Join us at the Central Library on Friday, October 19th when we host Dr. Anna-Lisa Ciccocioppo's lunch hour discussion on how to apply a positive psychology perspective to enhance career counselling, as part of our ongoing partnership with the Career Development Association of Alberta. We asked Dr. Ciccocioppo's more about the topic, her research at the University of Calgary, and how this branch of psychology continues to evolve:
Dr. Ciccocioppo, positive psychology is a relatively recent branch of psychology, and there seem to be varying definitions. How would you describe it?
I would describe it as the scientific study of human strengths and what goes right in life. Psychology has traditionally focused its research on diagnosing and treating problems, so the Positive Psychology approach turns this around and focuses on assessing an individual's character strengths and how they can further enhance our lives.
Given that many of us are experiencing huge changes in the workplace, can these strategies help with optimism towards new concepts or workplace practices?
There is a lot of uncertainty in the labour market, and changes in the workplace can be challenging to navigate. Learning more about our character strengths can serve as an important part of the self-assessment process, and having that self-awareness is an essential part of career development. When we become more aware of the character strengths that are most important to us, it gives us valuable information that helps us to make good decisions and to seek out new fulfilling opportunities. My research colleagues (Dr. Janet Miller and Dr. Sonya Flessati from Mount Royal University) and I have presented on how Positive Psychology can be used in our own personal and professional development as career practitioners and with team building in the workplace.
Certainly stress and negativity don't help foster creativity at work. Is this part of its appeal as well, and how?
Yes, I believe that Positive Psychology's approach encourages us to harness our strengths to assist us with problem solving and enhance our overall well being, which in turn fosters an environment in which creativity is encouraged and nurtured, and people are more engaged in their work.
Dr. Ciccocioppo, you’re an accomplished national and international speaker. What drew you to this topic, and how to you think it will develop and evolve?
Dr. Miller, Dr. Flessati and I have been exploring how to integrate this perspective into our career counselling research and practice for nearly ten years. Positive Psychology's new perspective was intriguing, and we saw ways in which its focus on strengths was very much in line with what we as career counsellors strive to do. Both Positive Psychology and career counselling look to empower individuals with a greater awareness of their character strengths and how to make choices that align with them. In the last few years, greater attention has been placed on the use of Positive Psychology in career counselling. I think that with ongoing economic challenges and instability in the labour market, it is more important than ever to be aware of our strengths, to be adaptable, and to focus on employability rather than employment. The Canadian Positive Psychology Association is brand new and the first national conference was held this past summer. It will be fascinating to see how Positive Psychology's impact on our work grows and evolves.
Calgary Public Library has a wide range of books and audio material on postitive psychology, including The Happiness Advantage. For help in researching more on this topic, call the Central Library at 403-260-2782. and we would be happy to assist you.