Friday, February 7, 2014

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Addressing a Fear of Happiness in Counseling

Colours of happiness
(Photo credit: Camdiluv ♥ from Concepción, CHILE)
Recent research described in Scientific American suggests that some people with mental health problems may fear positive emotions. We usually think of happiness something worth seeking, but some people may avoid it out of a concern that if they are happy today, they are likely to feel worse tomorrow.

It is easy to imagine how a fear of positive emotions could complicate the counseling process. Many counseling approaches utilize methods designed to increase positive feelings, especially for individuals suffering from depression. These approaches might seem unrealistic or even threatening to someone with a fear of happiness.

For someone with a fear of positive emotions who is seeking counseling, it may be helpful to discuss this fear with one's counselor early in the relationship. Working to increase one's acceptance of happiness early in the counseling process could lead to a more positive and successful experience.