Self-Directed Online Course

Relationships are the number one generator of well-being; gone awry, they produce pain and misery. This 5-week module attempts to distinguish between myths and facts in the realm of relationships—whether between lovers, friends, family members, as well as teachers and students. It introduces the science behind this seemingly elusive realm, without extinguishing its allure and beauty.

Objectives and Outcomes
  • Understand the key drivers of healthy and happy interpersonal relationships, and learn how to apply this understanding to one’s own and others’ relationships.
  • Increase intimacy in a relationship by shifting the focus from the need to be validated to the focus on knowing and being known.
  • Learn the 5:1 positivity ratio and how to use disagreements, disputes, and serious gridlocks as fuel for growth.
  • Recognize the importance of a positive focus within a relationship and practice active constructive responding.
  • Going through the process of differentiation as a way of progressing from dependent self-esteem to independent and unconditional self-esteem.

Program Faculty

Dr. Tal Ben-ShaharTal Ben-Shahar, PhD, is an author and lecturer who is dedicated to helping people be the change they want to see in the world. He taught the largest course at Harvard on “Positive Psychology” and the third largest on “The Psychology of Leadership”—with a total of over 1,400 students. In his mindfulness lectures and workshops, Tal integrates theory and practice, East and West, philosophy and psychology.

Over a five-week period, students participate in a completely online curriculum that features one new class every week. Lessons in each class consist of watching approximately 60-90 minutes of a prerecorded video lecture with Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, class assessments and assignments, and practice applications.

The course is completely asynchronous, which means you can start at any time and participate whenever it is convenient for you during the five-week window.

This is a self-directed curriculum. No homework is submitted and no grades are given. You will receive a certificate of completion when all lessons are completed.

The Certificate in Positive Psychology course uses the same video lectures with the added bonus of two onsite immersions, small peer work groups, live conference calls with faculty, and ongoing support for the full 11 months. Please note refunds are not provided if you decide to take the certificate course at a later date.


No prerequisites are required for this course. Technology requirements include an Internet connection.


Class 1: Learning from Thriving Relationships
Relationships are the number one generator of the ultimate currency. However, they can also be the source of much unhappiness. Most long-term relationships either end, or they continue devoid of joy and passion. Using the approach of Positive Psychology this class addresses the lessons learned from relationships that thrive.

Class 2: Being Known & Conflict
There is a common misconception that the most difficult—and important—part of a happy relationship is finding Mr. or Mrs. Right. This misconception comes from the movies, where after some trials and tribulations, the curtains close and the protagonists live happily ever after. However, movies end where love begins: the most important part of a thriving relationship is the work done once one is in a relationship. This class looks at what it means to invest in one’s relationship, and thereby to increase the likelihood of living happily ever after.

Another common misconception concerning relationships is that the most important component of lasting love is the ability to unconditionally accept, and be accepted by, one’s partner. However, as the work of David Schnarch and other researchers shows, more important than validation is “knowing and being known.” Getting to know one’s partner, and revealing oneself to one’s partner, is the way to cultivate intimacy in a relationship, and a way to enjoy increasing passion in a long-term relationship.
The idea of knowing and being known can be applied to other forms of relationships, whether with family members, students, or friends.

Class 3: Positive Focus
One of the basic tenets of Positive Psychology is that a positive focus creates a positive reality. This idea most certainly applies to relationships: Appreciating those things that work within the relationship and in one’s partner strengthens the bond that exists between partners or friends. This class explores the research illustrating that it is possible to evaluate (and increase) the health of a relationship by looking at its positive-to-negative ratio. One method of increasing this ratio is through active- constructive responding.

Class 4: Self—esteem
There is a reciprocal relationship between personal development and the development of one’s relationships. As the psychologist Nathaniel Branden points out, the more independent we become, the more interdependent we can be. This class explores the idea of differentiation, and how the shift from dependent, to independent, and to interdependent self-esteem can provide a healthy foundation for thriving relationships—with oneself and others.

Class 5: Self—Esteem & Relationships
Building on the previous lesson, this class explores the role of self-esteem in the context of

Please note refunds are not provided if you decide to take the certificate course at a later date.

Tuition for this course is $295.

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