Positive psychotherapy

Am Psychol. 2006 Nov;61(8):774-788. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.61.8.774.


Positive psychotherapy (PPT) contrasts with standard interventions for depression by increasing positive emotion, engagement, and meaning rather than directly targeting depressive symptoms. The authors have tested the effects of these interventions in a variety of settings. In informal student and clinical settings, people not uncommonly reported them to be "life-changing." Delivered on the Web, positive psychology exercises relieved depressive symptoms for at least 6 months compared with placebo interventions, the effects of which lasted less than a week. In severe depression, the effects of these Web exercises were particularly striking. This address reports two preliminary studies: In the first, PPT delivered to groups significantly decreased levels of mild-to-moderate depression through 1-year follow-up. In the second, PPT delivered to individuals produced higher remission rates than did treatment as usual and treatment as usual plus medication among outpatients with major depressive disorder. Together, these studies suggest that treatments for depression may usefully be supplemented by exercises that explicitly increase positive emotion, engagement, and meaning. ((c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Social Behavior