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The philosophical roots of positive psychology can be tracedbackto Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, as well as Islamic and Athenian teaching and other ancient scholars, philosophers, and spiritual leaders (Peterson 8c Seligman, 2004). [...] positive psychology is an integrative framework that draws upon the enduring themes and values across time periods and Cultures tO test theories USing Scientific tools designed to diseover not only the elements of human well-being, but also the means by which that well-being can be experienced by all individuals. [...] (a) hope, spirituality, and appreciation of beauty are related to posttreatment recovery from depression (Huta and Hawley, 2010); (b) fostering signature strengths can lead to growth-promoting communities and building group cohesion (Schueller, 2009) ; (c) people high in curiosity reported more frequent growth-oriented behavior and greater life satisfaction (Kashdan 8c Steger, 2007); and (d) even in times of crisis, character strengths related to transcendence and humanity can help people to find meaning and connections with others to enhance their sense of belonging (Peterson and Seligman, 2003).
logical Services (NASP, 2000): School psychologists are advised to evaluate interven- Research-Based Practice tions to determine their effectiveness (Guideline 1.4), disseminate information to diverse communities (2.3), facilitate development of healthy learning environments (2.4), function as change agents (2.5), keep informed about advances in curriculum and instruction (3.7), help schools develop appropriate policies and practices (6.1, 6.3, 6.5), contribute to system change or school improvement plans (6.4), participate in the development of funding strategies (6.7), promote wellness (7.5), create linkages Signature Strengths in with community agencies (8.4), and actively participate in public policy discussions (8.7), to name just a few. While the Guidelines acknowledge that these are “good practice” guidelines that not all school psychologists will meet in their entirety, these Positive Psychology are the very kinds of practices that are likely to be constricted by an unwritten rule B y t e R Ry m o lo n y & m a u R e e n h e n W o o d P that all things related to testing come first. If rapid conversion to new test versions ositive psychology can be thought of as the scientific study of what is “right were an ethical imperative, it may come at the expense of other activities that serve about people” as opposed to the traditional focus on the healing of psycho- the interests of children and families. logical pain or trauma. The philosophical roots of positive psychology can be Just as school psychologists must set priorities among the many tasks that com- traced back to Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, as pete for their time, school districts set priorities with respect to resources, favoring well as Islamic and Athenian teaching and other ancient scholars, philosophers, and certain objectives, initiatives, and professional activities at the expense of others. spiritual leaders (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Thus, positive psychology is an inte- Thus, school psychologists and other specialists often must battle to have sufficient grative framework that draws upon the enduring themes and values across time pe- and current materials at their disposal. The ethical issues that come into play in such riods and cultures to test theories using scientific tools NASP members can join an online discussion about this situations were addressed by Jakubowitz and Shill (2008) in the newsletter of the designed to discover not only the elements of human article in the Communities School-Based Issues Division of the American Speech and Hearing Association: well-being, but also the means by which that well-being area of our website: can be experienced by all individuals. www.nasponline.org/communities When a new version of an assessment test or protocol is published, the speech– In the quest for a comprehensive understanding of well-being, Peterson and Se- language pathologist or audiologist should determine if that new version will ligman (2004) set out to define and classify positive traits in people that could be now be used in the work setting. If so, resources for purchase should be identi- examined, researched, diagnosed, and possibly used as interventions. If one consid- fied. If they are not readily available, the clinician should work with the super- ers the subjectivity of values, this mis- visor to develop a plan and timeline for purchasing the updated version. It is sion appears to be a daunting task, if not the clinician’s responsibility to fully inform the supervisor of the need to bud- Being able to measure simply undoable. Criticism included ar- get for replacement of critical evaluation tests and materials. If the clinician runs into resistance from the employer regarding purchasing new tests, then human strengths will not guments that the classification system would not be universal (i.e., it would it may be prudent to use this opportunity to educate the employer about the only facilitate an under- be culturally bound). However, the re- need for current assessment tools and tests in advocating for best practices. standing of those searchers developed a set of criteria In the meantime, any decision for using the older version should be carefully strengths but will also to evaluate the characteristics to de- made based on the needs of the individual client, not only on the basis of what help in efforts to in- termine if ubiquitous virtues exist, de- is readily available. crease them in individu- spite cultural variations and historical time periods. They limited the search systeM-Wide Coordination als and groups of people. to ancient civilizations that are gener- It is reasonable—desirable even—for a school district that makes extensive use of ally recognized as having had a lasting a particular test to have all staff members use the same version at a given point in impact on humankind. Peterson & Selig- time, and ideally, over the course of a given school year. This is especially true when a man (2004) reported that indeed there district—for better or worse—affords significant weight to cutoff scores or formulas was convergence across variables such as time, place, and culture and they delin- in making educational decisions, as may occur with identification of mental retarda- eated six characteristics that they called core virtues. These core virtues or signature tion and learning disabilities, or in preschool screening. strengths are listed and defined below. One consequence of district-wide coordination of test use is that close attention will be, or should be, devoted to test adoption decisions. A new test version may oc- ■■ Courage: Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish casion a period of review, with careful consideration of factors such as cost, psycho- goals in the face of opposition, external or internal; examples include bravery, metric properties, administration time, and applicability to the student population. perseverance, and authenticity This could require a period of a year or more, during which time continued use of ■■ Justice: Civic strengths that underlie healthy community life; examples include the same measure may be a sound policy. fairness, leadership, and citizenship or teamwork ■■ Humanity: Interpersonal strengths that involve “tending and befriending” oth- ConCLusion ers; examples include love and kindness More specific or pointed guidelines about timely adoption of new test ve
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