Scott Glassman, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine – Positive Psychology

On Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine Week:  Being positive may be hard, but it can be worth it.

Scott Glassman, clinical assistant professor in the department of counseling, explores feeling good mentally and physically.

Dr. Glassman is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Associate Director of the MS Program in Mental Health Counseling at PCOM. He is also a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers and a consultant for the Family Medicine department at PCOM, assisting with the integration of behavioral health in primary care. He has presented on brief adaptations of motivational interviewing at the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association’s Annual Clinical Assembly and Mercy-Fitzgerald Hospital Grand Rounds.

Dr. Glassman trains DO students in patient-centered communication and has developed patient-centered medical home initiatives at PCOM that foster collaboration between counseling and psychology students and healthcare professionals.

His areas of interest include primary care psychology, the patient-centered medical home, positive emotions in motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral approaches, psychological consultation, recovery-oriented models of care, and statistical methods.

Positive Psychology

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Over the past 20 years, the field of positive psychology has made significant contributions to our understanding of happiness and well-being, establishing a science of flourishing.  The father of positive psychology, Dr. Martin Seligman, proposes that happiness is the sum of 5 parts: experiencing positive emotions, being absorbed in pleasurable or meaningful activities, having positive relationships, living with purpose, and achieving our goals. 

Studies have shown that we have more control over feeling good, and more ways to feel good, than previously thought.  For instance, expressing gratitude has been associated with less depressed mood, better sleep, less fatigue, more committed relationships, and lower levels of aggression.  People who are kind to others are more likely to experience empathy, compassion, and social connectedness.  Research also supports the idea that we all carry with us a set of signature character strengths.

Positive emotions affect us physically as well.  Laughter increases how well our immune system functions, promoting the activity of natural killer T-cells.  Feelings of love activate our brain’s pleasure center with the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine and the hormone oxytocin, which helps us feel more bonded with others.

“A Happier You” is a group program I’ve developed with activities and discussions related to these topics.  Over 7 weeks, we help people form what we call a “positive information bias,” a stronger ability to pay attention to, and celebrate, positive aspects of life in a supportive social setting.   In our groups, we are seeing the social contagion effects of positivity that researchers have described: when we feel happy, the people around us are more likely to feel the same way.

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  1. Collie Conoley

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