May 20, 2020

What does a positive psychotherapist do that a regular therapist doesn’t?

Today I’m here with the wonderful Dr. Margarita Tarragona, and she is a world specialist on the topic of applying positive psychology to psychotherapy.

How do positive psychology and clinical psychotherapy come together?

For a very long time, therapists were trained just to look at what’s problematic, painful, and traumatic. But it’s also essential to have a broader view of human beings and to always be aware that at the same time that there are difficulties, problems and pain, there is also brilliance, hopes and dreams, and strengths.

Positive psychology has been defined to have more balanced psychology, a psychology that has tools to help alleviate what’s difficult, but also means that help people flourish. These tools apply to therapy, too, tools and interventions that help people get over what’s keeping them stuck or what’s painful, but also tools that help them be the best they can be.

People used to say that regular or traditional psychology would take you from minus five to zero, and positive psychology will take you from zero to plus five. Most people go to therapy not because they want to come out neutral, but because they want to thrive as well.

Why have a psychotherapist who has been trained in positive psychology? Why is that important?

It’s essential to have a therapist who does not transmit a culture of deficit to you who takes your pain seriously. And at the same time, they are aware of your strengths, your dreams, what you value in your life, and what is valuable about you. I think that even if it sounds subtle, it creates a different context and a different kind of relationship and experience. If you go to a therapist immersed in a culture’s deficits and focuses on what’s wrong, that becomes part of your identity. Research shows us that people who have depression and/or anxiety do respond very well to positive activities or positive intervention.


Margarita Tarragona is a psychologist, specialized in the processes of personal and relational transformation, such as coaching, consulting and psychotherapy. She holds a PhD in Psychology from the University of Chicago, is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Association for Positive Psychology (IPPA), co-founder of Grupo Campos Elíseos, a training center in psychotherapy and positive psychology in Mexico City, Guest professor at various universities in the country and abroad and author of numerous publications and books. 

For more information, visit: https://positivamente.com.mx/

Comments 1

  1. Was very inspired
    by Dr Tarragona’s approach / view to psychotherapy. Thank you for the written notes and introducing her!

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