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Summary of Research Findings

Research Articles

  • This article evaluates the unique contribution of strength-based methods (SBM) in psychotherapy through a systematic review and meta-analysis, finding that SBMs are associated with more favorable immediate patient outcomes and a small but significant overall effect size in favor of strength-based psychotherapies. The results suggest that SBMs can enhance psychotherapy efficacy, recommending their integration into clinical training and practice across different treatment models (Flückiger et al., 2023). Flückiger, C., Munder, T., Del Re, A. C., & Solomonov, N. (2023). Strength-based methods–a narrative review and comparative multilevel meta-analysis of positive interventions in clinical settings. Psychotherapy Research, 1-17.

  • Through two studies (N = 283, N = 188), this research examined the relationship between flexibility and character strengths, focusing on three dimensions of flexibility (predictability, adaptability, and orderliness) and providing a foundation for designing integrative positive interventions that explore the interplay of character strengths and various facets of flexibility. Results from both studies indicate a significant overlap between flexibility and character strengths, suggesting that adaptability positively correlates with most strengths, predictability positively correlates with humility and prudence, and orderliness positively correlates with perseverance, prudence, and self-regulation (Vylobkova & Heintz, 2023). Vylobkova, V., & Heintz, S. (2023). A meeting of positive behaviors: The relations of three aspects of flexibility with character strengths. Frontiers in Psychology, 13, 1078764.

  • This chapter underscores the unique and vital role of character strengths in social work fieldwork, emphasizing the importance of a strengths-based approach in social work education. The chapter discusses a study involving 196 undergraduate social work students in Greece, which identified six key strengths as crucial for competent fieldwork —honesty, fairness, love, humor, kindness, and perseverance—and explores how the unique yet interconnected elements of these strengths intersect (Papouli, Chatzifotiou, & Tsairidis, 2022). Papouli, E., Chatzifotiou, S., & Tsairidis, C. (2022). Character strengths and virtues for competent fieldwork education: Perspectives of undergraduate students from two university departments of social work in Greece. In The Routledge handbook of field work education in social work (pp. 469-486). Routledge India.

  • This article investigates the impact of strengths-based coaching on coachees who identified their strengths using the VIA Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS), based on data from five semi-structured interviews analyzed through Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). The study highlights three key themes: the increased awareness of strengths, the development of a subjective self, and the conscious application of strengths, demonstrating how strengths-based coaching enhances self-awareness and equips individuals to effectively apply their strengths in various life situations. Simmons, P. (2023). Coachees experiences of strengths-based coaching when identifying their strengths with the VIA Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS). International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, S17, 179-192. DOI: 10.24384/gq3k-mg37

  • This article clarifies the distinctions between various types of positive interventions and includes a meta-analysis of studies examining behavioral outcomes from Strengths-Based Positive Interventions (SBPIs), with the ultimate aim of reviewing the effectiveness of SBPIs in eliciting positive behavioral outcomes. Results suggest that although SBPIs seem to be effective for eliciting behavioral change relative to control conditions, the effect is small to medium and available data are too limited to support SBPIs as an alternative to traditional approaches that focus on direct symptom reduction (Bates-Krakoff et al., 2022). Bates-Krakoff, J., Parente, A., McGrath, R.E., Rashid, T., & Niemiec, R.M. (2022). Are character strength-based positive interventions effective for eliciting positive behavioral outcomes? A meta-analytic review. International Journal of Wellbeing, 12(3), 56-80.

  • 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, 2021).
    Niemiec, R. M., & Pearce, R. (2021). 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.

  • 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

  • This study addresses the gap in empirical research on the use of client strengths in the context of counseling psychology and proposes a taxonomy for guiding future research on positive therapeutic processes. The study sought to explicitly identify positive processes thought to regularly occur in mainstream therapies by interviewing therapists and found five key themes that illustrate how therapists often utilize client strengths to enhance therapy outcomes: (a) amplification of strengths, (b) contextual considerations, (c) strength-oriented processes, (d) strength-oriented outcomes, and (e) positive meaning-making. Scheel, M. J., Davis, C. K., & Henderson, J. D. (2013). Therapist use of client strengths: A qualitative study of positive processes. The Counseling Psychologist, 41(3), 392–427.

  • 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 2024