Reviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D.(Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book focuses on character strengths, part of strengths-based practice in the positive psychology movement. It describes 24 character strengths, which are the most positive qualities of people, and provides summary sheets that may be reproduced for personal/client use.
Purpose: The purpose is to bring together "the vast experience of the author with the science and the practice of positive psychology in such a way that both new and experienced practitioners will benefit."
Audience: The book targets new practitioners who "will learn about the core concepts of character and signature strengths and how to fine-tune their approach and troubleshoot," and experienced practitioners who "will deepen their knowledge about advanced topics such as strengths overuse and collisions, hot button issues, morality, and integrating strengths with savoring, flow, and mindfulness." The author is education director of the VIA Institute on Character and has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles/chapters on character strengths and mindfulness.
Features: The book describes 24 character strengths, noting that "all 24 character strengths matter," and that they can be developed, especially as one practices "being and doing." The author states that people who use strengths have an increased probability to have positive relationships, meaning in their lives, and achievement. The author provides six integration strategies for strengths-based practitioners: "Recognize, label, and affirm strengths in yourself; character strengths are social, therefore never stop strengths-spotting in others; align character strengths with activities and tasks; use the strengths-based practice model; embed character strengths into your professional approach and theory; and use your own strengths in sessions and meetings." The book describes potential problems and proposed solutions, along with misconceptions of the strengths-based model. In addition, handouts describing the 24 character strengths can be reproduced for personal/client use. The book ends with character strengths awareness and use. Eight appendixes provide information on the background of the VIA classification of character strengths and frequently asked questions about character strengths and the VIA Institute. The book is easy to read with many tables and figures, which help clarify the text.
Assessment: This is an excellent book on the positive psychology movement with an emphasis on character strengths. The reproducible handouts can be used for personal/client use.