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Character Strengths in Practice
Summary of Research Findings
- In an attempt to bring diffuse terms such as “strengths-based” and “strengths-based practitioner” into greater clarity, to unify strengths-based practitioners across fields, and to offer a bridge for researchers and practitioners, this theory paper offers clarifying operational definitions, six guiding principles, and specificity on character strengths practices that are soaring, emerging, and ripe with potential. This same framing is offered in regard to the current status of the science of character strengths. A survey of 113 strengths-based practitioners is summarized and woven into this discussion (Niemiec and Pearce, 2020).
Niemiec, R. M., & Pearce, R. (2020). The practice of character strengths: Unifying definitions, principles, and exploration of what’s soaring, emerging, and ripe with potential in science and in practice. Frontiers in Psychology.
- In a study examining the literature for core themes of positive psychological coaching, the most frequently occurring theme was strengths profiling and feedback where the coach helps the client understand their character strengths (van Zyl, et al., 2020).
van Zyl, L. E., Roll, L. C., Stander, M. W., & Richter, S. (2020) Positive psychological coaching definitions and models: A systematic literature review. Frontiers in Psychology, 11. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00793
- Outlines a framework for using character strengths in college admissions advising, based in the research and practices of character strengths. The process involves strengths-spotting in oneself and others, signature strengths work, you at your best, and best possible self with strengths, among other steps (Downing, 2019).
Downing, L. (2019). The case for character strengths in college admissions advising: The way you are is a great way to be. ScholarlyCommons: University of Pennsylvania. Available here.
- Summarizes the results of pilot studies done on positive psychotherapy, an approach to psychotherapy that is rooted in character strengths and offers equal attention to symptoms, weaknesses, and deficits as resources, hopes, and character strengths (Rashid, 2014).
Rashid, T. (2014). Positive psychotherapy: A strength-based approach. Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(1), 25-40. DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2014.920411
- Tayyab Rashid (2009; Rashid & Ostermann, 2009) discusses the rationale, importance, tenets, cautions, and conceptual framework for the use of character strengths in clinical psychology practice. For example, he argues that psychotherapists should assess and construct therapeutic exercises not just around transgressions but also compassion, not just targeting grudges and vengeance but also gratitude and forgiveness, not just negativity but also love and kindness.
1. Rashid, T. (2009). Positive interventions in clinical practice. Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session, 65 (5), 461-466.
2. Rashid, T., & Ostermann, R. F. (2009). Strength-based assessment in clinical practice. Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session, 65 (5), 488-498.
Updated May 2021