30. November 2023

Practical Application of Positive Psychology in Healthcare

Practical Application of Positive Psychology in Healthcare - Shifting the focus from pathology to salutogenesis with positive psychology approaches


The workshop will introduce the current research and application of positive psychology approach within the healthcare system. Traditionally the healthcare model focuses mostly on the disease-model (pathology focus) and less on the concept of salutogenesis (factors “causing” health and wellbeing). It is therefore extremely relevant to explore the positive psychology approach, including the concept of positive health, offered in the clinical setting. Current  literature, possible future steps and research possibilities in the field will be discussed. “Hands on” ideas on how to apply the positive approach and interventions in the day-to-day healthcare system ("on the floor") will be explored as well as possible applications in digital health (e-health/dtx). Different areas of the healthcare sector, such as preventive cardiology and the public health sector will be reviewed, and the concept of positive health will be introduced. We will examine how the application of positive psychology is relevant  or health promotion, including the primary care sectors and digital health through various routes such as social prescribing, positive psychology interventions, mindfulness and self- compassion.  A group session will be included in the workshop, in which participants will be encouraged to brainstorm ideas about the ideal future of the healthcare sector and how it could benefit from utilising positive psychology as a platform going forward.

Ideal Audience

The workshop is aimed at healthcare providers (HCP ‘s) such as medical doctors, nurses, psychologists, physiotherapists, health coaches and other HCPs working in direct contact with people /patients. It is also relevant for anyone interested in healthcare, policies, positive health, research in this field and the practical application of positive psychology in their daily work in the healthcare sector.

Learning outcomes

After the workshop you should go home inspired and full of ideas on how to apply the science of positive psychology in your work in the healthcare sector. The workshop will inspire and encourage participants to use the science and application of positive psychology to advance their career within the healthcare sector.

About Svala Sigurðardóttir

Svala is a medical doctor specializing as a family physician in Iceland. She is also a PhD candidate at the University of Iceland and Aarhus University currently doing research on the effects of Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for patients in primary care with mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety and/or depression.
Svala has a diploma in positive psychology and teaches positive health and introduction to basic positive psychology and mindfulness research to both 6th-year medical students, 4ht year nurse students, and students in the Master of public health program (MSc) in Iceland. She is also one of the teachers in the Icelandic diploma program of positive psychology in Iceland as well as the new positive psychology educational program, specialised for healthcare professionals at the University of Iceland - the first one of its kind in the world.
Svala took a leave from her family physician training from 2019 to 2023 as she was recruited to a digital health company, called Sidekick Health, where she was the clinical and therapeutic lead for the design and development of multiple disease-specific digital therapies (DTXs), for various chronic diseases, like Heart failure, Coronary artery disease, Rheumatoid arthritis and more. In all these DTX therapies, Svala made sure there were elements of positive psychology, mindfulness, and self-compassion, which she knows from her own practice, are extremely relevant and helpful for patients suffering from various diseases.
She is still consulting for Sidekick Health and is currently involved in multiple studies conducted at the cardiology department at the University Hospital in Iceland, in collaboration with Sidekick Health.
Svalas' main interest is the application of positive psychology approaches and positive interventions in healthcare, health promotion, and positive health. Her professional goal in life is to further incorporate positive psychology approaches to medical and nursing educational programs, as well as to the daily work of healthcare providers, in all sectors. Svala is passionate about introducing positive psychology and its application to physicians in primary care and hospital settings and connecting those working in the field.
She is the former executive secretary for the European Network of positive psychology and she is currently one of the physicians of the women’s national team of soccer in Iceland, and travels with them to tournaments regularly.
Svala is married and has 4 children aged 12 to 26 and lives in Iceland.