Positive psychology, well-being, schools, resilience, character strengths
Positive psychology is a scientific study aiming to promote optimal functioning (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). It is a rapidly developing field that provides empirical research in areas such as character strengths, resilience, mindsets, life meaning and positive emotions. The purpose of the article is to identify how rigorously-evaluated positive psychology interventions can be used by Guidance Counsellors to enhance students’ well-being, reduce depression and improve their school performance.
Whilst positive psychology interventions have been extensively used in clinical and educational settings (Seligman, Rashid, & Parks, 2006; Freres, Gillham, Reivich, & Shatte, 2002), they have only recently been applied to the work of Guidance Counsellors. In the US and UK educational policies have changed and programmes such as Penn Resiliency (University of Pennsylvania) has been introduced in hundreds of schools. They use positive psychology interventions to enhance students’ post traumatic growth, reduce their depression and suicide rates, which is particularly relevant in view of the Mental Health Guidelines recently launched in Ireland (DES, 2013). Research shows that positive psychology interventions may be more effective in fighting depression than traditional approaches (Seligman, Rashid, & Parks, 2006) and are particularly beneficial for young people (Sin & Lyubomirsky, 2009)
This ground-breaking article introduces some of the most effective Interventions Guidance Counsellors can use to supplement their work with students. It is not Guidance Counsellor´s role to engage in therapeutic counselling. Nonetheless, some of the interventions presented in this paper might help Guidance Counsellors to be even more effective in their jobs. It demonstrates how rigorously-evaluated PPIs can enhance the work of Guidance Counsellors in Ireland and it recommends further developments necessary to effectively integrate Positive Psychology into Irish schools.