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So grateful… PhD, addictions, positive psychology

head in hands

For those of you who don’t know I have been working on my PhD thesis for the last four years and it’s been one of the most tedious things I have ever done. I’ve had to research and write about all the current forms of psychological approaches to addictions (there’s a lot of them)- all of which are only currently achieving a 15% success rate of helping people with addictions to recover.
Learning about things that don’t actually work has never intrigued me greatly – but hey- them’s the rules of writing academic pieces.

Imagine my surprise this week when I moved onto the topic of positive psychology; it was like finding a beautiful desert island in an ocean of grey porridge. As I read some of the academic papers (see bibliography at the end of this blog) I stumbled over words that I haven’t read for the last four years; words like





PUPPYI felt my heart leap, my tail began to wag again; it had been so long that I’d forgotten that those words existed in this field. Hooray for positive psychology; finally someone is taking notice of what’s really important in life and doing the research that needs to be done- and because scientific research is the currency of truth at the moment, it’s actually really important to get these words in academic journals.

Those of you who know of my work will know that using exactly this kind of language, which is technically called ‘Salutogenic’ (health giving), has been a core part of my work with the Lightning Process, NLP & health coaching in helping people to find a route to recover from serious physical and emotional illness.

Wishing you a fabulous, awesome, exciting, joy-filled rest of the day- and I don’t care who hears me say it!



Want to know more about the power of words check out this blog post

Phil’s currently working to change the world of addiction treatment through his PhD, an RCT on the Rediscovery Process – moving on from addictions to a flourishing life.

P.s please leave a comment and join the mailing list to get these blog and more great ideas and videos for free


Galanter, M. (2007). Spirituality and recovery in 12-step programs: An empirical model. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 33(3), 265–272.

Hart, K. E., & Singh, T. (2009). An Existential Model of Flourishing Subsequent to Treatment for Addiction: The Importance of Living a Meaningful and Spiritual Life. Illness, Crisis, & Loss, 17(2), 125–147.

Keyes, C. L. (2015). Flourishing after addiction: An invited commentary on the McGaffin et al.(2015) study. Addiction Research & Theory, 23(5), 361–363.

Krentzman, A. R. (2013). Review of the Application of Positive Psychology to Substance Use, Addiction, and Recovery Research. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors : Journal of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors, 27(1), 151–165.

Levy, N. (2006). Autonomy and addiction. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 36(3), 427–447.

Lindgren, K. P., Mullins, P. M., Neighbors, C., & Blayney, J. A. (2010). Curiosity killed the cocktail? Curiosity, sensation seeking, and alcohol-related problems in college women. Addictive Behaviors, 35(5), 513–516.

McCoy, K. (2008). Flow and Spiritual Transcendence: The Conditions of Positive Experience and Usefulness for Therapeutic Outcome in Substance Abuse Recovery. Wright Institute.

Pickard, H., & Pearce, S. (2013). Addiction in context: Philosophical lessons from a personality disorder clinic. Addiction and Self-Control, Ed. N. Levy. Oxford University Press.

Singh, T. (2009). From Suffering to Flourishing: The Transformational Effects of Finding Meaning and Spiritual Striving in Overcoming Addiction. International Journal of Existential Psychology and Psychotherapy, 3(1). Retrieved from

Vaillant, G. E. (2014). Positive Emotions and the Success of Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 32(2-3), 214–224.

Wong, P. T. (2011). Meaning‐Centered Counseling and Therapy: An Integrative and Comprehensive Approach to Motivational Counseling and Addiction Treatment. Handbook of Motivational Counseling: Goal-Based Approaches to Assessment and Intervention with Addiction and Other Problems, 461–487.

Zemansky, T. R. (2006). The risen phoenix: Psychological transformation within the context of long-term sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 66(8-B), 4506.

About Phil Parker

Phil specialises in the psychology of health, happiness and genius.

2 Responses to So grateful… PhD, addictions, positive psychology

  1. Natasha says:

    Brilliant article Phil! Hooray for Positive Psychology indeed.

  2. John Sanders says:

    Hi Phil, thanks for the article. I use positive psychology with individuals who have substance use disorders everyday. Both in group and individually. I think it helps people envision a happy, fulfilled life, which can keep their motivation high even when they may be struggling.

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