Ryan M. Niemiec

Ryan M. Niemiec
VIA Institute on Character

PsyD

About

63
Publications
116,153
Reads
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1,475
Citations
Introduction
As an educator, researcher, writer, and practitioner, my focal points are character strengths, mindfulness, meaning, spirituality, savoring, parenting, stress, peace, positive relationships, and disability. This involves collaborating with researchers and practitioners in organizations/workplace, education/schools, health/medicine, and counseling/coaching. As the creator of Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice (MBSP), I'm interested in "any" research on MBSP. I also am eager to champion the continued work on overuse/underuse/optimal use of character strengths, the interconnection of spirituality/spiritual living and character strengths, transforming the deficit-based approach to disability, creating positive parenting, & using strengths to promote peace.

Publications

Publications (63)
Article
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The purpose of this study was to examine the differences in character strengths for people with disabilities by using an international dataset by the VIA Institute on Character. Specifically, we aimed to explore (a) the top and bottom five character strengths reported by different disability groups and all people with disabilities more broadly, and...
Article
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Positive psychology has been largely distant from the substantial science of peace studies. This is unfortunate as the mutual synergy between these fields holds vast opportunity. Misconceptions and obstacles underlying this gap are highlighted, alongside counterpoints for each. The purpose is to lay a foundation for the integration of the science o...
Article
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A beatitude is a blessing. It is a form of appreciation that can be directed toward others or oneself. Theologically speaking, some frame the original beatitudes from The Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew as pertaining to “spiritual happiness”, and recent scholars have offered a compelling argument that they are a call to flourishing. Th...
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Hikikomori, or social withdrawal youth has become one of the most pressing social issues in Japan and this phenomenon is increasing in other countries as well. While there is a movement to pathologize this phenomenon as a new psychological disorder, these case reports provide a fresh perspective of hikikomori using the lens of character strengths i...
Article
Psychological traits, such as character strengths, have been already established in experimental studies as factors playing a favorable role for well-being and potentially reducing the risk of depression. Positive associations have been also reported between character strengths and physical fitness, self-reported physical and mental health. Yet, ev...
Article
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The integration of mindfulness and character strengths is an emerging area of research and practice. The evidence-based, 8-week program, Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice (MBSP) represents a unique approach in that the starting point and focus is on what is best in human beings – their character strengths. These qualities are then leveraged to i...
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As the COVID-19 global health disaster continues to unfold across the world, calls have been made to address the associated mental illness public crisis. The current paper seeks to broaden these calls by considering the role that positive psychology factors can play in buffering against mental illness, bolstering mental health during COVID-19 and b...
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What does it mean to be “strengths-based” or to be a “strengths-based practitioner?” These are diffuse areas that are generic and ill-defined. Part of the confusion arises from the customary default of practitioners and leaders across many cultures to label anything positive or complimentary as “strengths-based,” whether that be an approach, a theo...
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Nonpharmacological approaches to chronic pain are being increasingly sought out by therapists and health-care providers. Cognitive approaches to reduce pain catastrophizing have shown some efficacy; however, interventions used to increase well-being have not been investigated. In this study, we examined a strengths-based approach to reduce chronic...
Article
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Little attention has been given to the integral relationship between character strengths and spirituality (the search for or communing with the sacred to derive meaning and purpose). The science of character strengths has surged in recent years with hundreds of studies, yet with minimal attention to spirituality or the literature therein. At the sa...
Article
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Good movies have the potential to capture a trifecta of meaning: they can be enjoyable, engaging, and empowering. In other words, we experience pleasure, focused attention and concentration, and are inspired toward the good or reach new insights into ourselves, others, or the human condition. Drawing on the rapidly emerging science in character str...
Article
Numerous studies have confirmed the effectiveness of character strengths-based interventions for fostering well-being. However, there are still several open questions. The present article discusses some of the most important questions. We review the current body of research and provide ideas and possible future directions on issues such as: Should...
Article
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The science of well-being has catalyzed a tremendous amount of research with no area more robust in application and impact than the science of character strengths. As the empirical links between character strengths and positive outcomes rapidly grow, the research around strength imbalances and the use of strengths with problems and conflicts is nas...
Article
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Life is a collection of moments, some light and pleasant, some dark and unpleasant, some neutral. Character strengths contribute to the full range of human experiences, influencing and creating positive opportunities while also helping us to endure the mundane and embrace and navigate the struggles. Some researchers have argued that thriving, which...
Article
This article reports the results of an examination of the endorsement, reliability, and factorial validity of the VIA-Youth and assessment of character strengths and virtues developed for the general population in youth with and without intellectual disability. Findings suggest that, generally, youth with intellectual disability endorsed character...
Article
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Film and psychology are natural bedfellows, not merely aligned but inseparably woven as an art that will at times glide over our heads and other times will sink deeply into our psyche, leaving us forever changed. Film reviewers for PsycCRITIQUES know this dichotomy well and attempt to bridge the gap for readers and moviegoers. Films can inform or...
Article
Considering strengths when planning for postschool outcomes is critically important for all youth, including youth with disabilities, as strengths should guide the identification of meaningful postschool goals. However, there are a limited number of strengths-based assessment tools that have been validated with youth with disabilities. This article...
Chapter
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In what is arguably the widest reaching and most impactful accomplishment of positive psychology to date, Chris Peterson, Martin Seligman, and 55 scientists, embarked on an ambitious, 3-year project to review and research those characteristics that are best within human beings. They discovered 24 character strengths, found universally across cultur...
Chapter
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The science of character strengths and mindfulness has increased voluminously in the last couple decades but the application of each in the classroom, especially character strengths, has been limited and shallow. We outline four distinct areas of learning around mindfulness and character strengths to enable teachers to bring forth an optimal impact...
Chapter
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This chapter focuses on the contribution of strengths of character and mindfulness to the sense of meaning in life across central life domains, such as work, education, and family. Our conceptualization of character strengths is based on the universal VIA Classification of 24 character strengths, which are hierarchically organized across six broade...
Article
Despite a number of theoretical propositions suggesting that character strengths are multidimensional and may have darker sides, to date strengths have been approached strictly as a positive entity. The current study sought to (a) define and measure these darker sides of character strengths in the form of underuse-overuse, as well as their traditio...
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Mindfulness practice and character strengths have been determined as being two separate positive psychology interventions (PPIs). However, to date, no programme has researched and investigated the effects of combining these theoretically interlinked practices together, with the aim of enhancing wellbeing from a positive psychology perspective. The...
Article
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: Mindfulness practice and character strengths have been determined as being two separate positive psychology interventions (PPIs). However, to date, no programme has researched and investigated the effects of combining these theoretically interlinked practices together, with the aim of enhancing wellbeing from a positive psychology perspective. Th...
Article
Full-text available
Mindfulness and character strengths are synergistic tools that work together to cultivate well-being. Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice (MBSP) combines the research and practice of these constructs to enhance well-being, meaning, and engagement. In this article, research supporting how mindfulness and character strengths may benefit the gifted p...
Chapter
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Character strengths are often referred to as the backbone of positive psychology. Mindfulness has, at its essence, character strengths (e.g., self-regulation and curiosity) and numerous correlates and outcomes relating to character strengths (e.g., kindness, perspective, creativity) are associated with mindfulness practices. Mindfulness-based stren...
Article
There has been limited focus in the disability field on assessing and intervening to promote strengths of character. However, character strengths have received significant attention in the broader field of positive psychology. This paper provides an overview of the growing science of character strengths and explores why and how character strengths...
Article
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Positive psychology urges psychologists to ask a deeper and loftier question, what is right with children and adolescents, in addition to exploring their weaknesses. This chapter discusses a strength-based assessment approach in detail, arguing that that such an approach yields useful information above and beyond the information produced by traditi...
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Reviews the film, Divergent directed by Neil Burger (2014). Divergent is a unique film and a successful adaptation to screen of the book by the same name, no doubt due in part to its uncanny and innovative depiction of a number of themes in positive psychology and of the overuse of character strengths. Divergent features a dystopian society that ha...
Article
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The work of Chris Peterson and his colleagues provides a context and rationale for creating a new paradigm for character education. While most character education approaches (past and present) have served the purpose of inculcating societal norms and expectations, a positive psychology-based approach seeks to help individuals identify and engage th...
Book
The first third of the book reviews the latest research and best practices of mindfulness and of character strengths. The second third of the book outlines the integration of these areas, discussing practices and concepts around "strong mindfulness" (i.e., bringing character strengths to mindfulness practices) and "mindful strengths use" (i.e., bri...
Article
The primary care literature provides some useful information and several project examples for clinicians attempting to develop an integrated care practice, but prior discussion has been based largely on projects developed in government-funded or HMO systems. The current paper focuses on the business challenges of establishing an integrated care pra...
Article
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The Primary Care Behavioral Health Screen (PCBHS) is a self-report instrument developed to screen for behavioral health problems in primary care settings. The present paper describes development of the PCBHS and reports findings from item analyses and studies examining the instrument's convergent validity and test-retest reliability. Results sugges...
Chapter
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The VIA Classification is a widely used framework for helping individuals discover, explore, and use those qualities that are strongest in them – their character strengths. The VIA Inventory of Strengths is an accessible and widely used assessment instrument that measures 24 universally valued strengths. Research has found a number of important lin...
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This article explores the integration of mindfulness meditation and character strengths. Beyond simply focusing attention, mindfulness involves the cultivation of attention infused by an unconditional friendliness and interest Universally valued character strengths (Peterson ó Seligman, 2004) are useful cotistructs for such an infusion. Most mindfu...
Article
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The "Five Mindfulness Trainings" of Thich Nhat Hanh (1993) have been pursued and practiced by countless individuals over the years. The core of the trainings is mindful living, in which individuals apply heightened awareness to their relationships, health behaviors, and activities of daily life, while considering the impact of these on society. The...
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The documentary film, Happy, offers educators and practitioners a unique opportunity to provide a novel learning experience for students and clients. The film integrates meaningful stories and expert interviews with quality filmmaking to offer viewers knowledge, entertainment, and engagement. Cinematic elevation, the process by which a viewer obser...
Article
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The portrayal of death is one of the most common themes in movies and is often unrealistic, promoting misconceptions to the public. However, there are also many films that portray death acceptance in an instructive way. Such films depict the development of character strengths useful in embracing life and lessening death anxiety, namely zest, curios...
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Reviews the film, Alice in wonderland directed by Tim Burton (2010). The latest version of Alice in Wonderland is a strikingly creative work which builds from the 1951 Disney classic film. Though it is a continuation of the classic story in many respects, it is also a unique tale in its own right. Alice is now a 19-year-old, and she must decide wh...
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The purpose of this chapter is to consider what films from various countries say about mental health, strengths, and values; mental illness and psychopathology; and the portrayal of psychologists and psychotherapy. My hope is this will widen the reader's perspective of what international cinema offers and begin the assembly of a non-exhaustive reso...
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Reviews the film, Twilight, directed by Catherine Hardwicke (2008). Of the six core virtues (wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence) that Peterson and Seligman (2004) used as the basis of their seminal classification system, temperance is the virtue least portrayed in movies. It is therefore a surprise to see an extremely...
Article
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Reviews the film, The soloist by Joe Wright (2008). All too often Hollywood serves as neither a kind nor a fair advocate of those who have a mental illness, particularly schizophrenia. Often this psychiatric disorder is reduced to a horror movie prop, as well-known portrayals have predominately ranged from drooling, shuffling residents of hospital...
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Most behavioral health care is actually delivered by primary care physicians. Primary care clerkship students have a unique opportunity to learn about behavioral health and the integrated care model. Integrated care is an effective multidisciplinary model for delivering high quality care. Evaluate the efficacy of a brief curriculum in increasing st...
Article
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The following list includes a large number of films that are relevant to classes in positive psychology and related subjects. The films are classified according to the positive psychology typology developed by Chris Peterson and Marty Seligman in their book titled Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification (2004). All films are...
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Reviews the film, The pursuit of happyness directed by Gabriele Muccino (2006). The portrayal of positive psychology in the movies is a fascinating new area that warrants further exploration. For example, a clinician or instructor would do well to start with the film The pursuit of happyness . This film is based on the true story of an African Amer...
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Reviews the film, Batman Begins (2005) directed by Christopher Nolan. This film follows the life of young Bruce Wayne, Batman's alter ego before he became Batman. The traumatic childhood memories that led him to to fear bats are depicted through vivid imagery, giving the viewer an introspective look at why Wayne made the decision to devote his life...
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Psychologists and psychiatrists have been portrayed in hundreds of films for nearly a century. They are most often depicted as clinicians working in various settings such as psychiatric hospitals and mental health centers. Many recent films have included psychologists as lead characters. Are these portrayals accurate? Are they improving? Are the ag...
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The reviewer notes that The Station Agent (2003) is a film that delves deeply into the nature and development of friendship. Whereas many directors use heavy-handed techniques to develop psychological constructs, this film uses silence, subtle nuances, and nonverbal behavior to portray the life cycle of friendship--"how we make friends, how we beco...
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This article discusses the ways in which client attitudes about mental illness, psychotherapy, and therapists are shaped by contemporary films. Five common myths about mental illness that are promulgated by films are discussed, and the potential applications of films in psychotherapy are reviewed. Numerous examples of films relevant to psychotherap...

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