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Learn how to help your clients rewrite their life stories to overcome difficulties, articulate their values and dreams, and embody their preferred identities. Narrative practices and positive psychology complement one another and enrich your therapeutic work.

This course offers a unique approach that integrates research findings about happiness derived from positive psychology with the fundamentals of narrative practices, including

  • Understanding therapy as co-research and “tip of the branch” research
  • Exploring dominant/alternative stories and preferred identities
  • Externalizing conversations and their relationship to optimism
  • Highlighting unique outcomes and their relationship to the client’s values and dreams
  • Learning about relational identity and clients’ positive relationships
  • Conducting narrative interviews about strengths
  • Engaging in re-authoring conversations and using the power of writing to promote well-being
  • Creating definitional ceremonies that strengthen meaning and the savoring of clients’ achievements.

Positive Psychology and Narrative Practices in Therapy is an eight-week course beginning May 3, with live webinars on Tuesdays from 12:00 to 1:30 pm EDT. After the final day of class, students will have another five weeks of access to the virtual classroom, including the recordings of webinars.

Key Principles
This course is theoretical and experiential. You get a clear conceptual framework of the basics of narrative therapy, then use the practices for yourself in class and on your own, and extend the practices to use with your clients. Areas of study include the following:

1. Narrative Psychology and Narrative Practices
Explore the psychological importance of story-ing, or narrating experience; learn about the “text analogy”; and examine dominant and alternative stories and their role in the construction of personal identities.

2. The Integration of Positive Psychology and Narrative Work
Positive psychology and narrative therapy, while they come from very different traditions, have much in common. They build on each other. This class offers a rationale for how they can be used together to potentiate therapeutic transformation.

3. Using Writing and Conversation to Strengthen Our Preferred Identities
Reflection and dialogue are generative and become motors for transformation. Throughout the course, you will complete a number of written exercises, and practice and develop the skills you’re learning with your colleagues, in various conversational formats.

    Learn how to use questions, dialogue, and written documents to

  • Separate the problem from the person and foster self-efficacy
  • Identify problem-saturated stories and unique outcomes that challenge these dominant stories and allow hope to emerge
  • Highlight experiences in clients’ lives that strengthen positive identities
  • Find out how important relationships contribute to the client’s life, and inquire about the contributions the client makes to the lives of others
  • Accompany clients in their journey toward their preferred ways of being and toward flourishing, happier lives.

Who This Course Is For

The course is designed for therapists who already have a foundation in positive psychology (or can commit to the pre-work video lectures to get grounded in positive psychology) and want to create a synergy between the study of human flourishing and narrative work.

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This user-friendly course will be offered via webinar (audio and video), so you can participate in the manner and at the time of day that best suits your schedule. Class materials will be e-mailed in advance. Recordings will be posted following each session for those unable to join live or who would like to review the material again.

Weekly exercises include peer-to-peer video calls (via Skype, for example) to practice narrative conversations and foster generative dialogues. Students should have (or be willing to learn) rudimentary skills in using video call technology.

Schedule and Time Commitment
The live webinars will be held on Tuesdays from 12:00 to 1:30 pm EDT, on May 3, 10, 17, 24, and 31, and June 7, 14, and 21.

Students are expected to devote approximately three hours per week to the course:

  • 1 hour of reading
  • 1.5 hours for the webinar
  • 30 minutes for personal exercises
  • 30 minutes for conversation with a peer.

Peer Work
Students will meet weekly with a conversational partner, online or via telephone, for approximately 30 minutes.

Assignments will include the following components:

  • Reading one chapter from the textbook and/or one journal article per week
  • Doing one or more individual exercises (which will not be shared)
  • Having a conversation with a peer to share reflections about the week’s reading and exercises.

Final Project
The final project will be a personal reflection about the process and how you can apply positive psychology and narrative practices in in your work as a therapist. Upon completion of the course, students receive a Certificate of Completion.

Program Faculty

MargaritaDr. Margarita Tarragona is a psychologist who specializes in personal and relational transformation. As a clinician, coach, and organizational consultant, she incorporates scientific findings on flourishing from positive psychology with conversational and narrative ways of working with clients, in order to generate dialogue and expand their life stories.

Margarita holds a PhD in psychology from the University of Chicago, and specialized in family therapy at the Family Institute of Northwestern University and the Ackerman Institute for the Family. She co-founded and teaches at Grupo Campos Elíseos, a training institute in Mexico City. She was the director of the Instituto de Ciencias de la Felicidad Tecmilenio, where she created a positive psychology class taken by thousands of college students.

Margarita is on the board of directors of IPPA (International Positive Psychology Association) and is a global representative for IPEN (International Positive Education Network). She is also a member of the Taos Institute and the American Family Therapy Academy. She contributes regularly to academic publications and popular media. Margarita is the author of Positive Identities: Positive Psychology and Narrative Practices.

Teaching Assistant

Phoebe AtkinsonPhoebe Atkinson is a graduate of the inaugural Certificate in Positive Psychology (CiPP) program and the teaching assistant mentor for CiPP United States. A practicing therapist in New York City, she is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW-R) and a board-certified trainer, educator, and practitioner in psychodrama, sociometry, and group psychotherapy (TEP).

Phoebe’s areas of expertise include design and facilitation of both clinical and corporate training programs. As a certified coach, Phoebe delivers executive leadership programs for Fortune 500 companies and, for the past 13 years, has co-facilitated asignature program that resides at Rutgers University Institute for Women’s Leadership.

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