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Practicing Positive Psychiatry

A highly practical book for all mental health professionals wanting to know how to apply positive psychiatry in their daily work Positive psychiatry is the science and practice of psychiatry and clinical psychology that seeks to understand and promote wellbeing among people who have or are at high risk of developing mental health problems. In […]

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A highly practical book for all mental health professionals wanting to know how to apply positive psychiatry in their daily work

Positive psychiatry is the science and practice of psychiatry and clinical psychology that seeks to understand and promote wellbeing among people who have or are at high risk of developing mental health problems. In this new approach, the person takes center stage, not the disease, and the focus is not only on repairing the worst, but also on creating the best in our patients.

The authors from the fields of medicine and clinical psychology present over 40 applications and many cases and stories to illustrate the four pillars of positive psychiatry: positive psychology, solution-focused brief therapy, the recovery-oriented approach, and nonspecific factors. The book shows how mental health professionals can significantly increase patient collaboration to co-create preferred outcomes through discovering possibilities and competencies and through building hope, optimism, and gratitude.

Essential reading for psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, other professionals working in the field of mental health care as well as students who want to take a positive focus to make psychiatry faster, lighter, and yes, more fun. We have high hopes that positive psychiatry will become a firm part of the psychiatry of the future.

“We congratulate the authors on having done an outstanding job in packaging a subject matter that we share as the core of psychiatry practice and research. It is our belief that positive psychiatry and a focus on wellness can produce lasting results, augmented by psychopharmacologiy and various other treatments. This book defines a critical time point in the evolution of psychiatry.”

Dilip V. Jeste and Varsha D. BadalMD, Past President of the American Psychiatric Association / PhD, University of California San Diego

“Fredrike Bannink and Frenk Peeters have created a practical resource where different perspectives that put the promotion of well-being before the reduction of symptoms are brought together. The entire book is packed with useful clinical vignettes, cases, applications, and stories that help contextualize and apply its contents. It is an excellent tool to get introduced to this field in a practical way but without forgetting its theoretical foundations.”

Francisco José Eiroa-Orosa, PhD, Ramón y CajalResearcher and Professor, Department of Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatment, University of Barcelona, Spain

“This volume provides psychiatrists and other mental health practitioners with new ways to support recovery and well-being. Numerous stories and case studies illustrate how positive mental health and solution-focused approaches are used in practice, and the book is full of guidance underpinned by scientific evidence. This is a valuable book for anyone working to support people with mental health issues.”

Mike Slade, PhDProfessor of Mental Health Recovery and Social Inclusion, University of Nottingham, UK


Delving into a perspective on mental health care underrepresented in the literature, this work both makes a case for and provides guidance on how to shift the focus of psychiatric care. Pushing back against the focus on psychopathology, the authors explore the potential of a more supportive, patient-centered approach. Separated into six chapters and a collection of appendixes for easy reference, they cover everything from needed paradigm shifts to helpful applications of positive psychiatry. A first edition, this text was originally published in Dutch, but is now released in English.

Through well organized and comprehensive material, the authors aim to bring positive psychiatry to the forefront of the field. Informative and practical, they hope to shape the future direction of psychiatry as a field. Highlighting historical focus on the disease and minimizing symptoms, they envision the psychiatrist as not only an expert, but a collaborative guide helping the patient not only to survive, but to thrive.

The audience is overtly identified as all mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, residents, other mental health practitioners, and students. Focusing on those in the field as a whole is necessary to truly begin to broadly shift culture and attitude to patient values, assets, and well-being. As an overview text, the authors effectively meet the goal of making the content accessible to all within the field. The authors are clear experts in psychiatry as well as psychotherapy and are based primarily in the Netherlands.

Each chapter in the book covers a different topic relevant to learning about and practicing positive psychiatry. Clear subtopics within each chapter further organize the content, and relevant cases, applications, figures, and summary tables are incorporated along the way. The application chapter is particularly useful in summarizing key components of psychiatric care as it is, with guidance as to how one might incorporate or shift the treatment approach to encourage positive change. The writing is clear, and the transition from Dutch to English is seamless. The authors take a unique approach within the appendixes in categorizing various cases, stories, and applications for reader reference. An introductory text of sorts, it provides an opportunity for future exploration by the authors.

One of the first books in the field of positive psychiatry, the combination of summarization of the research and practical application is particularly salient for more patient-centered care. It is refreshing in its perspective that those with mental health conditions can not only live with their disease but can find healing and growth through treatment. With publication during a challenging time in the world, the authors offer a new path within psychiatry of gratitude, optimism, and hope.”

Hannah E.H. WilliamsPine Rest Christian Mental Health Services

“The book Practicing Positive Psychiatry touches on significant and central questions of mental health in a world dominated by pandemic. This global threat calls into question how humans live and work together and how we may want to understand and help them in our practice.

Paradoxically, our world today, which is more connected than ever through social networks, is also more fragmented and alienated than ever before. Progress in science and technology has led to gradual atomization and fragmentation not only as a sociocultural phenomenon but also within the social sciences with the emergence of subdisciplines (Kumar, 2003). Yet, specialization may act as a 'double-edged sword'. While an analytical approach may potentially be productive in generating new knowledge, overreliance on it may be counterproductive, given the complex and multifaceted nature of mental health and reality at large. A fragmented and segmented view may inhibit our capability of making sense of human phenomena, thus resulting in a risk of oversimplification, reductionism, or partial understanding. In the context of mental health, with the contemporary specialization of health professions and the differentiation into a multitude of subspecialties in medicine and psychology, dismantling individuals and human life into components and ingredients appears to yield a “hunger to be understood as a whole person … the desire to be understood and treated not as a liver, or a depression, or an addiction but as a complete and integrated person” (Miller & Thoresen, 1999, p. 10).

When we examine the etymology of the word health, we find that the Latin source of the word is hal, which means whole; capturing this etymological connection, one of the dictionary definitions of to heal is to make whole. Humans need to be understood and validated holistically, rather than as fragmented components. The importance of a holistic approach to the treatment, recovery and healthy development of individuals has become even more crucial in the face of the ongoing challenges of the Covid-19 crisis. Few mental health professionals have experience dealing with the psychological consequences, such as rising levels of avoidance, substance abuse, anxiety, stress, depression, and suicidal ideation triggered by the pandemic, to name a few (e.g., Czeisler et al., 2020). Such a new and challenging situation requires flexibility, creativity, and integrative attitude from mental health professionals. It is against this background that this book is so timely, as it delineates a worthwhile pathway to a more holistic and positive outlook on psychiatry and mental health care in particular, and on human nature as a whole.

In a nutshell, this book is about the practice of hope. It begins with a promise - "From what's wrong to what's strong", and throughout the pages, this promise comes alive and is realized through various exercises, illustrative case studies, and tools. The text is not only useful for students and interested readers who want to learn more about and gain a better understanding of the fast-paced growing theoretical and empirical perspective of human flourishing and well-being as framed under positive psychology, but it also carries great value for clinicians practicing it. For practitioners, the book offers a comprehensive, integrative and accessible theory-based intervention methods, compelling ideas and engaging practical tools. For scholars, it can serve as an important starting point, orienting readers to relevant and central concepts and theories, and laying the groundwork for a deeper and more substantive further exploration of conceptual foundations mentioned in the book, such as resilience, post-traumatic growth, and meaning, to name a few.

The authors define positive psychiatry as a form of positive healthcare, which aims at promoting well-being rather than reducing disease, and integrates four sources of knowledge: positive psychology, the solution-focused approach, the recovery-oriented approach, and the nonspecific factors in psychotherapy (such as positive alliance). Along these lines, the book is composed of six broad chapters: The first chapter introduces the paradigm shift from a focus on the disease to a focus on the person, and the addition of synthesis to analysis. The second chapter takes a step further and delves into the conceptual frameworks which underlie the approach of positive psychiatry (such as positive psychology, the solution-focused approach, and recovery-oriented approach). The third chapter reviews central ideas and developments involved in the recovery-oriented approach, such as definitions of recovery, practices of a recovery-oriented approach, and a model for mental health service delivery. The fourth chapter details more than 40 hands-on applications and interventions, including exploring strengths, positive imagery, applications for each of the five pillars of PERMA (i.e., positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment), and online interventions. The fifth chapter summarizes professional reflections and feedback from patients, followed by the sixth chapter which binds together FAQs to allow greater accessibility and relevance to practitioners' work.

Taken together, this book's strength lies not only in its conceptual clarity and organization of core foundational principles of positive psychiatry, but also in its capability to apply these ideas and demonstrate their tangible wisdom to human challenges, relevant to any individual from all walks of life. The fragmentation, uncertainty and instability of our times present new challenges — human, social, therapeutic, educational, conceptual, and methodological. As a whole, the book signals important advances in the understanding and use of positive psychology, resilience, and recovery-oriented frameworks to enable human growth and transformation in the face of such challenges. The authors have joined their expertise to share promising insights in the rapidly growing area of positive psychology, leading readers through a thought-provoking journey.

The world has changed and continues to change rapidly and dramatically, yet humans’ inherent needs and essence haven’t changed. Shedding light on hope, strengths and growth, the book presents an integrative discussion that broadens the scope of what it means to be human.”

Pninit Russo-NetzerPh.D., Head, Education Department, Achva Academic College