Burgeoning Psychology Field will be at Centre of Societal Shifts

Burgeoning Psychology Field will be at Centre of Societal Shifts

New entity considers its role in creating a flourishing Canada

Effecting imperative societal shifts depends on an openness to new possibilities, and a relatively new field is uncovering research and practice to support Canadians in strengthening their possibility orientation, with a signature event for North America taking place this month that co-organizer Louisa Jewell describes as “surpassing every dream I had for it.”

The Canadian Positive Psychology Association (CPPA), the only body of its kind in North America, held its inaugural national conference July 20-21.

Discussions underway in the Isabel Bader Theatre in Toronto where the national positive psychology conference took place.

Amongst the lineup of researchers and practitioners presenting to the more than 290 delegates was University of Toronto professor Dr. Greg Wells telecasting live from the Olympic Games in London.

Agreeing to a last-minute presentation after another recruited speaker had to cancel for personal reasons, Greg made a case for becoming a corporate Olympian by learning the psychological and physical practices of Olympic athletes.

His presentation aligned with a growing new trend in positive psychology, which is recognizing the importance of the mind-body connection, says Louisa, noting many of the field’s strategies have tended to be what she calls “neck up.”

Sharing stories of his own experiences with Olympic athletes and their prep for not only major sports events but also significant meetings and negotiations, Greg added to reframing one’s thinking in a situation the need to consider how nutrition, sleep, exercise and stress reduction also affect one’s psychology and overall health.

Other aspects of the gathering also hinted at the potential positive psychology has to be at the centre of vital shifts in Canada, including plenty of time for informal networking, which many delegates took advantage of and said they especially appreciated, notes Louisa.

One lunch session had professionals sitting together by field, enabling them to meet like-minded people and talk about how they’re applying positive psychology in their work.

Louisa Jewell introducing Dr. Greg Wells, who telecast live from the international Olympic broadcaste centre in London. Greg is an on-camera sport science analyst for CTV during the 2012 Olympics.

The event was also singular in that it included presentations from both researchers and practitioners, providing added support in navigating the path from knowledge to on-the-ground application.

There was also the fact the organizing board was keen to hear the voice of members on the place of the CPPA in the movement and society going forward.

A graffiti board hung taped to one wall throughout the conference with these words splashed across it. “Imagine it is 2017 and Canada is flourishing.” Delegates were invited to write their thoughts on how the CPPA has contributed to the realization of this vision, with the board intending to consider their notions in a strategic planning session slated for this September.

In sharing their feedback, members also indicated a strong interest in local chapters, which they were assured by treasurer Lisa Sansom is on the agenda.

Work is also already underway to create a French community, in partnership with the International Positive Psychology Association and a related body in France.

But perhaps most telling about the possibilities in the field going forward is the fact that the entire two-day gathering was organized and run by volunteers, aside from an administrator hired the last few weeks to help out.

“I think there’s a spirit of community around positive psychology that so many people came forward to help,” says Louisa, noting she continues to be amazed that the group started off “without a dime in the bank” last January and were able to pull off the event with such success.

“I think it’s just a tremendous statement for the entire movement,”

The national conference will be held every two years.

For more information on the CPPA, click here.

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Michelle Strutzenberger

Michelle Strutzenberger has been a Generative Journalist and curator with Axiom News for more than 15 years.

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