Positive Psychology: Happiness Training

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The Community Brain Injury Service in ABMU Health Board will be working with the Psychology Department at Swansea University to run a Positive Psychology Group for people living with a neurological condition.

The first group will start mid February for an afternoon a week for eight weeks

Summary of the programme

Positive Psychology is the ‘scientific study of optimal human functioning that aims to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals and their communities to thrive’ (Seligman, 2005). Positive Psychology deliberately attempts to broaden the focus of psychology to give due emphasis to positive aspects of human experience, actions and relationships.

A plethora of research from the field of Positive Psychology has shown that happiness is a skill that can be learnt. The aim of our Positive Psychology Programme is to teach participants with neurological conditions about techniques and approaches that they can use to live a happier, more fulfilling life. The programme teaches sessions on the science of happiness, the benefit of positive emotions and flow, how to have a more optimistic outlook, exercises to increase resilience and positive affect. It also teaches skills in relaxation and mindfulness and helps people identify and use their unique strengths in order to live a good life.  As participants have all been affected by a neurological condition the programme also focuses on helping people adjust to the limitations imposed by their condition, and to move forward despite this, focusing on what they can do.  

The programme is facilitated by clinicians from the Community Brain Injury Service in AMBU health Board and academics from the Psychology Department at Swansea University. The group includes several ‘mentors’ who have been personally affected by neurological conditions. These mentors have overcome much adversity and have had to re-build all aspects of their lives. Despite this they now feel a deep sense of contentment and want the opportunity to help others to feel hope and to flourish despite their condition.  

There have been few studies looking at the application of Positive Psychology to the rehabilitation people affected by neurological conditions. Our collaboration will gather data to explore whether this approach is useful. Pilot data gathered over the past few years at the Community Brain Injury Service has shown promising results and so it is hoped that this new collaboration can build on this.

We are also looking at the affect that the mentor roles have on participants in relation to providing a vehicle for a sense of meaning and achievement. We are hoping that we can create roles for mentors within the Health and Wellbeing Academy such that they can use their skills and experiences to benefit their community.

Who is facilitating the Groups

Clinicians involved: Dr Zoe Fisher (Clinical Psychologist), Kelly Phipps (Assistant Psychologist) and Helen Bankhead (Occupational Therapist).

Academic Psychologists involved: Dr Jeremy Tree and Dr Andrew Kemp

MSc Psychology Student/honorary assistant psychologist:  Alexandra Hamill