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Toward a More Inclusive + Accessible Positive Psychology

written by Abimbola Tschetter 28 May 2024

Abimbola (Abi) Tschetter (MAPP '22) is a business writer, editor, and marketing consultant based north of Seattle on Whidbey Island. She is an assistant instructor in the University of Pennsylvania Master of Applied Positive Psychology program and editor-in-chief of its alumni publication, MAPP Magazine.

Abi's articles are here.

Disability and illness are both words that focus on deficits rather than strengths. Not only are the people who possess these conditions regarded in terms of deficits, but their needs are also overlooked. Regrettably, they are commonly excluded from considerations of optimal functioning and human flourishing.

Positive psychology, distinguished by its focus on augmenting strengths rather than the abating deficits, offers potential to shift perceptions of disability and chronic illness. But because its tendency to focus on the mean may feel exclusive and inaccessible to people with these conditions, the field has room to improve.

This May, MAPP Magazine collaborated with the MAPP Alumni Association’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA+) committee, curators of the newly launched MAPP DEIA+ Resource Library. Together, we explored several perspectives not only on chronic illness and disability, but also on what it will take to continue to move the field forward. We invite you to check out the new resource library, which is expanding with resources suggested by members of the MAPP community.

We’re pleased to now share the fruits of this collaboration with you, and we invite you to join us in considering your own unique role in the movement toward a more inclusive, more accessible positive psychology. 

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A land called hope: Assessing positive views in people living with cystic fibrosis

KC White (MAPP ’22) explores the role of hope in her own life and the lives of others living with cystic fibrosis (CF). Read about the inspiring findings from her capstone research in the hope, optimism, and world primal beliefs in people with CF. Her work posits that people with CF and other chronic illnesses can have the expectation to flourish even with challenging health circumstances.

Doors and stairs: An experience of accessibility

Movement toward a more accessible and inclusive world and society requires not only clarity about what these concepts mean but also an embodied understanding. Through a moving vignette, thought-provoking questions and resources, and a simple intervention, Chenaniah Henderson (MAPP ’23) and Elizabeth Jennings (MAPP ’17) offer an experience of accessibility.

Designing workplace systems for all

Tools aren’t just a way to make life easier; they are an essential component in promoting a more equitable workplace.

Leora Rifkin Edouard (MAPP ’16) dives into the importance of mattering and psychological safety in the workplace. She explains how simple tools can transform workplace systems, cultivating a workplace that truly works for all.

Strengths and self-determination in disability

Read excerpts from a recent conversation with Sheida Raley Ph.D, special education associate professor and researcher at the University of Arkansas.

Raley reflects on her research on fostering self-determination in individuals with extensive support needs, explores her hopes for educators and others to embrace a strengths-based approach, and shares her insights for developing a more inclusive and accessible positive psychology.

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Anton, J., Hagiwara, M., Raley, S. K., & Burke, K. M. (in press). Inclusion and self-determination for students with disabilities: The effects of interventions and classroom placement. Journal of the American Academy of Special Education Professionals.

Raley, S. K., Hagiwara, M., Burke, K. M., Kiblen, J. C., & Shogren, K. A. (2023). Supporting all students to be self-determined: Using the Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction within multi-tiered systems of supports. Inclusive Practices 2(1), 3-12.

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