Flourishing means to grow or prosper and refers to a holistic, developmental sense of well-being. Aristotle used the term eudaimonia to refer to ‘the good life’ and argued that this is achieved through an integration of virtue, practical wisdom, and moral strength.
Our view of flourishing integrates both (a) hedonic or subjective well-being and (b) eudaimonic well-being, characterized by relational maturity, meaningful life purpose, self-determination, and communal concern. Adapting and growing through suffering is also an important aspect, such that flourishing and suffering are not mutually exclusive.
Virtues are “qualities of human character and excellence which enhance the capacity to live well, to live ‘the good life’” (Sandage & Hill, 2001, p. 243). Virtuous behavior springs from intrinsic motivation and dispositions that require wise deliberation on how to respond in particular contexts.
We understand virtues to involve a suite of cognitive, affective, motivational, contextual, and behavioral dimensions of psychosocial functioning. This framework potentially aligns well with the ways in which clinicians conceptualize clients, seek to help them develop constructive motivations and behaviors, and grow beyond self-defeating and harmful patterns.
Affect regulation is an individual’s ability to modulate emotional states in order to respond adaptively to their environment. This may include the down-regulation of negative affect (e.g., anxiety, depression), as well as the up-regulation of positive affect (e.g., enjoyment, curiosity).
Affect regulation can occur individually (self-regulation) or in relationships (co-regulation). Adaptive regulation processes allow clients to (a) more fully experience their emotional world, rather than dissociating or avoiding and (b) use emotion productively as cues to underlying needs, desires, and motivations.
Our project investigates the relational virtues of gratitude, humility, and forgiveness as mechanisms of change that promote eudaimonic flourishing in patients over time. The implicit or explicit cultivation of these relational virtues may be salient for how patients and therapists engage in treatment (e.g., group treatment patients with one another, individual patient-therapist alliance) and outside of treatment (e.g., patients engagement with significant others; therapists engagement with co-workers and significant others) and resulting effects on flourishing.