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POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY LINK TO ADDICTION RECOVERY

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2. How does positive psychology differ from regular psychology in terms of addiction recovery?

I think Positive Psychology offers a different approach from traditional therapy that focuses more on what you are doing "right" and how to amplify that instead of focusing on what is wrong and what you are trying to avoid.  When you focus on your strengths, particularly in the beginning of recovery, it can feel empowering and give you a much-needed boost of confidence.

Knowing and using your top 5 strengths in new and creative ways (I use the VIA Strengths test at www.authentichappiness.com) has been found to make people both happier and more successful.  Positive psychology also brings in concepts of getting into flow by challenging yourself with hard goals, and then using your strengths to make progress on those goals.

There is research showing that all success with goals is preceded by being in a flourishing emotional state, so I'd also suggest that everyone in recovery learn about the research on "positive interventions" - the behavior/mental shifts you can deliberately perform to put yourself into a flourishing state.  It's important to also understand how to set the "right" goals that will enhance success, not focus on superficial or extrinsic outcomes.

There are also concepts around savoring that can be taught, as well as mindfulness meditation, that enhance self-regulation and reduce impulsivity.  I'm also a big believer in teaching people how to become more resilient, much like is being taught to the US Army right now by Positive Psychology researchers from the University of Pennsylvania.  You need resilience and grit to survive the setbacks and challenges that inevitably occur when you are pursuing recovery, and although you may stumble upon these concepts in random ways, I believe they offer so much hope and practical guidance that Positive Psychology should be integrated at the start of anyone's recovery.

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Caroline Adams Miller, MAPP, is an internationally-known coach, author, educator and motivational speaker on the topic of goal accomplishment and its connection with happiness, and is recognized as one of the world's leaders on this research and how it can be applied to one's life for maximum transformation and growth. She is also the author of several heralded and ground-breaking books, including "My Name is Caroline" the first autobiography by a bulimia survivor (Doubleday 1988 and soon-to-be re-released in 2013), and most recently "Positively Caroline," the first autobiography by a bulimia survivor who has decades of recovery.

Caroline is one of the first graduates of the Master's of Applied Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania (2006), and her capstone project became the best-selling book, "Creating Your Best Life" (Sterling 2009), the first mass market guide to the connection between the science of happiness and the science of goal accomplishment. She has been featured in the media for decades, and XM Radio featured her "Tip of the Day" for two years. Caroline is a graduate of Harvard University and mother of three adult children who lives in Bethesda, MD with her husband.


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