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Applying Positive Psychology in Recovery

Applying Positive Psychology in Recovery

Positive psychology is a beneficial treatment option emerging in recent years. Learn more about how to apply it to your recovery process.

What Is Positive Psychology?

Positive psychology goes beyond the mind to focus on human flourishing as a whole and the best ways to achieve optimal functioning. It is a scientific study of the human experience, and it applies methods of the best way to live to mental healthcare.1

How is Positive Psychology Different from the Rest of Psychology?

Traditional psychology is more akin to a form of medicine. In traditional psychology, the focus is on the cause of a mental illness and its symptoms, and how to treat that specific illness. Positive psychology, however, focuses on thoughts and behaviors and their overall impact on the human experience.


It encourages positive but realistic forward-thinking that works to create better people who work better with each other and the world. This does not mean that positive psychology can not still be beneficial in
treating mental illness, however. Instead, it offers a new perspective on recovery.

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Levels of Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology

Because positive psychology is focused on creating both thriving individuals and thriving communities, it has several tiers. Understanding the different levels of positive psychology is essential in understanding this type of psychology.2

Subjective Level

The subjective level is relatively abstract compared to the other two levels. It focuses on positive emotions and how to feel good, while the other two levels focus on being good, both as an individual and as a member of a group or society.

Individual Level

Once the individual learns how to feel good within themselves, they can transition to the second level: the individual level. Here, the individual learns to use those good feelings to motivate themselves to be a better person. Rather than finding happiness from external means, such as substance use, this level focuses on teaching the individual to be good and feel good due to their behaviors, perceptions, and thoughts.

Group Level

Finally, the individual can learn what it means to thrive in a community. Here, the good behaviors that the individual learns to demonstrate for themselves, such as forgiveness, are applied to a larger group, such as their local community and even society. This includes things like civic responsibility and compassion.

Benefits of Positive Psychology

Whether utilized by itself or in combination with psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy, positive psychology can positively add to your mental wellness plan. It offers many multifaceted benefits beyond addressing mental illness to fostering positive mental health overall.

Encourages a Commitment to Health

One of the number one benefits of positive psychology is the commitment to health that individuals are encouraged to make. Positive psychology is like a lifestyle in which each day is spent when the three tiers of positive psychology are in mind.

Focuses on Strengths

Positive psychology focuses on the best that an individual has to offer. These strengths then make up the foundation of the processes utilized in positive psychology.

Improves Relationships

Because positive psychology focuses on how individuals interact with themselves and those around them, it can help improve relationships. Overall, it can create a healthy support system. When paired with family therapy, this can even help provide a potential treatment for mental illnesses stemming from one’s environment and family.

Minimizes Fear of Failure

There is no fear of failure in an environment with only the ultimate goal of fostering mental wellbeing. This encourages growth as it reduces and removes any hesitation.

Impact of Positive Psychology

Positive Emotions That Support Recovery

In one study, positive psychology was utilized to help students deal with the stress of their semester.3 The results showed that the students experienced significantly improved moods and mental health, with higher overall happiness and satisfaction and lower depressive symptoms and stress compared to students not receiving positive psychology.3

While these results were received in an educational setting, they can also benefit a rehabilitation setting. Improved mood and feelings like optimism, gratitude, happiness, and empathy are essential positive emotions that can help support recovery from substance use disorders.

Positive Psychology in Addiction Treatment

Positive Psychology

Although positive psychology is not the newest form of addiction treatment, it has grown in recent years. Now, it is considered a leading alternative treatment for substance use disorders and addiction. The benefits of positive psychology provide a foundation for recovery, while the three tiers provide guidance and guidelines that help bolster the rate of success.4

Positive psychology can be beneficial on its own, but individuals seeking addiction treatment may find it helpful in combination with additional types of treatment as well. Because of the holistic qualities of positive psychology and its focus on the individual, it can be paired with medication to manage symptoms or psychotherapy to target any mental illnesses.

Find Help with Positive Psychology at Genesis Recovery

At Genesis Recovery, you’ll find high-quality positive psychology to assist in your journey, whether you’re looking for overall improved mental wellness or seeking to apply positive psychology to addiction. We offer a private escape with round-the-clock staff specializing in providing individualized, compassionate care during this turning point in your life. Along with positive psychology, you can also utilize a variety of other treatment plans, from medically assisted therapy to psychotherapy.


Taking the first steps toward recovery can be daunting, but here at Genesis, our
faith-based approach will guide you through your first steps and beyond.