Positive psychology interventions, or PPIs, are specific strategies and tools used by psychology professionals geared towards increasing the positive aspects of a person’s life. This is accomplished with a focus on positive emotions, positive cognitions, and increasing the person’s well-being and overall happiness.
PPIs have two main components:
- To make sure the effects are long-term
- An intense focus on increasing a person’s level of happiness through positive emotions and thoughts
If the PPIs are successful, it can be a way for psychologists to focus on preventing various illnesses such as depression and anxiety. This is the opposite of what many of today’s treatments do, which tend to concentrate more on treatment rather than prevention. Below are 39 PPIs that have proven to be effective.
39 Very Effective PPIs
1. Interventions that concentrate on gratitude. This is accomplished through two main methods: self-reflection, which includes writing in a journal regularly; and the use of interactive methods such as giving tokens of appreciation, saying “thank you,” and so on.
2. Interventions based on empathy. Healthy social bonds are one way to achieve this because they strengthen interpersonal relationships and positive feelings towards others, which naturally increases positive feelings towards oneself.
3. Interventions based on strengthening how powerful you feel. This practical wisdom experienced by patients gives them a better sense of power and control, which can automatically reduce symptoms associated with depression and other illnesses.
4. Interventions based on the concept of savoring. This includes encouraging the individual to grab onto and enjoy every aspect of a particular situation, including the emotional, physical, social, and sensory aspects of it.
5. Interventions based on increasing and practicing kindness. Examples can include volunteer work, making a donation to an organization, or helping a stranger with a task.
6. Interventions based on increasing the amount of optimism you enjoy. If you are optimistic, positive outcomes often come next. You can accomplish this intervention by imagining yourself in later years and by imagining what you want your future to look like.
7. Interventions based on determining what is meaningful to you and why. Examples of encouraging this type of intervention include setting realistic goals for yourself, utilizing the best ways to achieve those goals, and even reflecting on emotions and thoughts in order to make them more positive.
8. Interventions based on mindfulness. These are usually used in conjunction with other methods, and they include activities such as breath control, guided meditation, and sensory awareness. A clear mind is the first part of being more mindful of your surroundings, which is why it is stressed in this intervention.
9. Interventions based on Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or CBT. This is an old but very effective method that identifies and concentrates on the strengths of the patient. Every exercise that is used with CBT enables the therapist to concentrate on the more positive characteristics the patient exhibits.
10. Interventions based on teaching the patient to grow old gracefully. It concentrates on positive and healthy aging techniques to motivate patients who are over a certain age and feel like they’ve lost their potential or even the meaning in their lives.
11. Interventions based on the results of objective assessments. They can be administered under the supervision of a professional or even be self-evaluative, but the scores of these tests inform the therapist of the true happiness level of the patient, so that a treatment plan can be developed.
12. Interventions based on imagining what your ideal self is like and how close you are to coming to that. It is a self-technique that requires the patient to imagine himself in an ideal place, and the results are used to devise the perfect therapy plan.
13. Interventions based on some type of non-secular practice. This most often involves encouraging the patient to enroll in some type of yoga class. Yoga is a Buddhist method of growing spiritually and emotionally by following a set of physical techniques that concentrate on proper breathing and the mind-body connection.
14. Interventions based on forgiveness. If you cannot forgive others, you likely won’t be able to forgive yourself, and the latter is an important part of your emotional growth. These exercises include writing down your grievances with other people and learning to forgive them one at a time.
15. Interventions based on positive affirmations. Telling yourself things such as, “I deserve to be happy” and “I forgive myself for all of my past mistakes” can go a long way in the healing process. It lets you know that happiness is a choice you can make for yourself daily.
PPIs That are Effective in the Workplace
In addition to the above generalized PPIs, there are also positive psychology interventions specifically designed for the workplace. These include:
16. Activities designed to improve well-being and therefore performance. These can include a seven-week worksheet plan that requires participants to complete a certain exercise each week for seven weeks. These include a gratitude journal and a BGIF (be glad it’s Friday) workout. Developed by Deb Levy, a life coach, is a plan you can easily find online.
17. A happiness manual that contains resources, information about the science of happiness, relatable references, and easy-to-follow practical tips that allow people to let in as much happiness as they wish to have. The manual is called “Because I’m Happy” and was developed by Drs. Bolland and Alizart.
18. A worksheet developed by clinical psychologist John Barletta, which is designed to promote happiness and well-being. There are 15 prompt-based questions which are easily assessed by the participant. It helps define the patient’s goals and his way of thinking so that the weak areas can be improved upon.
19. Another worksheet, called “Action for Happiness,” contains exercises through objective activities. The activities enhance and promote the participant’s level of happiness.
20. Workshops stressing health promotion. These are specific to work-related problems and include ways to relieve physical health problems, which directly affect your emotional health and your ability to be a useful employee.
21. Workplace campaigns that stress mindfulness. There has been an increase in recent years in these types of programs. They teach employees how to become better decision-makers and express their gratitude more often, among other things.
22. Life coaching sessions, including one-on-one sessions. You can easily find life coaching that stresses happiness if you do some research online.
23. Techniques that stress innovation. These include brainstorming sessions where participants learn to pursue passion projects. Its main purpose is to let the participants engage in something they love and to enjoy a certain amount of autonomy.
24. Mechanisms that stress feedback. A great resource for self-improvement, these exercises include various written surveys and even one-on-one feedback sessions between employer and employee. There are numerous feedback mechanisms to utilize, and they can be found on the Internet.
25. A self-management worksheet designed to increase emotional and self-management awareness. It was developed by the firm Quartner and Associates, and it consists of valuable exercises and practical tips that go a long way toward improving workplace happiness and mental health among the employees.
26. Gratitude interventions for the workplace. These include techniques such as sending gratitude notes to others, guided meditation centered on gratitude, and even gratitude journaling so that goals and results can be put in writing.
27. Stress management exercises. Most workers are experiencing some type of stress. When the employer offers specific opportunities to reduce some of that stress, it affects employees in a very positive way. There are many PPIs to reduce workplace stress.
PPIs That are Specifically Designed for Students
In addition to individual and workplace positive psychology interventions, there are also PPIs designed specially for students, and these include the following.
28. Interventions based on positive relationships. These are usually very straightforward and include activities such as thinking about someone who overcame a challenge and thinking about a trait a friend has that you admire. It consists of thought-provoking questions that are easy for young people to answer.
29. A “passport” program, usually aimed at high-school students. It is a specific curriculum that promotes education concepts that are positive in nature. This includes problem-solving, self-esteem, and self-confidence, among others. It was developed to prevent depression in young people.
30. An intervention specifically designed to develop six character strengths. These are love, temperance, wisdom and knowledge, justice, transcendence, and courage. It was developed by two professors by the names of Seligman and Peterson.
31. Interventions that stress bouncing back after something difficult has happened to you. It usually involves children from kindergarten through middle school. It helps young children learn to deal effectively with the stressors in their lives, making them more resilient emotionally.
32. Interventions based on sentence completions that allow students to express what they’re feeling. They can answer these questions any way they want to, and their answers usually go a long way in showing therapists what is going on with them emotionally.
33. Many interventions used for general therapy can also apply to students. This includes PPIs that increase and cultivate gratitude, hope, serenity, resilience, character strengths, and others.
PPIs for the Treatment of Depression and Anxiety
Since depression is such a common illness, there are also positive psychology interventions that are geared towards this ailment. These include:
34. Concentration on resilience and coping skills. Being better able to cope with things decreases the chances of suffering with depression. These interventions concentrate on regulating emotions and better coping with disappointments and tragedies. One such program is called “Strong Minds” and was developed by Burckhardt and Colleagues.
35. Making sure people have strong support socially. This often takes the form of community-based groups specifically designed to help people in certain situations have more control over those situations. Improved social support always seems to eliminate many of the depressive episodes that people experience.
36. Concentrating on more positive emotions. Positive engagement and increasing positive emotions have been proven to have a great effect on people who are depressed, both those taking medication and those who are not. It also increases their overall satisfaction with life and reduces their symptoms of the illness.
37. Developed by Drs. Bilsker and Paterson, the Antidepressant Skills Workbook, or ASW, focuses on the positive and includes scientifically proven strategies that combat depression.
38. The MoodJuice workbook can identify the symptoms associated with depression and find ways to overcome it. The workbook contains exercises that have multiple-choice questions, which help determine how severe the depression is. It includes pictorial explanations and examples backed by evidence that go a long way for professionals who are treating patients with depression.
39. The Depression Self-Management Toolkit, or DSMT, was developed by two therapists and gives explanations for various types of depression. It also includes assessments to determine the severity of a person’s depression. It concentrates on both physical and psychological causes of depression, and then works to alleviate the negative causes to eliminate the depression.
The Many Benefits of PPIs
Although there are shortcomings when it comes to positive psychology interventions, there are also a lot of benefits. Often called “the science of happiness,” positive psychology is practiced in both mental health facilities and in private counseling centers. The main belief is that even with negative occurrences in your life, a person can still lead a happy, productive life.
The term “positive psychology intervention” is based on decades of study, but it wasn’t developed as it is known today until the late 1990s. Its goals include prevention of mental illness by increasing the chances of a happy life while a person is still young. This is one of the reasons for its emphasis in school settings.
There are many proven benefits of PPIs, including:
- Helping improve sleep
- Strengthening of the immune system
- Increasing overall well-being
- Reducing chronic pain
- Reducing anxiety
- Reducing both nausea and insomnia in patients undergoing chemotherapy
PPIs are used by therapists all over the country. Even though they are still being studied, the consensus seems to be that they are worth exploring with a variety of mental health conditions and patients. Increasing a person’s level of happiness does seem to help with depression and many other mental health diagnoses.