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Positive psychology interventions for individuals with mental disabilities : literature review

Schröder, A. (2018) Positive psychology interventions for individuals with mental disabilities : literature review.

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Abstract:As opposed of pathologizing people, positive psychology mainly focuses on well-being and life-satisfaction and positive psychology interventions (PPI) have been established to foster quality of life in both clinical and non-clinical populations. From previous research it is known that mentally disabled people, providing they receive sufficient support, are capable of experiencing pleasure and to lead a life that satisfies their needs. At the present day, little is known about the potential of PPIs in the context of mental disabilities. Therefore, the present systematic literature review aims at presenting the current state of knowledge about the application of positive psychology in the context of mental disabilities. A systematic literature search have been carried out using the scientific databases Scopus, Web of Science and PsycInfo looking for studies published between 1998 and April 2018 using keywords to identify positive psychology interventions (e.g. (applied) positive psycholog*) especially tailored to mentally disabled individuals (e.g. mental disab*). The analysis of the interventions has been organized around Seligman’s basic elements of well- being (positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment), and potential effects have been explored taking account of methodological aspects of the studies. Eleven studies have been reviewed showing that, for instance, experiencing positive emotions, developing goals, strengthening positive and trustful social relationships, and exploring personal achievements and strengths have been central goals of the interventions. For this purpose, various methods and techniques (e.g. mindfulness mediation and telling personal life-stories) have been used. Depending on intervention method type (e.g., life- story), positive psychology interventions were able to significantly enhance well-being. This review shows that positive psychology interventions for people with mental disabilities is a relatively young yet promising subfield. Indeed, few studies available indicate that PPIs can successfully improve well-being and quality of life of individuals with mental disabilities. To further investigate the potential of PPIs to improve wellbeing in the context of mental disabilities, additional RCT studies with practice-based case studies will have to be complemented.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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