Chapter 39The Interface Between Positive Psychology and Social Work in Theory and Practice


The fields of social work and psychology—each with its own unique missions and perspectives—have developed over the years as independent professions. However, with the evolvement of positive psychology on the one hand and the strength perspective in social work on the other, it seems the time has come to look at both fields together and see what they can learn from one another. The aims of the current chapter are to explore the interfaces between positive psychology and social work, to highlight common and complementary aspects of each profession, and to offer an integrative view. In the first part of the chapter, we present the basic underpinnings of positive psychology and social work and discuss the similarities between their definitions and goals; we also make note of their differences. In the second part, we focus on two major areas of intervention in social work, namely, domestic violence and mental health. Lastly, we discuss the challenges likely to arise from the integration of positive psychology principles and social work strategies into a unified new concept of positive regard for people and their environments.

Positive Psychology and Social Work—Definitions and Missions

The term positive psychology is a comprehensive term for the study of positive emotions, positive character traits, and enabling institutions (Seligman, Steen, Park, & ...

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