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Thu, 27 Jun 2019

Spotlight on a new approach to psychology

Happy person
Image: Aziz Acharki

A new approach to mental health will be on display at a James Cook University conference later this week.

JCU psychology lecturer Raquel Peel is helping to organise the conference, which begins tomorrow. She said it will focus on the practice of ‘positive psychology’.

“Broadly speaking, positive psychology uses a strength-based approach rather than a deficit or ill health approach to look at individual’s behaviours.

“It focuses on how to encourage optimal human functioning and flourishing. While other branches of psychology tend to focus on what is ‘wrong’ with the individual, positive psychology focuses on the promotion of wellbeing,” Ms. Peel said.

She said the professional application of positive psychology techniques was a long way from simple positive thinking and a lot more than a fad.

“It looks to people to rise to challenges and engage with other people. It shows people how to find fulfilment and why you should help others,” Ms Peel said.

Associate Professor Wendy Li, JCU psychology lecturer and conference chair, said positive psychology complements, rather than tries to replace, traditional psychology.

“The conference will also be the first of its kind with a strong focus on mental health in the Tropics in the Asia-Pacific region. Other themes are prejudice and discrimination against minority groups such as indigenous people and refugees, and individual and community resilience,” she said.

Dr. Jasleen Chhabra, PhD Candidate at JCU, who is also helping to organise the conference, said it will feature community groups discussing how they responded to the Townsville floods and a terrorist attack in Christchurch.

The Serving the Underserved in the Tropics: Making a Difference with Positive Psychology Conference will be held at the Townsville Campus of JCU on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 June.

Find out more about the AusAsian Mental Health Research Group.


Chair of the Organising Committee:
Associate Professor Wendy Li
T: 07 4781 6850

Professor Darrin Hodgetts from Massey University in New Zealand will be attending the conference.

He will speak on the Christchurch attack and is available for interview through Associate Professor Wendy Li’s contact, above, or at D.J.Hodgetts@massey.ac.nz

Co-Chair of the Logistics Committee:
Dr Jasleen Chhabra

Co-Chair of the Logistics Committee:
Ms Raquel Peel