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Positive Psychology:
Theory and Application
Society of Counseling Psychology’s Section on Positive Psychology
of the American Psychological Association Newsletter
In This Issue!
Volume 11, Issue 1
Summer 2016
News from the Chair Rhea Owens, Ph.D. 2
Section Award Winners 4
Application of Micro-affirmations to Advising and Mentoring International Students 5
in the U.S. Hang-Shim Lee, Ph.D.
Understanding the Relationship Between Gratitude and Emotion Regulation 9
Self-Efficacy Rebecca Kinsey, M.A & Jacob Yuichung Chan, Ph.D.
Goal Focused Positive Psychotherapy in a High School Dropout Prevention Program 15
Michael Scheel, Ph.D., Collie Conoley, Ph.D., Kendal Cassidy, Zoe Chen,
Alexandra Dahl, & Robert Byrom
Positive Psychology and Trauma: Understanding and Enhancing Posttraumatic 21
Growth Lara Barbir, M.S.
A Situated Approach to Chinese Well-being: Research and Application 27
Shu-Yi Wang
Division 17 Positive Psychology Section: A Student Representative’s View 31
Adam Fishel, M.S.
Meet the Executive Board & Call for Communications Officer Position 32
Meet the Student Campus Representatives 33
Editor in Chief: Rhea L. Owens, Ph.D.
Editing Assistant: Megan Betka, B.S.
Editorial Board: Blake Allan, Ph.D., Brian Cole, Ph.D., and Collie Conoley, Ph.D.
Volume 11, Issue 1
Greetings from the Section on Positive Psychology!
It’s been an exciting year and we have many updates to share!
APA Recap
We had an amazing time at the American Psychological Association Convention with an
outstanding turnout for all of our programs! Our Roundtable, Expanding the Reach of Positive
Psychology, had such an excellent turnout we couldn’t fit around the table! Students and
professionals joined us for the social, which was a lot of fun. The Section Collaborative
Symposium: Applications of Positive Psychology Across Diverse Contexts, discussed positive
psychology assessment approaches, as well as a gratitude intervention for college students.
Finally, our business meeting was quite productive. We discussed the criteria for our Student
Campus Representative positions, how to disseminate resources to our membership, and
potentially pursuing a Section journal and expanding our Section to Division status.
Summer 2016
Rhea Owens, Ph.D. is the Chair of
the Positive Psychology Section and
an Assistant Professor of
Counselling Psychology at the
University of British Columbia. She
received her M.S. and Ph.D. in
Counseling Psychology from the
University of Kansas. Her research
interests include positive
psychological interventions and the
assessment and development of
strengths, particularly with child and
youth populations.
Volume 11, Issue 1
Student Leadership Opportunities
In the future, if students are looking for leadership opportunities,
there are several available options. On the Executive Board, students
can apply for the Student Representative, Practice Representative,
Teaching Representative, and Research Representative positions.
These are two-year positions that begin in August at the APA
convention. An email is typically sent out through our listserv in the
Spring regarding applications and deadlines.
Another leadership opportunity available includes the Student
Campus Representative positions. We accept applications for these
positions on an on-going basis and ask students to participate for
approximately one year; however, involvement can extend beyond
one year. This position involves increasing knowledge about and
engagement in positive psychology at the Student Campus
Representatives’ universities. If you are interested in applying, please
go to our website:
rep-application/. Our Student Representative will then contact you.
Become a Member
We’re a fun group! And it’s free to join!
To join, please go to:
Featured Members
Beginning in 2015, the Section began featuring
some of our amazing members on a monthly
basis. These highlights, including an interview
with each member, are sent out through our
listserv and also shared on our website:
Past featured student members included:
Rebecca Kinsey (Ball State University),
Beatriz Bello (University of California, Santa
Barbara), Shu-Yi Wang (Indiana University
Bloomington), Dominika Borowa (Texas Tech
Univeristy), and Blake Allan (University of
Florida; now Assistant Professor at Purdue
Past featured professional members included:
Donnie Davis (Georgia State University),
Hang-Shim Lee (Oklahoma State University),
Brian Dik (Colorado State University),
Christine Robitschek (Texas Tech
University), Jennifer Teramoto Pedrotti (Cal
Poly State University), Jeana Magyar-Moe
(University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point),
and Michael Scheel (University of Nebraska-
Summer 2016
Volume 11, Issue 1
Section Awards
Each year, the Section gives out two awards—the Student Award for Distinguished Contributions in
Positive Psychology and the Shane J. Lopez Award for Professional Contribution in Positive
Psychology. Information about the awards and application process can be found here:
We are very excited to announce this year’s award winners:
Student Award for Distinguished Contributions in Positive Psychology: Hanna Suh (University of
Hanna Suh was born in Seoul, South Korea
and received her undergraduate and master’s
degree in psychology at Yonsei University,
South Korea. She obtained her Ph.D. in
counseling psychology at the University of
Florida and completed her doctoral internship
at the University of Pennsylvania Counseling
and Psychological Services. Her research
generally falls under positive psychology,
focusing on how resilience can be built
through mindfulness and self-compassion
Information about the awards and application process can be found here:
Summer 2016
Volume 11, Issue 1
Application of Micro-affirmations to Advising and Mentoring
International Students in the U.S.
Hang-Shim Lee, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the APA-
accredited Counseling Psychology Program at Oklahoma State
University. She received her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from
the University of Missouri and her M.A. in Psychology from Ewha
Womans University in Seoul, South Korea. Her main research
interest involves multicultural vocational psychology within a
positive psychology framework. She is currently conducting several
research projects on the positive academic adjustment of
international students in the U.S. and gender/ethnic minority
engineering students ’ academic persistence and psychological
well-being. She may be reached by email:
According to the annual report of the Institute of International Education (Open Doors,
2015), a total of 974,926 international students were enrolled in U.S. college and universities
in the 2014-15 academic year, which represents a 10% increase from the previous academic
year. International students are often at a greater risk of experiencing psychological and
academic problems than their domestic counterparts due to unique challenges such as
language barriers and a lack of social support and connectedness (Misra & Castilio, 2004;
Olivas & Li, 2006). Even though international offices in the U.S. universities provide basic
Shane J. Lopez Award for Professional
Contribution in Positive Psychology: Joel Wong,
Dr. Joel Wong is an Associate Professor in
Counseling/Counselor Education and Counseling
Psychology at Indiana University Bloomington. He is also
an affiliated faculty member with the Asian American
Studies Program and the Center for Research on Race
and Ethnicity in Society. Dr. Wong specializes in
Asian/Asian American mental health, the psychology of
men and masculinities, positive psychology, and cross-
cultural counseling. Dr. Wong is a fellow of APA and an
associate editor for the Journal of Counseling
Psychology and the Psychology of Men and Masculinity.
Summer 2016
Volume 11, Issue 1
likely to be productive and perform better in
the working settings than others.
In terms of applying micro-
affirmations in educational settings, Powell,
Demetriou, and Fisher (2013) suggested that
practice of micro-affirmations could foster
students’ academic satisfaction, self-efficacy,
resiliency, and a sense of belonging by
increasing students’ persistence levels when
students experience academic changes. A
qualitative study of diverse graduate students’
experience related to micro-affirmation also
supported the positive outcomes by reporting
that students who experience micro-
affirmations are more likely to feel
empowerment, positive emotions,
connectedness, and wellness (Kock, Loche,
Loche, & Knutson, 2015). These results
suggest that it could be useful for educators
to pay attention to the positive impact of
micro-affirmations and application of micro-
affirmations in the educational setting.
Application of Micro-affirmations to
International Students
There are various ways that faculty
and academic advisors can be micro-
affirmative in the educational settings. The
following sections discuss ideas on how
faculty and academic advisors can be micro-
affirmative in their daily interactions with
international students through examples.
Acknowledge international
students’ unique cultural background. The
definition of acknowledgement is the act of
admitting the existence or truth of something.
Faculty can be micro-affirmative by
acknowledging international students’
cultural background, such as their origin of
nation and unique cultural heritage (e.g.,
celebrating the Lunar New Year or Fall Full
Moon Festival holidays). Faculty who are
working with international students might be
able to ask questions such as, “I heard that!
Summer 2016
resources and information to support
international students’ adjustment through
orientations, there is a lack of guidelines for
faculty and academic advisors on how to
advise international students and help their
academic success in the U.S. When we think
about guidelines or strategies to support
international students’ academic success in
the U.S., many people may think about
large-scale interventions such as special
workshops, orientations, or seminars.
However, small, but daily interactions
between faculty and international students
can be more powerful to enhance
international students’ positive academic
adjustment in the U.S., rather than one-time
workshops or orientations. Thus, this brief
article aims to introduce the concept of
micro-affirmation and provide ideas on how
academic advisors and faculty in the U.S.
universities could utilize this concept when
they advise international students through
daily interactions.
The Concept of Micro-affirmations
The concept of micro-affirmations
was originally developed with reference to
gender inequality in workplace settings
(Rowe, 1974). Micro-affirmations refer to
small and subtle acts facilitating welcoming,
comforting, and inclusive atmosphere for
underrepresented individuals or groups who
may feel invisible in the working
environments (Rowe, 2008). While Rowe
described that micro-affirmations might be
“unintentional, unconscious, and subtle
acts,” she also highlighted that micro-
affirmations can become “intentional,
conscious, and practicable acts.” She
mentioned that micro-affirmations can be
very hard to recognize but can be very
powerful to help an individual or groups to
succeed. Rowe (2008) explained that
individuals who receive micro-affirmations
from co-workers or supervisors are more
likely to be productive and perform better in
you have a Lunar New Year in February.
How do your family and friends back home
celebrate Lunar New Year holidays?”
International students who are asked those
questions by academic faculty might feel
being cared for, especially during the time
of their big cultural holidays and events that
they might miss in the U.S. These are small
and simple questions, but those can reduce
the feeling of cultural loss among
international students who are not able to
celebrate these big holidays with their
Recognize international students’
strengths beyond language barriers. It is
important for the faculty to understand and
recognize that international students are
more likely to focus on their deficits due to
their language barriers and lack of cultural
confidence in a new cultural context that is
different from their home culture. Micro-
affirmative acts from faculty may help
international students recognize their own
strengths and empower them to further
develop their strengths rather than focusing
on their language barriers or lack of cultural
confidence. An example would be to say,
“Even though your English is not perfect,
you are still a good student. While I am
working with you, I notice that you have a
lot of brilliant ideas on this topic and you
are very good at organizing ideas. I think
these are your big strengths.” This micro-
affirmative recognition of international
students’ strengths coming from a faculty
member might boost international students’
self-efficacy and academic interests. These
small and tiny recognitions of international
students’ strengths from faculty daily-based
observations may play a big role in
enhancing the academic motivation of
international students.
Normalize international students
challenging experience. Although
international students report feeling satisfied
with their overall educational experience in
Volume 11, Issue 1
the U.S., most international students
experience cultural, social, financial, and
psychological challenges beyond academic
challenges (Gulgoz, 2001; Sam, 2001; Yeh
& Inose, 2003). Some academic challenges
are commonly shared by both American
students and international students, such as
giving a public presentation to a large
audience. However, international students
may tend to more easily internalize those
challenges as their fault or attribute them as
their individual problem. It would be
important for advisors to help international
students understand that these challenges
could be common to everyone, by using
micro-affirmative communication. An
example of this type of helpful advising
might be, “It is natural that you feel anxious
about your presentation. Speaking in front
of a big audience might be scary for anyone,
not only for you.”
So far, a considerable amount of
research has been primarily focused on
examining factors that influence academic
stress, mental health issues, and
acculturation stress of international students
in the U.S. (Mori, 2000; Zhang & Goodson,
2011). However, the factors that support
international students’ flourishing and
thriving in U.S. educational settings have
been largely ignored in the current literature
(Tseng & Newton, 2002). To help
international students to thrive in their
academic work, faculty and academic
mentors may start with very small acts, such
as warm eye contact, asking how to
pronounce their name correctly and about
their cultural background, with micro-
affirmative attitude and communication
skills. A macro-impact on positive
adjustment of international students
ironically may start from the very tiny
everyday interactions.
Summer 2016
Volume 11, Issue 1
Gulgoz, S. (2001). In S. Walfish & A. K. Hess (Eds). Stresses and strategies for international
students succeeding in graduate school: The career guide for psychology students
(pp.159-179). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.
Keyes, C. L. (2002). The mental health continuum: From languishing to flourishing in life.
Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43, 207-222.
Koch, J. M., Knutson, D., Loche, L., & Loche, R. (2015, January). In Koch, J. M. (Chair),
Microaffirmation: A constructive move forward from microaggression. Symposium
conducted at the meeting of National Multicultural Conference and Summit, Atlanta, GA.
Misra, R., & Castillo, L. G. (2004). Academic stress among college students: Comparison of
American and international students. International Journal of Stress Management, 11,
Mori, S. C. (2000). Addressing the mental health concerns of international students. Journal of
Counseling & Development, 78, 137-144.
Olivas, M., & Li, C. (2006). Understanding stressors of international students in higher
education: What college counselors and personnel need to know. Journal of
Instructional Psychology, 33, 217-222.
Open doors (2015). Institute of international education.
Powell, C., Demetriou, C., & Fisher, A. (2013). Micro-affirmations in academic advising: Small
acts, big impact. The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal. Retrieved from
Rowe, M. (1974). Saturn's rings: A study of the minutiae of sexism which maintain discrimination
and inhibit affirmative action results in corporations and non-profit institutions. Graduate
and Professional Education of Women. Association of University Women, 1–9.
Rowe, M. (2008). Micro-affirmations and micro-inequities. Journal of the International
Ombudsman Association, 1, 45-48.
Sam, D. L. (2001). Satisfaction with life among international students: An exploratory study.
Social Indicators Research, 53, 315-337.
Tseng, W. C., & Newton, F. B. (2002). International students' strategies for well-being. College
Student Journal, 36, 591-597.
Yeh, C. J., & Inose, M. (2003). International students' reported English fluency, social support
satisfaction, and social connectedness as predictors of acculturative stress. Counselling
Psychology Quarterly, 16, 15-28.
Zhang, J., & Goodson, P. (2011). Acculturation and psychosocial adjustment of Chinese
international students: Examining mediation and moderation effects. International
Journal of Intercultural Relations, 35, 614-627.
Summer 2016
Volume 11, Issue 1
Summer 2016
Rebecca Kinsey, MA is a doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology
department at Ball State University. Her research interests include positive
psychology applied to vocational behavior, gratitude and savoring, and scale
development and evaluation.
Jacob Yuichung Chan, PhD is an associate professor in the Counseling
Psychology department at Ball State University. He received his PhD from
the University of Wisconsin at Madison. His research interests include
psychosocial aspects and vocational issues of people with chronic illness
and disabilities, positive psychology, and cross-cultural studies.
Understanding the Relationship Between Gratitude and Emotion
Regulation Self-Efficacy
Gratitude is conceptualized as an affective trait (i.e., disposition) and is defined as “a
generalized tendency to recognize and respond with grateful emotion to the roles of other
people’s benevolence in the positive experiences and outcomes that one obtains” (McCullough,
Emmons, & Tsang, 2002, p. 112). Gratitude interventions have yielded a number of positive
outcomes including higher satisfaction with life and environmental mastery (Carson et al., 2010);
positive affect (Chan, 2010); decreased stress and depressive symptoms (Cheng, Tsui, & Lam,
2015); and better sleep (Digdon & Koble, 2011).
Researchers have found that gratitude interventions can lead to positive benefits for
participants. One study (Carson et al., 2010) found increasing one’s gratitude also increased
one’s sense of self-efficacy. However, after reviewing the literature, it appears researchers have
not investigated the relationship between gratitude and emotion regulation self-efficacy. Caprera
et al. (2008) described self-efficacy in regulating negative affect as the “beliefs regarding one’s
capability to ameliorate negative emotional states once they are aroused in response to adversity
or frustrating events and to avoid being overcome by emotions such as anger, irritation,
despondency, and discouragement” (p. 228). Self-efficacy in expressing positive emotions refers
to “beliefs in one’s capability to experience or to allow oneself to express positive emotions, such
as joy, enthusiasm, and pride, in response to success or pleasant events” (p. 228). Perhaps if a
person learns how to express and cultivate gratitude, s/he may feel as though s/he is better able to
express positive emotions and regulate negative emotions. Thus, the researchers hypothesized
that grateful disposition and experiences of of grateful emotions (e.g., thankfulness) would
predict positive and negative affect and emotion regulation self-efficacy.
Volume 11, Issue 1
Participants were recruited from
undergraduate counseling psychology courses.
The sample consisted of 158 participants
(male = 16; female = 141, other = 1). Because
there was a large disparity between the
number of females and other genders, the
researchers excluded participants who
identified as male or other. As a result, the
total sample consisted of 141 female
participants with the average age of 21.15. The
ethnicity for the sample was as follows: 83.1%
identified as White, 12% identified as African
American, 4.2% identified as Latino, and 4.2%
identified as another ethnicity (Asian, Native
American, or Other).
Participants completed the Gratitude
Questionnaire-6 (GQ-6; McCullough et al.,
2002), three affective gratitude items
(Emmons & McCullough, 2003), the Positive
and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS;
Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988), and the
Regulatory Emotional Self-Efficacy Scale
(RESES; Caprara et al., 2008).
Gratitude. Dispositional gratitude was
measured by the GQ-6 (McCullough et al.,
2002). The GQ-6 is a six-item measure that
assesses dispositional gratitude. Participants
answered questions on a 7-point Likert scale
(1 = strongly disagree; 7 = strongly agree).
Sample items include: “I have so much in life
to be thankful for” and “I am grateful to a
wide variety of people.” The GQ-6 has shown
to have good internal consistency with an
alpha ranging between .82 to .90 (Emmons &
Kneezel, 2005; McCullough et al., 2002).
Higher scores indicate greater degrees of
dispositional gratitude. The internal
consistency reliability estimate for the GQ-6 in
this study was .77.
Affective Gratitude. Following the
research of Emmons and McCullough (2003),
affective gratitude was measured by three
affective states: grateful, appreciative, and
thankful. Participants answered how often they
felt these emotions over a few weeks on a 5-
point Likert scale (1 = very slightly or not at
all; 5 = extremely). Higher scores indicate
experiencing a high degree of grateful
emotions over the last few weeks. Internal
consistency reliability estimate for the
affective gratitude questions in this study was
PANAS. The PANAS (Watson et al., 1988) is
a 20-item scale that measures positive and
negative affect. Through exploratory and
confirmatory factor analysis, the measure has
shown to have two factors: positive affect and
negative affect. Participants respond to
questions regarding how often they have
experienced each emotion over the last two
weeks on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = very
slightly or not at all; 5 = extremely). The
PANAS has shown to have good internal
consistency with alphas at .88 for the Positive
Affect scale and .87 for the Negative Affect
scale (Watson et al., 1988). Higher scores
indicate more positive or negative affect.
Internal consistency reliability estimates for
the Positive Affect Scale in this study was .84
and .89 for the Negative Affect Scale.
RESES. The RESES (Caprara et al., 2008) is
a 12-item scale that measures participants’
ability to regulate their negative emotions
including distress and anger/irritation and their
perceived ability to express positive emotions.
Participants answer on a 5-point Likert scale
(1 = not well at all; 5 = very well). Sample
items include, “How well can you rejoice over
your successes?” and “How well can you keep
from getting discouraged in the face of
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Volume 11, Issue 1
The RESES consists of two factors: positive
and negative emotional regulation self-
efficacy. The “positive” factor consists of
questions related to respondents’ ability to
express their positive emotions. The
“negative” factor consists of questions related
to respondents’ ability to regulate their distress
and anger/irritation. Scores are obtained by
averaging the responses on the subscales.
Internal consistency reliability estimates for
the negative emotion regulation self-efficacy
scale was .87 and .71 for the positive emotion
regulation self-efficacy scale.
After approval from the university’s
Institutional Review Board, questionnaires
were posted online through Qualtrics. The
researchers sent out an email to the counseling
psychology department requesting
participation in the study. Instructors informed
their students of the opportunity. Participants
were rewarded research credit upon
completion of the surveys. Participants
completed the measures in counterbalanced
order through Qualtrics.
All scores on the measures were
significantly related to each other at the .05
level. Multicollinearity was assessed and was
not an issue as evidenced by Tolerance values
above .20 (M = .63) and VIF values well
below 10 and close to 1 (M = 1.58; Field,
2009). The mean for gratitude disposition was
37.11 (SD = 4.31), the mean for gratitude
affect was 12.49 (SD = 1.99), the mean for
positive affect was 34.82 (SD = 6.36), the
mean for negative affect was 24.15 (SD =
8.01), the mean for self-efficacy in positive
emotion expression was 4.27 (SD = .59), and
the mean for negative emotion regulation was
3.03 (SD = .77).
The researcher conducted a
multivariate regression analysis in R version
3.2.3 to evaluate how well dispositional and
affective gratitude predicted affect and
emotion regulation self-efficacy. All scores on
the subscales were standardized. Scores on the
positive emotion regulation subscale, negative
emotion regulation subscale, positive affect
subscale, and negative affect subscale served
as the criterion variables, and scores on the
gratitude disposition scale and gratitude affect
scale served as the predictor variables. The
MANOVA indicated the relationship between
the predictor variables and dispositional
gratitude was significant, F(4, 133) = 13.27, p
< .001, and between the predictor variables
and affective gratitude was significant, F(4,
133) = 7.98, p < .001. The significant
multivariate regression analysis was followed-
up with individual multiple regression
There was a significant positive
relationship between positive affect and
affective gratitude, b = .49, p < .001, such that
higher affective gratitude predicted higher
positive affect. The relationship between
positive affect and dispositional gratitude was
nonsignificant, p = .33. There was a
significant negative relationship between
negative affect and dispositional gratitude, b =
-.29, p = .006, such that higher dispositional
gratitude predicted lower negative affect.
There was a significant positive relationship
between positive emotion regulation self-
efficacy and dispositional gratitude, b = .22, p
= .024, and between affective gratitude, b =
.26, p = .01. In other words, higher
dispositional gratitude and affective gratitude
predicted positive emotion regulation self-
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The relationship between negative emotion
regulation self-efficacy and dispositional
gratitude was significant, b =.23, p = .0257,
and the relationship between negative emotion
regulation self-efficacy and affective gratitude
was nonsignificant, p = .22. In other words,
higher dispositional gratitude predicted
negative emotion regulation self-efficacy.
Discussion and Limitations
The results from this study partially
supported the hypothesis. The findings
indicated that dispositional and affective
gratitude had some predictive value for affect
and emotion regulation self-efficacy. In the
current sample, participants who had a more
grateful disposition were less likely to
experience negative affect. Further,
participants who had a more grateful
disposition and experienced more grateful
emotions felt as though they were better able
to express their positive emotions.
Additionally, participants who had a grateful
disposition believed they were better able to
regulate their negative emotions.
Gratitude interventions have yielded a
number of positive benefits including
increased well-being (Lyubomirsky,
Dickerhoof, Boehm, & Sheldon, 2011;
Toepfer, Chichy, & Peters, 2012; Watkins,
Uhder, & Pichinevskiy; 2015) and happiness
(Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005),
and decreased depression (Lambert,
Finchham, & Stillman, 2012; Seligman, et al.,
2005). Perhaps researchers are finding that
teaching people how to reflect upon their
grateful experiences is beneficial because it is
teaching participants ways in which to
cultivate positive emotions, which may in turn
decrease negative emotions (Seligman &
Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). In other words, it is
teaching people emotion regulation skills,
which entails individuals increasing positive
emotions and reducing the impact of negative
emotions (Linehan, 1993). If people feel as
though they have emotion regulation skills,
they will most likely also feel as though they
have the self-efficacy to engage in emotion
regulation. Future researchers should
determine if emotion regulation self-efficacy
is a potential mechanism by which gratitude
leads to positive outcomes. Further, because
the results from the current study support the
notion that gratitude predicts one’s ability to
express positive emotions, future researchers
should determine if implementing a gratitude
intervention actually increases individuals’
sense of self-efficacy for expressing their
positive emotions, as a gratitude intervention
would theoretically teach individuals how to
express gratitude (i.e., a positive emotion). In
fact, Watkins, Uhder, and Pichinevskiy (2015)
proposed that individuals who partake in
gratitude interventions may actually be trained
to process future experiences gratefully, which
may address their self-efficacy in expressing
positive emotions.
Although the study was novel such that
it investigated the relation between gratitude
and emotion regulation self-efficacy, it does
have a number of limitations. First, the sample
was quite homogenous, which impacts the
generalizability of the findings. Because the
researchers had substantially more females
than males in the study, males were excluded
from the analyses. Thus, the findings from the
present study only apply to females’ reported
gratitude, affect, and emotion regulation self-
efficacy. Unfortunately, as a result, the
researchers cannot draw conclusions about
males’ experiences or gender differences.
Further the sample consisted mostly of
undergraduate students who identified as
Caucasian, which again limits the
generalizability of these findings to other
Summer 2016
Volume 11, Issue 1
ethnic groups. The RESES has been validated
with various cultural groups (e.g., American,
Italian, German; Caprara et al., 2008), and
thus, future researchers may want to study
cross-cultural differences in emotion
regulation self-efficacy. Regardless, this study
contributes to psychologists’ knowledge of
emotion regulation self-efficacy in
undergraduate, Caucasian females, an area that
is lacking in research. Finally, the study was
cross-sectional in nature and therefore no
causal implications can be made. However, the
researchers hope that this study serves as a
catalyst for future experimental research in
which researchers investigate outcomes,
specifically emotion regulation self-efficacy,
of gratitude interventions over time.
In conclusion, the results from the
present study found that dispositional and
affective gratitude predict some positive
outcomes. In the current sample, more grateful
participants reported being able to express
their positive emotions, regulate negative
emotions, and experience less negative affect
compared to less grateful participants. The
results from this study are similar to what
other researchers have found regarding
gratitude such that it is inversely related to
negative affect (Emmons & McCullough,
2003). Further, this study examined the
relationship between gratitude and emotion
regulation self-efficacy such that gratitude
predicted emotion regulation self-efficacy.
Future researchers should try to create
interventions that cultivate gratitude to
determine if it leads to participants’ having an
increased sense of emotion regulation self-
efficacy. The findings from this study
contribute to the understanding of gratitude
and how it may impact individuals’ beliefs
about their efficacy in regulating and
expressing emotions. There is a dearth of
research regarding emotion regulation self-
efficacy, and thus it is hoped that this study
will stimulate research in how it may relate to
other positive psychological constructs (e.g.,
forgiveness, optimism). As psychologists gain
a better understanding of emotion regulation
self-efficacy, they may be able to develop
these beliefs through intervention, perhaps
through positive psychology interventions.
Therefore, more research needs to be
conducted in this area in order to determine if
certain interventions (e.g., gratitude) can cause
increases in emotion regulation self-efficacy.
Caprara, G. V., Di Giunta, L., Eisenberg, N.,
Gerbino, M., Pastorelli, C., &
Tramontano, C. (2008). Assessing
regulatory emotional self-efficacy in
three countries. Psychological
Assessment, 20, 227-241.
Carson, J., Muir, M., Clark, S., Wakely, E., &
Chander, A. (2012). Piloting a
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Digdon, N., & Koble, A. (2011). Effects of
constructive worry, imagery
distraction, and gratitude interventions
on sleep quality: A pilot trial. Applied
Psychology: Health and Well Being, 3,
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Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An
experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377-390.
Fredrickson, B. L., Mancuso, R. A., Branigan, C., & Tugade, M. M. (2000). The undoing effect of
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Lambert, N. M., Fincham, F. D., & Stillman, T. F. (2012). Gratitude and depressive symptoms:
The role of positive reframing and positive emotion. Cognition and Emotion, 26, 615–633.
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York, NY: Guilford Press.
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takes both a will and a proper way: Experimental longitudinal intervention to boost well-
being. Emotion, 11, 391-402.
McCullough, M. E., Emmons, R. A., & Tsang, J. A. (2002). The grateful disposition: A
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positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 54, 1063-1074.
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Goal Focused Positive Psychotherapy in a High School Dropout
Prevention Program
Michael J. Scheel, PhD, ABPP, is a professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University
of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and the Director of Training of the UNL counseling psychology program. He is
the associate editor of The Counseling Psychologist and an APA Fellow of Division 17. He was the 2014
recipient of the Shane Lopez Distinguished Contributions to Positive Psychology Award. His research
interests include the application of positive psychology in psychotherapy; promotion of hope in
psychotherapy; couple and family therapy; high school dropout prevention; and contextualized therapy
Collie W. Conoley is Director of the Carol Ackerman Positive Psychology Center at University of California,
Santa Barbara and a professor in Department of Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology at the
University of California, Santa Barbara. His research interests include positive psychology, process and
outcome research, multicultural psychology and family psychology. Collie received his doctorate from the
University of Texas at Austin.
Kendal Cassidy is a second-year counseling psychology doctoral student at the University of Nebraska-
Zoe Chen graduated with a master’s degree in community counseling from the University of Nebraska-
Lincoln and currently is a research assistant in the psychology department of Beijing Normal University.
Alexandra Dahl is a first-year counseling psychology doctoral student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Robert Byrom is a third-year counseling psychology doctoral student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Goal Focused Positive Psychotherapy
(GFPP) is a comprehensive, stand-alone
therapy approach based on major tenets of
positive psychology. Conoley and Scheel
(2015) have developed the GFPP
psychotherapy model with the flexibility to
be applied across a wide range of therapy
contexts and problems that include working
with adolescents in schools. The overall aims
of GFPP are to help people lead happier and
more fulfilling lives through increased well-
being. Heightened well-being equips
individuals to withstand life stressors,
persevere through the inevitable problems of
life, overcome psychological disorders, and
build on existing strengths and resources.
GFPP is presented here as integrated into the
Building Bridges high school dropout
prevention program for ninth grade students
identified as at-risk for school failure and
dropping out. Building Bridges uses the
GFPP counseling approach to work with
ninth graders who have had little success in
school, and lack academic engagement,
motivation, or self-efficacy. The GFPP
approach is different from previous school
efforts to motivate the students referred to
Building Bridges, because rather than
focusing on the problems of school failure,
inconsistent school attendance, and lack of
cooperation, emphasis is placed on
identifying strengths, creating positive
emotions and experiences, and forming
approach goals rather than avoidance goals.
The GFPP model offers a
psychological metaphor for human change in
contrast to a physical science metaphor
traditional to most psychotherapy treatment.
Consistent with the physical science
metaphor, psychotherapy has historically
been dependent on forming accurate
diagnoses as a basis of treatment. Taking an
example from the physical science world, if a
car engine stops running it is important to
understand the problem or cause. If the
problem were correctly diagnosed as a lack of
gasoline, the solution would of course be to fill
up the gas tank. With human beings it is not as
simple. An effective treatment is not clearly
evident when, for example, a student diagnosed
with ADHD is failing in school. In contrast to
the physical science change metaphor, a
psychological change can occur without
dependency on accurate diagnosis. GFPP and
the psychological metaphor for human change
are grounded in the premise that human beings
can overcome problems by learning to live
more meaningful lives; by gaining supportive
and caring relationships; by building self
efficacy; by focusing on desired goals; and by
frequently experiencing positive emotions. In
GFPP, psychotherapy is emphasized as a
process of helping people to attain these
conditions, thereby using psychological means
to withstand mental disorders and human
The change process of GFPP is
described through Fredrickson’s (1998; 2000)
Broaden and Build theory of positive emotions.
GFPP is geared toward the creation and
amplification of client positive emotions and
experiences. Research has demonstrated
support for Broaden and Build and the power
of positive emotions. Findings demonstrate that
individuals recover faster from stress-induced
situations measured by cardiovascular
responses when they are exposed to positively
affective stimuli (Fredrickson, Mancuso,
Branigan, & Tugade, 2000). The positive
feelings of curiosity, joy, gratitude, optimism,
support, and pride among others act to broaden
individuals to be creative, to be open to change,
and to engage in new ideas and new
perspectives. Over time through multiple
experiences with positive emotions, individuals
build resources to draw from when they
experience stressors and problems. The new
resources built through positive emotions
provide new pathways to goals, new or stronger
relationships, new coping strategies, and new!
Volume 11, Issue 1
Summer 2016
knowledge. Individuals during brief
experiences of positive emotions are apt to
problem solve, explore, experiment, play, and
be creative. Occurrences of positive emotions
over time create an upward spiral increasing
broad-minded coping and emotional well-
being (Fredrickson & Joiner, 2002).
Frequently occurring positive emotions has
been found to be more impactful than the
magnitude of a singular emotional experience
(Diener, Sandvik, & Pavot, 2009). In the
Building Bridges dropout prevention
program, counselors strive frequently and
persistently to find ways to trigger, foster, and
suggest experiences of positive emotions and
experiences with their clients.
The undoing hypothesis of Broaden
and Build suggests that problems, negative
emotions, or states can be undone through
broadening (Fredrickson, 2001). The client
that focuses on what he or she is grateful for
or likes or perceives as a strength can
indirectly undo negative feelings or states.
The high school students referred to Building
Bridges have seldom experienced positive
feelings toward school or reflected in
optimistic ways about their academic
experiences. To the contrary, most students
coming into Building Bridges have long
histories of failure in school reinforced often
by adults in the school and parents. The
emphasis of Building Bridges counselors in
their application of GFPP is to make a shift
away from past failures toward student
successes (even small ones), individual
strengths, and positive relationships. The
expected student response when focus is
shifted to the positives should be broadening
the student to new ways of approaching
school tasks, becoming more academically
motivated, and developing competence as a
Building Bridges (Byrom, Scheel, &
Wachira, 2015; Conoley & Scheel, 2014; !
Scheel, 2016) has been implemented at three
urban high schools in a large Midwestern
school district. Counselors are counseling
psychology graduate students trained in the
GFPP model. They promote the four
hallmarks of the GFPP approach: (a)
experiencing positive emotions; (b)
identifying personal strengths; (c) forming
approach goals; and (d) instilling hope. Next,
methods of promoting the four hallmarks in
work with the ninth grade Building Bridges
clients are described. After that, case
examples are used to demonstrate the
application of GFPP in the Building Bridges
Experiencing Positive Emotions
Activities used to promote positive
emotions include gratitude exercises
(Emmons & McCullough, 2003), planning
pleasurable times, savoring positive
experiences, capitalizing on successes
(Conoley, Vasquez, Bello, et al. 2015; Reis,
Smith, Carmichael, 2010), performing acts of
kindness (Otake et al., 2006), and practicing
self compassion (Neff, 2012). When Building
Bridges clients experience positive emotions
as a result of the planned activities or in
interactions with their counselor, counselors
work to capitalize on each experience by
celebrating it with the client, encouraging
clients to savor the positive feelings using
mindfulness techniques, and suggesting ways
clients can expand on positive experiences.
Identifying Personal Strengths
Each Building Bridges student
completes the VIA-IS (Park & Peterson,
2006) to identify the student’s top five
character strengths. The counselor encourages
them to apply their strengths at school on a
weekly basis. Successes in using strengths are
capitalized on in counseling sessions.
Counselors also listen intently for and !
Volume 11, Issue 1
Summer 2016
capitalize on embedded strengths within
client messages. The embedded strengths may
take the form of active coping; accomplishing
a worthy task; pointing out a healthy activity
that has given the client enjoyment and
meaning; referring to a good relationship or
positive feelings toward someone; pointing to
an ability of the client; or identifying desired
states or goals of the client.
Forming Approach Goals
Students are asked to form three
approach goals each semester. Initially, when
asked to identify goals, students typically
respond with avoidance goals such as “I don’t
want to fail my classes.” The counselor works
with the student using a technique called
positive empathy (Conoley & Conoley, 2009)
to identify the desired state that might be
embedded in the initial avoidance goal. An
approach goal is designed to facilitate growth
by increasing motivation, persistence,
optimism, and commitment to learn or do
new things (Elliot, Gable, & Mapes, 2006).
Research findings indicate that avoidance
goals, oriented toward evading aversive
outcomes, are associated with worse therapy
outcomes and decreased well-being (Elliot &
Church, 2002; Elliot & Sheldon, 1998). Thus
an avoidance goal of not failing might be
reframed as an approach goal of wanting to
be successful in classes. The counselor will
then expand on the approach goal by helping
the student to form approach pathways such
as “come to class feeling optimistic and
hopeful” or “be open to feedback and help
from the teacher so that improvements in
schoolwork can be realized.”
Instilling Hope
Counselors must realize that, as Frank
and Frank (1991) noted, clients come to
counseling feeling demoralized. Building
Bridges clients are extremely demoralized as
students, having little hope of success. They
need to experience a process of
remoralization (i.e., instillation of hope)
toward their future and school. As Snyder
(2002) points out, hope is instilled through
the formation of goals accompanied by
pathway and agency thinking. The Best
Possible Self activity (Blackwell,
Trzesniewski, & Dweck, 2007) is used to help
students visualize a positive and successful
future. Counselors authentically convey hope
for their clients, no matter how dire the
student’s situation is at school or home.
Scaling questions are used to help the client
realize small gains. The counselor in a
genuine and hopeful way uses encouragement
as a technique to model hopefulness.
Case Examples
Two case examples demonstrate
GFPP in Building Bridges. The adolescent
clients were seen individually on a weekly
basis throughout one academic school year.
Problem descriptions, approach goals formed,
identified strengths, positive emotions, and
outcomes are delineated. Identifying
characteristics of each client have been
altered to protect anonymity.
Case 1. The client initially had
concerns about feeling lonely with few
friends, being bullied at school, having low
grades, and familial stress due to an episode
of childhood sexual abuse. Approach goals
were formulated of being more social,
speaking up in class more often, and getting
better grades. Counselor and client processed
feelings related to the client’s family. The
counselor pointed out resiliency and that the
client was a caring and loving person as client
strengths. They discussed ways the client can
be kind to herself and practice self-
Volume 11, Issue 1
Summer 2016
Case 2. The client started counseling
reporting a “messed up life” as a result of
several adults the client strongly mistrusted.
Often the client would act out in school
embellishing situations to gain reactions from
adults. The counselor identified client
strengths of valuing friendship, being creative
and humorous, and resiliency. The counselor
also capitalized on a song written by the
client, celebrating it and using it as a
metaphor for how the client can positively
interact in the world. Trusting the counselor
was also identified as a strength. Approach
goals included feeling loved and cared for and
feeling more purposeful in how the client
expressed her needs to others. An intervention
included a counseling session with the client
and her mother to encourage positive
communication, and capitalize on the positive
feelings the client and mother felt toward
each other. The client ended the school year
more directly communicating personal needs
and feeling more in control of how she
expressed her feelings toward peers and
teachers. The client also achieved more
consistency at school, attributing this change
to heightened self-awareness.
GFPP was implemented through the
Building Bridges program. Positive emotions,
approach goals, identifying of strengths, and
instilling hope were consistently included in
the therapeutic approach drawing emphases
away from problems and shortcomings and to
strengths and positive experiences. Undoing
of problems was evident as broadening
occurred through generalization of positive
changes realized in therapy.
Blackwell, L. S., Trzesniewski, K. H., &
Dweck, C. S. (2007). Implicit theories
of intelligence predict achievement
across an adolescent transition: A
longitudinal study and an intervention.
Child Development, 78(1).
Byrom, R. A. Jr., Scheel, M. J., & Wachira,
A. (2015, August). Building Bridges:
A goal-oriented, strength-based
dropout prevention program.
Symposium presentation at the
123rd annual American Psychological
Association convention, Toronto,
Conoley, C. W., & Conoley, J. C. (2009).
Positive psychology and family
therapy: Creative techniques and
practical tools for guiding changing
and enhancing growth. Hoboken, NJ:
John Wiley and Sons Inc.
Conoley, C. W., Pontrelli, M. E., Oromendia,
M. F., Bello, B. D. C., & Nagata, C.
M. (2015). Positive empathy: A
therapeutic skill inspired by positive
psychology. Journal of Clinical
Psychology, 1-9.
Conoley, C. W., & Scheel, M. J. (2014,
March). Two strength based
community programs developed
through counseling psychology. Paper
presented at the International
Counseling Psychology Conference,
Atlanta, GA.
Conoley, C. W., Vasquez, E., Bello, B. D. C.,
Oromendia, M. F., & Jeske, D. R.
(2015). Celebrating the
accomplishments of others: Mutual
benefits of capitalization. The
Counseling Psychologist, 43(5), 734-
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Diener, E., Sandvik, E., & Pavot, W. (2009).
Happiness is the frequency, not the
intensity of positive versus negative
affect. In E. Diener’s (Ed.) Assessing
Well-Being: The Collected Works of
Ed Diener (pp. 213-231). New York,
NY: Springer.
Elliot, A. J., Gable, S. L., & Mapes, R. R.
(2006). Approach and avoidance
motivation in the social domain.
Personality and Social Psychology
Bulletin, 32(3), 378-391.
Elliot, A. J., & Sheldon, K. (1998).
Avoidance personal goals and the
personality-illness relationship.
Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 75, 1282-12-1299.
Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E.
(2003). Counting blessings versus
burdens. An experimental
investigation of gratitude and
subjective well-being in daily life.
Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 84(2).
Frank, J. D., & Frank, J. B. (1991).
Persuasion and healing: A
comparative study of psychotherapy
(3rd ed.). Baltimore, MD: Johns
Hopkins University Press.
Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). What good are
positive emotions? Review of General
Psychology, 2, 300-319.
Fredrickson, B. L., Mancuso, R. A.,
Branigan, C., & Tugade, M. M.
(2000). The undoing effect of
positive emotions. Motivation and
Emotion, 24(4), 237-258.
Neff, K. D. (2012). The science of self-
compassion. In C. Germer & R. Siegel
(Eds.), Compassion and wisdom in
psychotherapy (pp. 79-92). New York:
Guilford Press.
Otake, K., Shimai, S., Tanaka-Matsumi, J.,
Otsui, K., & Fredrickson, B. L.
(2006). Happy people become happier
through kindness: A counting
kindness intervention. Journal of
Happiness Studies, 7(3), 361-375.
Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006). Moral
competence and character strengths
among adolescents: The development
and validation of the Values in Action
Inventory of Strengths for Youth.
Journal of Adolescence, 29(6).
Scheel, M. J. (2016). Building Bridges: A
High School Dropout Prevention
Program. Manual developed at the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Snyder, C. R. (2002). Hope theory: Rainbows
in the mind. Psychological Inquiry, 4,
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Positive Psychology and Trauma: Understanding and Enhancing
Posttraumatic Growth
Lara Barbir is a doctoral candidate in counseling psychology at
Radford University in Virginia. She obtained her master's degree
in rehabilitation counseling from Virginia Commonwealth
University and her bachelor's degree in psychology and
sociology from the University of Virginia. Her research interests
in positive psychology include posttraumatic growth in veteran
populations, mindfulness, and acceptance and commitment
The literature regarding responses to traumatic events has largely examined the negative
psychological consequences—namely, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, focusing
only on the negative sequelae of trauma and adversity can lead to a biased understanding of
posttraumatic reactions (Linley & Joseph, 2004). The term posttraumatic growth (PTG), which
refers to “the experience of positive psychological change experienced as a result of the struggle
with highly challenging life circumstances” (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004, p. 1), is a positive
psychology construct that may facilitate a more holistic understanding of individuals’ responses
to traumatic experiences. In fact, while PTSD has a lifetime prevalence of 3.5% (APA, 2013), as
many as 70% of individuals who experience trauma also report positive change and growth
coming out of the traumatic experience (Joseph & Butler, 2010), emphasizing a need to better
understand PTG and how it can be enhanced through therapeutic interventions. Thus, the
purpose of this article is to (a) provide an understanding of how posttraumatic growth has been
conceptualized and (b) review guidelines for enhancing posttraumatic growth in the therapeutic
The Recent Scientific Emergence of Posttraumatic Growth
The idea that positive personal changes can develop out of suffering has existed
throughout human history and has even been inadvertently discussed by psychologists in the 20th
century (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004); however, it is only within the last 25 years that the
empirical literature in psychology has focused on the possibility of growth from the struggle with
trauma. Research has found, for instance, that PTG has been reported by survivors of serious
medical illnesses (e.g., cancer, bone marrow transplantation, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis,
rheumatoid arthritis, heart attack, chemical dependency), acquired brain injury, spinal cord
injury, rape, assault, intimate partner violence, childhood sexual abuse, natural disasters, war,
terrorism, car accidents, and in bereaved individuals, college students, former refugees,
amputees, caregivers of ill persons, and combat veterans (Calhoun & Tedeschi, 1999; Lechner,
Tennen, & Affleck, 2009; Linley & Joseph, 2004; Tsai et al., 2015). PTG has been
operationalized by five major domains of positive change that manifest in the trauma-exposed
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individual: (a) improved interpersonal
relationships, (b) openness to new
possibilities, (c) a greater appreciation of life,
(d) an increased sense of personal strength,
and (e) spiritual development (Tedeschi &
Calhoun, 1995). PTG has numerous benefits,
some of which include lower levels of PTSD
and higher levels of emotional maturity
(Aldwin & Levenson, 2004), reduction in
suicidal ideation (Bush, Skopp, McCann, &
Luxton, 2011), as well as a preparedness or
resilience for future events that may
otherwise be traumatic (Calhoun & Tedeschi,
2006; Meichenbaum, 2006). The protective
component of PTG highlights a need to better
understand this complex construct and how it
can be facilitated among trauma survivors.
Conceptualization of Posttraumatic
Janoff-Bulman (2006) developed a
model to better understand the process of
PTG, which depicts three different processes
and perspectives on trauma survivors’
positive changes: (a) strength through
suffering, (b) existential reevaluation, and (c)
psychological preparedness. The first process,
strength through suffering, suggests that it is
deemed a prerequisite for a trauma survivor
to first experience distress in the aftermath of
trauma—described by Janoff-Bulman (2006)
as a shattering of one’s pre-trauma
assumptive world or core belief system—in
order to thereby experience growth. This
process of reconstructing one’s shattered
beliefs serves as a foundation for recognizing
personal strengths and new possibilities. In
fact, several studies have supported this
theory in demonstrating that individuals who
experienced more core belief disruption
experienced greater PTG (Cann et al., 2010;
Roepke & Seligman, 2015). When coupled
with survivors’ reconstructed assumptive
world, their greater appreciation for and
recognition of the value of life becomes a
foundation for committed action and thus leads
to an increased appreciation of life, improved
interpersonal relationships, and spiritual
growth—this comprises the existential
reevaluation process (Janoff-Bulman, 2006).
As a result of survivors’ reconstructed
fundamental assumptions is a state of
psychological preparedness, characterized by a
reduced risk of psychological breakdown,
degeneration, and shock in the face of any
future adversity (Janoff-Bulman, 2006). This
is a different form of PTG such that, instead of
being reflected in positive changes reported by
survivors, it is more akin to a psychological
state in which survivors have built an immunity
and resiliency against future traumatization.
This form of PTG has been supported by
various researchers who have found that PTG
provides protective elements in the face of
future adverse circumstances (Calhoun &
Tedeschi, 2006; Moran, Burker, & Schmidt,
2013; Meichenbaum, 2006; Tedeschi &
Calhoun, 2004).
Guidelines for Enhancing Posttraumatic
Berger (2015) suggested that the
process of facilitating PTG in trauma survivors
involves several steps, emphasizing that
“throughout the process, it is important to
emphasize that growth is a result of the way in
which one chooses to respond to the traumatic
event rather than the event itself” (p. 152). He
stated that it is important for clinicians not to
expect that every trauma-exposed client is
going to experience growth and that some may
only experience growth in some domains but
not in others. Berger also added that as part of
the process, the clinician teaches the client
breathing exercises, imagery that is controlled
by the client instead of being guided by the
practitioner, and strategies for managing
external distractions. As a first step, the
clinician must help identify clues for
impending floods of uncontrollable sensations.!
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Second, the clinician should provide
psychoeducation to the client regarding normal
trauma reactions, effective ways to shift from
intrusive to deliberate rumination, and skills
for emotion regulation. Third, clinicians
should help clients explore the following: (a)
which parts of clients’ fundamental
assumptions (i.e., core beliefs) should be
modified given their traumatic experience(s),
(b) how to replace these no-longer-helpful
assumptions in such a way that they are living
life in a meaningful way, and (c) how to make
necessary behavioral changes.
Moran, Burker, and Schmidt (2012)
indicated that no specific therapies have been
developed which focus exclusively on
enhancing PTG. However, they emphasized
three key elements that are necessary in the
facilitation of PTG: (a) development of
positive coping and rumination styles, (b)
schema and narrative change, and (c) social
support and the therapeutic alliance. Positive
reappraisal, acceptance coping, and religious
coping, for instance, have been cited as the
most effective coping mechanisms for
facilitating PTG (Prati & Pietrantoni, 2009).
Furthermore, the coping mechanisms
employed by the trauma survivor has a more
profound effect on the development of PTG
than social support and pre-existing
personality variables (Prati & Pietrantoni,
2009). Mindfulness has been linked to PTG
(Chopko & Shwartz, 2009; Garland et al.,
2007; Hanley, Peterson, Canto, & Garland,
2015; Mackenzie et al., 2007). Mindfulness
practices can help clients develop a better
understanding of their current coping and
rumination styles (Dimidjian, Martell, Addis,
& Herman-Dunn, 2008) and thus may be a
helpful starting point for clinicians working
with trauma survivors who would benefit from
more adaptive rumination and coping styles.
Once clinicians have helped trauma-exposed
clients in developing positive coping
strategies, they can begin to help clients!
modify their shattered assumptive world
described earlier in reviewing Janoff-
Bulman’s (2006) conceptualization of PTG.
Moran, Burker, and Schmidt (2012) outlined a
number of clinical methods that can facilitate
the schema and narrative change element.
These include therapeutic journaling of
painful episodes, verbalizing one’s narrative
in group and individual therapy, and narrating
the trauma from the third person. Tedeschi
and McNally (2011) further emphasized the
importance of helping clients create a trauma
narrative within PTG domains such that they
are able to see the trauma as a catalyst or
turning point that ultimately enhanced their
personal strength, interpersonal connections,
appreciation for life, spirituality, and openness
to new possibilities in life (i.e., the five facets
of PTG).
The process of rebuilding the life
narrative involves a great amount of
disclosure about the trauma and new core
beliefs, which underlines the importance of
social support and a strong therapeutic
alliance on the receiving end of the disclosure
(Moran, Burker, & Schmidt, 2012). Tedeschi
and Calhoun (1995) highlighted the positive
effects social support can have on facilitating
survivors’ successful coping and change in the
initial stages toward enhancing PTG. Thus,
they suggested incorporating close family and
friends into therapy, particularly during the
narrative reconstruction process in which
survivors can practice verbalizing their
narratives. Finally, they indicated the
importance of incorporating other supports in
therapy, particularly by including trauma
survivors who have successfully recovered to
facilitate normalization of their emotional
experiences and provide exemplars for
successful coping and overall positive
expectancy of reaching PTG (Tedeschi &
Calhoun, 1995). In general, the gold standard
treatments for PTSD involve detailed,
repeated exposure to traumatic material and
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the modification of maladaptive beliefs about
events, behaviors, or symptoms (Sharpless &
Barber, 2011). As previously described,
enhancement of PTG involves modifying
existing fundamental assumptions as well as
developing positive coping strategies (Berger,
2015; Prati & Pietrantoni, 2009). Detailed,
repeated exposure aligns with the
confrontational nature of reconstruction of
core beliefs, and the modification of
maladaptive beliefs fits well with this as well
as the development of positive coping
strategies, indicating that PTG is likely already
facilitated in the currently accepted therapies
for PTSD. However, while cognitive
behavioral interventions such as exposure and
cognitive processing therapies are empirically
validated treatments for PTSD, they are merely
aimed to promote recovery and thus return
trauma-exposed clients to their pre-trauma
baseline (Lyons, 2008). Additionally, it has
been estimated that between a third and a half
of patients receiving empirically supported
treatments for PTSD do not fully respond to
treatment, at least on some measures
(Schottenbauer et al., 2008); similarly, the
average drop-out rate in trials of exposure-
based and cognitive interventions for PTSD is
in the 20% to 25% range (Hembree et al.,
2003). Taken together, this suggests that these
existing treatment approaches may not meet
the needs of every individual with PTSD who
seeks services. Therefore, additional strategies
may be warranted to expand treatment
opportunities and, especially, maximize
growth which would aid trauma survivors in
exceeding their pre-trauma baseline. Although
guidelines for enhancing PTG in trauma
survivors have been provided (e.g., Berger,
2015; Moran, Burker, & Schmidt, 2012;
Tedeschi & McNally, 2011), empirical studies
of PTG interventions are lacking, indicating an
important direction of further research in this
area. !
Aldwin, C. M., & Levenson, M. R. (2004).
Posttraumatic growth: A developmental
perspective. Psychological
Inquiry, 15(1), 19-22. doi:
American Psychiatric Association. (2013).
Diagnostic and statistical manual of
mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington,
VA: American Psychiatric Association.
Berger, R. (2015). Stress, trauma, and
posttraumatic growth: Social context,
environment, and identities. New York,
NY: Routledge.
Bush, N. E., Skopp, N. A., McCann, R., &
Luxton, D. D. (2011). Posttraumatic
growth as protection against suicidal
ideation after deployment and combat
exposure. Military Medicine, 176(11),
1215-1222. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-
Calhoun, L. G. & Tedeschi, R.G.
(2006). Handbook of posttraumatic
growth: Research and practice. New
York, NY: Erlbaum.
Calhoun, L. G., & Tedeschi, R. G. (Eds.).
(1999). Facilitating posttraumatic
growth: A clinician's guide. New York,
NY: Routledge.
Cann, A., Calhoun, L. G., Tedeschi, R. L., &
Solomon, D. T. (2010). Posttraumatic
growth and depreciation as independent
experiences and predictors of well-
being. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 15,
151–166. doi:
Chopko, B. A., & Schwartz, R. C. (2009). The
relation between mindfulness and
posttraumatic growth: A study of first
responders to trauma-inducing
incidents. Journal of Mental Health
Counseling, 31, 363–376.
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Dimidjian, S., Martell, C. R., Addis, M. E., &
Herman-Dunn, R. (2008). Behavioral
activation for depression. In D. H.
Barlow (Ed.), Clinical handbook of
psychological disorders (4th ed., pp.
328-364). New York, NY: The
Guilford Press.
Garland, S. E., Carlson, L. E., Cook, S.,
Lansdell, L., & Speca, M. (2007). A
non-randomized comparison of
mindfulness-based stress reduction and
healing arts program for facilitating
posttraumatic growth and spirituality in
cancer outpatients. Supportive Care in
Cancer, 15, 949-961. doi:
Hanley, A. W., Peterson, G. W., Canto, A. I.,
& Garland, E. L. (2015). The
relationship between mindfulness and
posttraumatic growth with respect to
contemplative practice
engagement. Mindfulness, 6(3), 654-
662. doi:!10.1007/s12671-014-0302-6
Hembree, E. A., Foa, E. B., Dorfan, N. M.,
Street, G. P., Kowalski, J., & Tu, X.
(2003). Do patients drop out
prematurely from exposure therapy for
PTSD?. Journal of Traumatic
Stress, 16(6), 555-562. doi:
Janoff-Bulman, R. (2006). Schema-change
perspectives on posttraumatic growth.
In L. G. Calhoun & R. G. Tedeschi
(Eds.), Handbook of posttraumatic
growth: Research and practice (pp.
81–99). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates.
Joseph, S., & Butler, L. D. (2010). Positive
changes following adversity. Research
Quarterly, 21(3), 1-3.
Lechner, S. C., Tennen, H., & Affleck, G.
(2009). Benefit-finding and growth. In
S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.),
Oxford handbook of positive
psychology (2nd ed., pp. 633-640).
New York, NY: Oxford University
Linley, P. A., & Joseph, S. (2004). Positive
change following trauma and adversity:
A review. Journal of Traumatic Stress,
17(1), 11-21.
Lyons, J. A. (2008). Using a life span model
to promote recovery and growth in
traumatized veterans. In S. Joseph & P.
A. Linley (Eds.), Trauma, recovery,
and growth: Positive psychological
perspectives on posttraumatic stress
(pp. 233-257). Hoboken, NJ: John
Wiley & Sons.
Mackenzie, M. J., Carlson, L. E., Munoz, M.,
& Speca, M. (2007). A qualitative
study of self-perceived effects of
mindfulness-based stress reduction
(MBSR) in a psychosocial oncology
setting. Stress and Health: Journal of
the International Society for the
Investigation of Stress, 23(1), 59-69.
doi: 10.1002/smi.1120
Meichenbaum, D. (2006). Resilience and
posttraumatic growth: A constructive
narrative perspective. In L. G. Calhoun
& R. G. Tedeschi (Eds.), Handbook of
posttraumatic growth (pp. 355-368).
New York, NY: Lawrence Erlbaum
Moran, S., Burker, E., & Schmidt, J. (2012).
Posttraumatic growth: Helping clients
overcome trauma. Journal of Applied
Rehabilitation Counseling, 43(4), 12-
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Moran, S., Burker, E. J., & Schmidt, J. (2013). Posttraumatic growth and posttraumatic stress
disorder in veterans. Journal of Rehabilitation, 79(2), 34-43.
Prati, G, & Pietrantoni, L. (2009). Optimism, social support, and coping strategies as factors
contributing to posttraumatic growth: A meta-analysis. Journal of Loss and Trauma,14,
364-388. doi: 10.1080/15325020902724271
Roepke, A. M., & Seligman, M. E. (2015). Doors opening: A mechanism for growth after
adversity. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(2), 107-115. doi:
Schottenbauer, M. A., Glass, C. R., Arnkoff, D. B., Tendick, V., & Gray, S. H. (2008).
Nonresponse and dropout rates in outcome studies on PTSD: Review and methodological
considerations. Psychiatry, 71(2), 134-168. doi: 10.1521/psyc.2008.71.2.134
Sharpless, B. A., & Barber, J. P. (2011). A clinician’s guide to PTSD treatments for returning
veterans. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 42(1), 8-15. doi:
Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (1995). Trauma and transformation: Growing in the
aftermath of suffering. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (2004). Posttraumatic growth: Conceptual foundations and
empirical evidence. Psychological Inquiry, 15, 1-18. doi: 10.1207/s15327965pli1501_01
Tedeschi, R. G., & McNally, R. J. (2011). Can we facilitate posttraumatic growth in combat
veterans? American Psychologist, 66, 19-24. doi: 10.1037/a0021896
Tsai, J., El-Gabalawy, R., Sledge, W. H., Southwick, S. M., & Pietrzak, R. H. (2015). Post-
traumatic growth among veterans in the USA: Results from the National Health and
Resilience in Veterans Study. Psychological Medicine, 45(1), 165-179. doi:
Summer 2016
Volume 11, Issue 1
A Situated Approach to Chinese Well-being: Research and
Shu-Yi Wang is a fourth-year doctoral student in counseling psychology
at Indiana University Bloomington. His research interests are in the
areas of positive psychology, social psychology of culture, and the
psychology of men and masculinity.
Summer 2016
One common goal that psychotherapists strive for is to
make clients feel better. However, what is often overlooked is
the fact that “feeling good,” or in a more academic term,
subjective well-being (SWB), could mean very different things
to different people. Because an agreed upon goal between the
therapist and the client is considered one of the dimensions in a
solid working alliance (Bordin, 1979), ascertaining the client’s
unique construal of well-being and purposefully selecting a
corresponding intervention are critical for the treatment to be
effective. In this article, I call for a situated approach to the
research of well-being, particularly focusing on the diverse
conceptions of well-being salient in Chinese culture. Practical
implications will also be discussed.
Although a number of definitions of SWB have been
proposed, a widely accepted operationalization of SWB includes
both cognitive and affective aspects. The cognitive component
involves a general evaluation of the degree to which an
individual is satisfied with his or her life as a whole. The
affective component refers to the frequency of positive versus
negative feelings that an individual experiences over a period of
time (Diener, 1984). Although this definition of SWB intends to
be value neutral, researchers have raised criticisms on the basis
that it reflects Western individualistic ideology and neglects
cultural forces in molding meanings of and ways to achieve
SWB (Christopher, 1999; Lu & Gilmour, 2006). Cross-cultural
psychologists, therefore, advocate that while SWB is an
experientially desirable state, it is a diverse construct with
different cultures prescribing distinct elements that constitute
well-being (Elliot et al., 2012; Lu & Gilmour, 2006; Uchida &
Kitayama, 2009). Simply put, well-being is defined and
experienced distinctly in different cultural contexts because it is
intertwined with the states or values that a particular culture
endorses. For example, if autonomy is considered important in a
Volume 11, Issue 1
culture, people with perceived freedom in
making life choices are likely to report high
levels of SWB. Furthermore, studies have
shown that Chinese people tend to appreciate
low-arousal positive emotions more than their
American counterparts, presumably due to the
Chinese belief in harmony and
interdependence (Lee, Lin, Huang, &
Fredrickson, 2013; Tsai, Knutson, & Fung,
Against this backdrop, scholars have
devoted considerable attention to cultural
differences in SWB, usually comparing people
from the United Stated and East Asian
countries with an emphasis on the ways in
which self-construal may shape SWB. This
line of research generally suggested that
because of the Confucian heritage, members of
East Asia are inclined to think of themselves as
interdependent with close others, and thus their
experiences of SWB are more socially-oriented
as opposed to an individualistic SWB often
found in Western cultural contexts (Heine,
2001; Lu & Gilmour, 2006). However,
Confucianism is not the only philosophy that
permeates Chinese people’s mind. Of equal
importance is the teaching from two other far-
reaching philosophical traditions: Taoism and
Buddhism (Huang, 2009). Therefore, to
accurately capture Chinese well-being, one
needs to take into consideration the impact of
Taoism and Buddhism.
A Situated Approach to Study Chinese
Recently, my colleagues and I conducted a
study investigating the well-being constructs
forwarded by these three philosophical
traditions and provided evidence that each
notion of well-being contributed uniquely to
different dimensions of mental health (Wang,
Wong, & Yeh, 2016). Specifically, for
Confucianism, interpersonal harmony, the
ability to maintain harmony in close
relationships, is believed to be the key to
happiness due to the Confucian emphasis on
human relationships and interpersonal virtues.
With regard to Taoism, dialectical thinking is
at the core of its teaching. Peng and Nisbett
(1999) summarized three principles of
dialectical thinking: contradiction, change,
and holism. We argued that the application of
these principles to cope with adversities in life
(i.e., “dialectical coping”) represents a Taoist
well-being construct. That is, dialectical
thinkers see setbacks as temporary (change),
as an opportunity to grow (contradiction), and
as an inherent part of life (holism). Lastly,
Buddhist ideas caution against fixation on any
particular states of mind or objects,
contending that happiness resides in the state
of nonattachment, a balanced mentality that is
not affected by either external or internal
The results showed that the three
constructs indeed predicted different aspects
of mental health. First, relationship harmony
(Confucian conception of well-being) was
negatively related to psychological distress
and positively associated with meaning in life
and happiness. Second, dialectical coping (a
Taoist well-being construct) significantly
predicted higher levels of positive affect and
meaning in life, whereas nonattachment (a
Buddhist vision of well-being) was the only
and strongest protective factor against
negative affect and psychological distress
among the three constructs. Overall,
nonattachment demonstrated the most
adaptive effects on mental health variables
included in our study. Interestingly, we also
discovered that these well-being constructs
could interact with one another. To be more
precise, moderation effects were observed
between dialectical coping and nonattachment
on self-esteem, psychological distress, and
happiness. A profile of high levels of
dialectical coping and nonattachment was
conducive to self-esteem.
Summer 2016
Volume 11, Issue 1
However, the same combination turned
out to be linked to higher psychological
distress and lower happiness. These
interaction effects suggest that more is not
necessarily better. By situating well-being in
indigenous philosophical traditions, we were
able to depict a comprehensive picture of
Chinese well-being and further shed light on
the unique and collective influences of these
constructs on mental health outcomes.
Practical Implications
Some important practical implications
can be gleaned for clinicians working with
Chinese people. First, the contributions of
nonattachment to psychological adjustment
indicate that more attention needs to be given
to interventions that may cultivate clients’
nonattachment. For instance, psychotherapies
that incorporate Eastern mindfulness
principles, such as acceptance and commitment
therapy (ACT; Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson,
1999) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
(MBCT; Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 2002),
are especially suitable to clients who endorse
nonattachment as a worldview. Second,
clinicians are encouraged to explore with
clients how they construe well-being because
such lay beliefs may vary greatly from one
culture to another. For example, an
intervention that solely aims to increase
positive emotions may be incompatible with
clients who subscribe to Buddhist teachings.
Last but not least, psychotherapists have to
keep in mind that relationships among CIWB
constructs are intricate. Given the findings of
our interaction effects, there is a possibility
that well-being constructs may collide with one
another and undermine clients’ well-being. In
sum, clinicians need to apply their
multicultural competence when working with
clients from diverse backgrounds because
well-being does not exist in a vacuum. Rather,
it is closely tied to the culture or philosophy
clients identify with.
Bordin, E. S. (1979). The generalizability of
the psychoanalytic concept of the
working alliance. Psychotherapy:
Theory, Research, & Practice, 16,
Christopher, J. C. (1999). Situating
psychological well-being: Exploring
the cultural roots of its theory and
research. Journal of Counseling and
Development, 77, 141-152.
Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being.
Psychological Bulletin, 95, 542-575.
Elliot, A. J., Sedikides, C., Murayama, K.,
Tanaka, A., Thrash, T. M., & Mapes,
R. R. (2012). Cross-cultural generality
and specificity in self-regulation:
Avoidance personal goals and multiple
aspects of well-being in the United
States and Japan. Emotion, 12, 1031-
Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K. D., & Wilson, K. G.
(1999). Acceptance and commitment
therapy: An experiential approach to
behavior change. New York, NY:
Guilford Press.
Heine, S. J. (2001). Self as cultural product:
An examination of East Asian and
North American selves. Journal of
Personality, 69, 881-905.
Hwang, K.-K. (2009). The development of
indigenous counseling in
contemporary Confucian communities.
The Counseling Psychologist, 37, 930-
Lee, Y. C., Lin, Y. C., Huang, C. L., &
Fredrickson, B. L. (2013). The
construct and measurement of peace of
mind. Journal of Happiness Studies,
14, 571-590.
Summer 2016
Volume 11, Issue 1
Lu, L., & Gilmour, R. (2006). Individual-oriented and socially oriented cultural conceptions of
subjective well-being: Conceptual analysis and scale development. Asian Journal of
Social Psychology, 9, 36-49.
Peng, K., & Nisbett, R. E. (1999). Culture, dialectics, and reasoning about contradiction.
American Psychologist, 54, 741-754.
Segal, Z., Williams, M., & Teasdale, J. (2002). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for
depression: A new approach to preventing relapse. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Tsai, J. L., Knutson, B., & Fung, H. H. (2006). Cultural variation in affect valuation. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 288-307.
Uchida, Y., & Kitayama, S. (2009). Happiness and unhappiness in East and West: Themes and
variations. Emotion, 9, 441-456.
Wang, S.-Y., Wong, Y. J., & Yeh, K.-H. (2016). Relationship harmony, dialectical coping, and
nonattachment: Chinese indigenous well-being and mental health. The Counseling
Psychologist, 44, 78-108.
Summer 2016
Volume 11, Issue 1
Adam Fishel, M.S. is a doctoral candidate at the University of Memphis. He
is interested in gratitude, amplifying strengths, the intersection of health and
positive psychology, optimism and interventions that promote positive health
Division 17 Section on Positive Psychology: A Student
Representative’s View
My name is Adam Fishel and for the past two years I have been fortunate enough to
serve as the Student Representative for the Section on Positive Psychology. Since the inception
of the Student Campus Representative program, many brilliant students have joined, serving as
liaisons for the Section on Positive Psychology at their respective universities. Campus
representatives have been a vital part of our growing section and have shown what it truly means
to be inspired and involved in the field of positive psychology. Many of these campus
representatives have indicated that the opportunity has not only allowed them to present and
share information with many new people, but also provide them with new ideas and
opportunities within the field itself.
Campus representatives have gone above and beyond in spreading information about the
section as well as the larger field of positive psychology. They have given lectures, held groups,
handed out flyers, worked with respective campuses’ societies and shared information with
many new people along the way. The representatives have indicated that they have really
enjoyed the flexibility and creativity in their position. One of the benefits of becoming a campus
representative is that you really can choose in how you connect and share your message about
the section and the field.
One of the newer aspects that many campus representatives have enjoyed is the creation
of individualized lectures on a positive psychology topic that is made available for all campus
representatives to use. In this way, representatives’ individual interests and research is made
accessible to the group as a whole and can be presented to interested parties around the country.
I believe this kind of sharing and open collaboration is a valuable and positive step in moving
the field forward.
It truly has been a pleasure being a part of a group of such encouraging, brilliant and fun
people. Yet, perhaps the most satisfying aspect of serving as Student Representative is my own
increased knowledgebase of positive psychology and an inclination to practice more of the
techniques I’ve learned throughout the journey. I would encourage anyone looking to learn more
about the field or anyone that simply enjoys sharing their interest in positive psychology to take
the next step and apply to be a campus representative today!
Summer 2016
Volume 11, Issue 1
Summer 2016
Meet the Executive Board
Chair: Rhea Owens, Ph.D. (University of British Columbia; 2017)
Chair-Elect & Webmaster: Brian Cole, Ph.D. (University of Kansas; 2017)
Past Chair: Danny Singley, Ph.D. (The Center for Men’s Excellence; 2017)
Communications Officer: TBD
Treasurer: Ingrid Weigold, Ph.D. (University of Akron; 2018)
Research Representative: Blake Allan, Ph.D. (Purdue University; 2017)
Teaching Representative: Patricia Cabrera (The University at Albany, State University of New York; 2017)
Practice Representative: Deborah Pardue (Indiana University, Bloomington; 2018)
Student Representative: Julia Cawthra (Indiana University, Bloomington; 2018) and Sarah Milam (West
Virginia University; 2018)
*Year represents when their term ends
Call for Communications Officer Position
is still looking for applicants for our Communications Officer position.
We are working on moving our newsletter towards a more formal publication outlet and the person in this
role would be a large contributor to that goal. This is a two-year position, and journal reviewer experience
would be helpful. Please see the position responsibilities below.
Communications Officer (Open to Full members of APA)
The Communications Officer shall keep the records of the Section (including but not limited to minutes of
meetings of the Section and the Executive Committee), conduct the official correspondence of the Section,
and keep membership informed about the activities of the Section through coordinating, putting together,
and distributing the Section newsletter. The Communications Officer will also maintain an updated
membership roster of the Section. In addition to the specific duties outlined above, all individuals holding
leadership positions in the Section participate in quarterly conference calls and ideally attend the business
meeting at the annual APA convention.
If you would like to apply, please email your CV along with a 500 word statement of interest by September
9th to Rhea Owens (
Volume 11, Issue 1
Summer 2016
Meet the Student Campus Representatives
Bobby Byrom
University of Nebraska Lincoln
Rebecca Kinsey
Ball State University
Todd Ryser-Oatman
University of Kentucky
Shu-Yi Wang
Indiana University Bloomington
Shao Li
Indiana University Bloomington
Elizabeth Louis
University of Georgia
Lara Barbir
Radford University
Beatriz Bello
UC Santa Barbara
Taylor Damiani
UC Santa Barbara
Colton Brown
Oklahoma State University
Jordie Poncy
University of Houston
Paige Naylor
University of South Alabama
Pauline Venieris
Arizona State University
Dylan Corp
University at Albany
Jess Farrar
University of Oregon
Ian LeSueur
Seton Hall University
Claudine Anderson
Georgia State University
Mandila Das
Texas Tech University
Alireza Memarian
All Universities In Iran
Carly Hunt
University of Maryland
Angela Lewis
Western Michigan University
Haley Sterling
Purdue University
Lauren Bouchard
Purdue University
Susanna Turner
University of Northern Colorado
Shlee Martinez
Our Lady of the Lake University
Lauren Yurish
Chatham University
Posttraumatische Wachstum bzw. Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) ist ein in den 1990er-Jahren von Richard Tedeschi geprägter Begriff. Er bezieht sich auf seine Beobachtung, dass nach einer traumatischen Erfahrung viele Betroffene eine positive persönliche Transformation, also eine positive posttraumatische Entwicklung durchleben (Tedeschi und Moore 2016).
Full-text available
Our study aims to examine the salutary effects and interactions of three Chinese indigenous well-being (CIWB) constructs, namely relationship harmony (advocated by Confucianism), dialectical coping (derived from Taoism), and nonattachment (based on Buddhism) on mental health. Participants were 262 Taiwanese college students. Results revealed that the three CIWB constructs showed distinct associations with mental health. Relationship harmony was related negatively to psychological distress and positively to meaning in life and happiness. Dialectical coping predicted higher levels of positive affect and meaning in life, whereas nonattachment was the only and strongest protective factor against negative affect and psychological distress. Overall, nonattachment demonstrated the most adaptive effects on mental health. Additionally, moderation effects between dialectical coping and nonattachment on self-esteem, psychological distress, and happiness were observed. These findings underscore the importance of simultaneously investigating CIWB constructs to capture their unique and interactive contribution to psychological adjustment. Practical and research implications are discussed.
Trauma touches the lives of many of the clients with whom rehabilitation counselors work. Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) is a positive psychological response to trauma, manifesting as improvements in critical life areas such as relationships, personality, self-efficacy, and spirituality. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder triggered by trauma. While PTG and PTSD are separate entities, the two have a strong positive correlation. Stress and severe trauma are required to set both PTG and PTSD in motion. Although some people are predisposed to develop PTG based on variables associated with personality traits and the trauma itself, PTG can be facilitated in counseling and therapy. The purpose of this paper is to educate rehabilitation counselors about the difference between PTG and PTSD and to provide recommendations for promoting PTG in clients receiving treatment for PTSD.
Following adverse life events, many people report positive outcomes, sometimes referred to as benefit finding and growth (or BFG). Some people experience a new appreciation of their own strength and resilience or an increased self-reliance. Others describe strengthened relationships and increased closeness with others, greater compassion or altruism, a heightened sense of the fragility of life, or changes in life philosophies and spirituality. This chapter addresses several unresolved issues in the study of BFG, including whether an individual's ability to find benefits in a stressful or traumatic life event is an important contributor to subsequent quality of life and adjustment; how BFG perceptions develop and are maintained over time; shortcomings of current indicators purporting to measure benefits in the context of adversity; future directions for research in this area; and clinical applications of research in BFG. In this chapter, we take a new look at the BFG literature, revisit concerns identified in the first edition of this Handbook, and raise new concerns regarding how BFG is currently assessed and translated into new treatments. We caution against the rush to create interventions to enhance BFG in light of the potential detrimental effects on victimized individuals created by our societal emphasis on the power of positive thinking.
Where Do Clients Invest Their Emotions and Energy in the Time Line of Their Life?The Big Picture-Life ReviewReframing Developmentally Related RelapsesTherapist PreparednessSummary
This article describes the concept of posttraumatic growth, its conceptual foundations, and supporting empirical evidence. Posttraumatic growth is the experience of positive change that occurs as a result of the struggle with highly challenging life crises. It is manifested in a variety of ways, including an increased appreciation for life in general, more meaningful interpersonal relationships, an increased sense of personal strength, changed priorities, and a richer existential and spiritual life. Although the term is new, the idea that great good can come from great suffering is ancient. We propose a model for understanding the process of posttraumatic growth in which individual characteristics, support and disclosure, and more centrally, significant cognitive processing involving cognitive structures threatened or nullified by the traumatic events, play an important role. It is also suggested that posttraumatic growth mutually interacts with life wisdom and the development of the life narrative, and that it is an on-going process, not a static outcome.
Research on the reactions of first responders (e.g., police officers, fire fighters) to traumatic incidents has largely focused on negative symptoms (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder) rather than aspects promoting mental health. Consistent with the counseling profession's focus on growth and development, this study investigated the relation between mindfulness (using the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills) and posttraumatic growth (using the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory) among 183 police officers. Results of multiple regression analyses showed that effort toward spiritual growth was positively correlated, and accepting events without judgment was negatively correlated, with posttraumatic growth. Implications for mental health counseling are discussed.
Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) is a positive psychological response to trauma, manifesting as improvements in critical life areas such as relationships, personality, self-efficacy, and spirituality. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder triggered by trauma. In many studies PTG and PTSD are found to stem from similar traumatic events and to be positively correlated. As many of today's veterans are returning with PTSD, it is important that rehabilitation counselors have a strong understanding of how to effectively treat PTSD as well as facilitate PIG in veterans in order to ensure lasting positive effect. After thorough analysis of the PTSD and PTG literature, several treatments were determined to be effective for both the treatment of PTSD and development of PTG in veterans of war. Recommendations for rehabilitation counselors are provided to help recognize and facilitate PIG in veteran clients post-trauma.