Character strengths can be used to tackle negativity, and should also be aligned with goals to help create the life that your patient wants.

By acknowledging these different character traits, you’ll be able to support patients, clients and service users by placing the power in their hands. For a lot of people who feel like their life is out of their control, positive psychology can put them in the driving seat once again.

Study Positive Psychology at Bolton University

Does helping people with depression and anxiety sound like something you want to do? If you have an undergraduate degree in psychology (or a related subject), a postgraduate degree could be for you.

At the University of Bolton, we’ve been voted No.1 in the UK for Student Satisfaction in psychology courses* for the second year running!

We’ve also been a Top 6 UK University for Teaching Quality in The Times Good University Guide for the past three years.** And our psychology programmes have received national recognition for innovation by the British Psychological Society (BPS), making us a great place to begin your journey into postgraduate training.

To find out more about applying for our MSc Counselling and Positive Psychology course in September in 2021, see our course page for details.

Or if you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on +44 (0)1204 903 394 or admissions@bolton.ac.uk.

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