Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology: The New 'Mantra' for School Counselors

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology: The New 'Mantra' for School Counselors

Article excerpt

Needfor positive psychology interventions

The parents and teachers today are a worried lot. According to a WHO report, "Health for World's Adolescents" (Online Report, Published 2014), suicide, depression and interpersonal violence are amongst the leading causes of death among adolescents. The counselors in schools are burdened with ever increasing referrals. School administration and teachers find themselves repeatedly looking for ways and means to manage a set of difficult youngsters in each class. Most schools witness increasing instances of behavioral problems coupled with a decline in academic performance.

This trend is also seen among students in semi urban schools in India where school authorities are struggling with problems like anger, violence, indulgence in street fights, bullying, neglect of self, a disregard for values, disruptive behavior in classrooms, a destructive mindset and a pleasure seeking materialistic attitude. The students in these schools are a source of worry not only for the teachers, but parents too. Parents are either too strict with the children or play into the hands of the children. Some are afraid to speak their minds in front of the children, lest the children do something that is harmful. Some children leam to manipulate their parents at a very early age, with parents toeing their line all the time. In schools where there are no counselors, the school Principals spend most of their office hours handling undisciplined students and parents who come to school ready to handover the entire responsibility to the school.

There may be different reasons for the current scenario. There may be environmental issues, socio-economic issues or mental health issues to blame, but the issues are real for all to see. With the joint family system breaking down, and parents finding less time for their children in recent years, the problem seems to have multiplied and the number of neglected children is on the rise. In a large number of schools, teachers and administrators are spending a substantial part of the school working hours, in sorting out and handling disciplinary problems instead of working towards educational goals and advancement ofleaming. Something has to be done to bring down the number of referrals for behaviour and discipline related issues. To provide guidance and hope to these students, there is an urgent need for an intervention program that is timely and preventive. The interventions not only need to be effective in preventing discipline and behavioral problems but also be helpful in building positive character traits and academic excellence. According to recent researches in the field, Positive psychologyjust may have an answer to these problems. For one, it has an immense feel good factor, as it moves away from the disease model and focuses on building positive character traits in an individual. While traditional approaches by schools focused on problem solving, Positive psychology puts the focus on capacity and strength building in which the focus is on preventive aspects (Terjesenet al., 2004 P. 163)

Martin Seligman introduced 'Positive psychology' when he was the President of the American Psychological Association. He wrote an article titled 'Building human strength: Psychology's forgotten mission'. Inl998, the theme of American Psychological Association convention in San Francisco was prevention and not treatment of pathology. Psychologists at this time were beginning to see the need for positive and preventive methods. In the introduction to millennial issue of the Americanpsychologist, Seligman questions the efficacy of a psychologist's work if the people suffering from depression, substance abuse or schizophrenia, continue to live in a world that nurtures these problems. He further mentions that preventing violent behaviour amongst school children would continue to be an uphill task if parents remain negligent and children have access to weapons. Seligman thus suggests, the time has come for looking at measures that enhance character strengths and "systematically build competencies" rather than focusing on corrective measures. …

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