The science of self-help: Translating positive psychology research into increased individual happiness

Stephen Matthew Schueller*, Acacia C. Parks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Positive psychology aims to understand the positive side of human functioning, expanding research on positive behaviors, cognitions, emotions, and character traits. The findings of this research have highlighted strategies (e.g., savoring, gratitude, kindness, social relationships, and hope and meaning) that, when practiced, lead to increases in individual happiness. Researchers and practitioners have translated these strategies into effective interventions that can be disseminated directly to individuals, allowing them to actively pursue greater levels of happiness. We present a summary of the current state of positive psychological interventions as they pertain to self-help. A major focus in the application of positive psychological interventions for self-help is dissemination - ensuring that those interested have access to evidence-based strategies to increase their happiness. The future of selfhelp involves spreading these practices through classes, workshops, books, and increasingly prevalent technologies such as Internet sites and mobile applications. We outline unique concerns related to providing self-help in the absence of professional support including motivation and engagement, variety and flexibility, and person-activity fit. As positive psychology has developed a host of evidence-based practices, the next stage of research requires implementing these strategies in ways to support their use in real-world contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-155
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Psychologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Dissemination
  • Evidence-based practices
  • Happiness
  • Positive psychology
  • Self-help

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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