GREAT FALLS — Alliance For Youth in Great Falls was the location for a "positive psychology" class on Friday as part of its annual Stop The Stigma week.
Positive psychology is the idea of using a person's strengths to help them work through mental health struggles.
About a dozen mental health professionals listened and took notes as speakers discussed the topic of positive psychology.
"This is actually a training for mental health clinicians,” said Dr. Elfie Nader, who teaches psychology at Great Falls College-MSU.
"Many times in the mental health field, we focus on the illness piece of it or the deficits people have. This is a relatively new area of thought in psychology, probably been around 25 years, and instead focuses on building resilience in people, looking at strengths, building positive connections,” Nader explained.
She said this is an especially important topic during the pandemic: We've, particularly with COVID, seen an increase in anxiety, depression, substance use. If we can build people's strengths, we can help them really deal with some of the challenges when we're faced with adversity like a pandemic.”
Great Falls Public Schools mental health therapist Selena Coburn attended the class, and said she has experience with positive psychology.
"It's awesome to see so many professionals here today. It's exciting that we'll have positive psychology rippling out throughout the community,” said Coburn. "It'll be really nice to use positive psychology in the school system, utilizing kiddos' strengths, especially in the classroom, and being able to give those tools as well to our teachers."
If you’re interested in learning more about positive psychology Nader suggests starting with the work of psychologist Martin Seligman. He has written several books on positive psychology.
She also suggests asking a mental health professional what they know about positive psychology.