Q. As a professional, why would I choose to use VIA Character Strengths in my work?
A. The basis for many professions, such as typical psychology training programs, is not focused on strength and building up what is strong in individuals, rather the focus is exclusively or strongly tilted toward problems, psychopathology, and what is wrong with individuals. When this is combined with research showing that “bad is stronger than good” and that the human brain is “wired for the negative” readily picking up on problems and weaknesses, there is a significant need to correct this bias with a counter-balance or a different approach. A strengths-perspective helps the professional to “see” more of the person they are treating, guiding, or mentoring; it offers the professional a more complete picture that is simultaneously energizing for both the practitioner and client. Such an approach does not negate or avoid problems, rather it offers a different “lens” for seeing them.
Q. What sort of information can you share with me to help me benefit my clients?
A. In its courses, webinars, and trainings, the VIA Institute offers an extensive amount of education, ranging from scholarly articles, guides for using the VIA Inventory, handouts, best practices, video links, and other educational materials. If you have a specific need or question, e-mail Ryan Niemiec, VIA Education Director at email@example.com.
Q. Do I need a specific professional accreditation to use the VIA Classification or VIA Inventory in my work?
A. The short answer is “no.” VIA has put forth this work for the world, thus does not wish to impose a restriction that only certain people can use it. VIA has found that those individuals who attend our workshops or presentations on applying this work benefit greatly and begin to understand a depth to this work that is not immediately apparent to many individuals. To learn more about our Online courses, click here.
There are currently no certifications that we offer on the work with VIA character strengths. Individuals who complete our courses receive a “certificate of completion,” however, it is not a certification. VIA is currently in discussion about creating a course that would certify practitioners’ knowledge in understanding and applying VIA character strengths.
Q. Are there other places where I can read more about your work?
A. Yes, there are scholarly books and trade books on the topic. The best scholarly book is Character Strengths and Virtues (2004), by Chris Peterson and Martin Seligman, which is the original text on the development, criteria, and characteristics of each of the 24 strengths in the VIA Classification. In addition, most positive psychology textbooks devote at least one chapter to character strengths, as well as chapters discussing specific strengths (e.g., gratitude, kindness, courage/bravery, and so forth). The best trade book on the topic is Authentic Happiness (2002) by Martin Seligman. Check out some of our book recommendations here (include hyperlink to this section on our site).
Q. Where can I get additional help using the VIA in various settings?
A. In addition to perusing both the VIA website and our YouTube channel, we recommend taking a look at our popular workshops that offer a deep dive into understanding and applying character strengths, namely our online VIA Course. VIA is currently developing an array of additional workshops to help educate practitioners and enhance their armamentarium of tools and practices for helping others.
Q. Who do I contact for permissions to reprint the VIA Classification in my work?
A. The VIA Classification of Strengths & Virtues is copyrighted material and does require permission to reprint. Contact our Communications Specialist, Kelly Aluise, and provide her with a detailed description of where the Classification will be reprinted and how it will be used.
Q. Who do I contact if I want to collaborate with the VIA Institute in some way
A. It is important to be clear in what you have in mind, as each individual has a unique picture as to what they are hoping for with a collaboration. We want to ensure that good fitting ideas are not lost in the shuffle. Here are some examples you can review to see where you might best fit:
- The person is interested in conducting their own research. E.g., they want to give the VIA Survey to their employees, clients, etc. and want to study them as a group, and collate/aggregate the data. Yes, individuals can receive a research code for this. Or, the person wants to conduct other research for their dissertation, master’s thesis, or some other work project. VIA’s response to any requests under this point: That is great! Please go to click here to go to the VIA Institute on Character site and submit the form requesting a research code. Problems with this can be directed to Kelly Aluise, VIA Communications Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org
- The person is looking for grant dollars to support a project relating to character strengths and/or positive psychology. This is a fair question, however, VIA is a non-profit organization and does not give out grants (it receives them).
- The person does not have anything specific in mind; they want to brainstorm ideas. Because of the breadth of requests and ideas and projects VIA works with, it is best to have a good level of clarification that can be laid out in writing.
- The person is interested in VIA giving a presentation or consultation to their group/institution or co-authoring something with VIA. VIA’s response will be based on a number of factors, including the type/scope of the project, thoughts from the VIA team, the time/availability of VIA staff that are the best match for it, and VIA connections with additional collaborators/consultants. For this, the person should make specific as many details as possible; send info to Ryan Niemiec, VIA Education Director, at email@example.com
- The person has some specific ideas in mind for some other collaboration with VIA, and the project is of mutual benefit, does not involve grants, and it supports or extends VIA’s mission to educate the world about character strengths applications. The person should write out what their “ideal” collaboration would look like, speculate on potential roles, time involvement, and the intended benefit to themselves (their group), to VIA, and to the public.