Understanding PERMA: The Keys to Lasting Well-Being

The PERMA model in Positive Psychology; Martin Seligman

Bill Deggs, MA, LPC, RPT

11/18/20232 min read

brown wooden letter letter blocks
brown wooden letter letter blocks

Title: Understanding PERMA: The Keys to Lasting Well-Being

Date: November 18, 2023


In the realm of positive psychology, the PERMA model stands as a guiding framework for achieving lasting well-being and happiness. Developed by psychologist Martin Seligman, PERMA represents five essential elements that contribute to a fulfilling and meaningful life. This article explores the intricacies of PERMA, shedding light on how it can be applied in various aspects of our lives.

1. Positive Emotion:

The first pillar of PERMA is Positive Emotion, which focuses on experiencing and savoring feelings of joy, gratitude, love, and contentment. Encouraging individuals to cultivate a positive mindset, therapists often work with clients to identify and amplify moments of happiness in their lives. Techniques such as mindfulness and gratitude exercises can be effective in promoting positive emotions.

2. Engagement:

Engagement refers to the state of flow, where individuals become fully absorbed in activities that challenge and inspire them. For children and teenagers, this could involve finding activities that tap into their passions and talents. Through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and play therapy, therapists can help clients discover and engage in activities that provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

3. Relationships:

Strong social connections are vital for overall well-being. In therapy sessions, the importance of healthy relationships is emphasized, helping clients develop effective communication and interpersonal skills. Play therapy, in particular, can facilitate the exploration of social dynamics and improve relationship-building skills in children and teenagers.

4. Meaning:

Having a sense of meaning and purpose in life contributes significantly to well-being. Therapists often work with clients to explore their values and beliefs, helping them align their actions with their deeper sense of purpose. By integrating meaning into therapeutic interventions, therapists can guide clients towards a more fulfilling and purposeful life.

5. Accomplishment:

The final element of PERMA is Accomplishment, which involves setting and achieving meaningful goals. Therapists collaborate with clients to establish realistic and attainable objectives, fostering a sense of competence and self-efficacy. Through CBT techniques, clients can learn to overcome obstacles and celebrate their accomplishments, building resilience and confidence.


Incorporating the PERMA model into therapy sessions provides a comprehensive approach to fostering lasting well-being. By addressing positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment, therapists can guide clients, including children and teenagers, towards a more fulfilling and meaningful life. As we navigate the complexities of mental health, the PERMA model serves as a valuable roadmap for both therapists and their clients on the journey to lasting happiness.