VIA Character Strengths

Point School Puerto Rico

What are Character Strengths?

  • Character strengths are a common language that holds true across cultures and are used to describe a person’s best attributes. 
  • There are 24 character strengths that can be used as pathways towards six predetermined virtue categories.
  • Strengths can be used to develop self-awareness, relationship skills, self-regulation, etc.


How Can I Identify My Character Strengths?

  • The VIA Character Strengths Survey is a free, on-line, 240 item measure used to rank personal strengths from 1-24 based on your perception of your core attributes. This survey has been empirically tested; proving to be reliable and valid (Niemiec, 2017). 
  • Your top five strengths are considered your signature strengths!


What Do I Do With My Character Strengths?

Ryan Niemiec (2017), Director of Education at the VIA Institute suggests introducing and building signature strengths based on a three-part process:

  • Aware: Becoming aware of your character strengths with the intentions of getting to know yourself and your relationships with others better. 
  • Explore: Assessing your initial reactions towards your strengths. Understanding which strengths you use in certain situations and which strengths you are taking for granted. Reflecting on past and current behaviors in order to decide how to use your strengths to prioritize your time and energy for a flourishing life.
  • Apply: Creating action items and goals around developing your strengths for optimal use. Learning how to build your strengths off of one another to compensate for areas of growth.


How Do We Use Character Strengths With Our Clients at Point School Puerto Rico?

  • Aware
    • Clients will take the VIA Character survey within their first week at PSPR.
  • Explore
    • Clients will debrief with therapist to understand how he has been using top strengths in the past, which strengths are optimally, over, or underused, and how strengths effect current behaviors and decisions.
    • Clients will learn how to understand and appreciate themselves and others through the lens of strengths.
    • Client may also use other forms of strengths exploration:
      • Reflective journal topics
      • Mindfulness reflection
      • Group discussion with peers, staff, and/or family
  • Apply
    • Clients will decided which strengths are most important and create goals around developing optimal use of strengths into daily life.
    • Clients will practice their strengths regularly in order to form positive habits.
    • Clients and staff will use common language of strengths to positively affirm usage and development within each other
    • Clients will be asked to use their strengths in new ways regularly
    • Clients may keep track of the use of their strengths and how they affect mood, behavior, etc.
    • During Thrive Phase, clients will include strength goals into their transition plan and identify how they will be using their strengths as they return home or to college in order to continue thriving.


Freidlin, P., Littman-Ovadia, H., & Niemiec, R. M. (2017). Positive psychology: Social anxiety via character strengths underuse and overuse. Personality and Individual Differences, 108, 50-54. 

Niemiec, R. M., (2017). Character strengths interventions: A field guide for practitioners. Boston, MA: Hogrefe Publishing Corporation.

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