Positive psychology is a relatively new but rapidly growing field, focusing on building upon strengths rather than repairing deficits (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Its interventions have shown considerable efficacy in the general public as tools for improving emotion and wellbeing, and they are now being tested in the prevention and treatment of several mental health conditions.
An important starting point in this evaluation is to discern the extent to which elements of positive psychology are already employed in a given treatment approach. In the realm of addiction studies, which is experiencing a similar shift from a pathology mindset to a general flourishing mindset with the advent of the recovery movement, this line of inquiry seems particularly relevant. It can establishing the extent to which positive interventions are already employed and can be evaluated, as well as areas where positive interventions might breathe new life into treatment as usual.
This study will thus focus on the existence of positive interventions in treatment as usual through a qualitative analysis of the Project MATCH treatment manuals. The manuals were developed as part of a seminal study conducted in the 1980s and 1990s, on the uses of Motivational Enhancement Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Twelve Step Facilitation Therapy in the treatment of substance use disorders. UROP students will continue work begun recently at the University of Michigan by coding the manuals in order to evaluate the presence or absence of positive interventions and certain subthemes within the three classic psychotherapeutic approaches outlined.
The Project MATCH analysis offers opportunities for undergraduate students to delve into the current work in two dynamic fields for social scientists and mental health practitioners alike, all the while honing their general research skills. Through this work, students will gain extensive experience in the realm of qualitative research. They will also achieve footholds in positive psychology and addiction studies. Students will be supervised by a graduate research assistant and a professor from the School of Social Work. As valued members of a small team, they will contribute to the project's growth through their coding efforts, general research tasks such as locating articles, helping with literature reviews, and reviewing manuscripts, and participation in regular staff meetings to discuss projects and possible directions for future research.
Contact: Amy R. Krentzman, Assistant Professor
School of Social Work
p. (612) 625-2312 / (800) 779-8636
Seligman, M. & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5-14.