Effects of Strengths-Based Exercises on Depression Prevention and Promotion of Strengths in Adolescents
Kinney, Allie R.
Positive psychology, started by Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., in the late 1990s, is an up-andcoming movement advocating a more balanced psychology, one that develops inherent strengths and increases positive emotions in the individual. Although the study of subjective well-being and quality of life has existed in the areas of counseling and humanistic-based psychology for several decades, Seligman felt the need for these areas to unify, integrate into the greater academic defmition of psychology, and find support through empirical research. In the last 8 years, positive psychology has achieved much in understanding and describing why humans have and need positive emotions and positive traits, but the movement has not done much in the way of prescribing how positive psychology might be implemented on an institutional level. This paper explores positive psychology and how it might be applied institutionally by proposing a study involving youth and positive-oriented changes in behavior. The study proposed in this paper aims to explore the effectiveness of strengths-based exercises developed by Seligman, Steen, Park, and Peterson (2005) on adolescents. Using two inventories assessing depressive symptoms and strengths and virtues in a pre/post-study format, students complete one exercise per week that is intended to boost their individual strengths. Lasting five weeks, this study proposes that focusing on and implementing one's specific strengths will increase positive emotion, buffer against depression, and lower depressive symptoms in students, both immediately and on a long-term basis.
iv, 33 p.
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