As Davidson students head into the final week of classes and begin their final exams, this week I am excited to share a set of exercises from experts in positive psychology. I hope you find their perspective and suggestions valuable!
Today’s Expert: Ann Marie Roepke, Ph.D.
Dr. Ann Marie Roepke is a clinical psychologist in Seattle, WA. In addition to providing individual psychotherapy, she also provides training and consulting for healthcare professionals and others to promote effective and fulfilling work. Her research seeks to further our understanding of and ability to promote posttraumatic growth, or the experience of positive change as a result of experiencing adversity. She also explores the new concept of post-ecstatic growth, or profound positive changes experienced following highly positive life events. In addition to her research in these areas, Dr. Roepke is interested in promoting well-being and recovery through new technology, such as SuperBetter, an internet/mobile phone intervention that uses game design elements to reduce depressive symptoms.
The theme of this psychology exercise will be pursuing your core values – even, or especially, when feeling anxious or down. Today’s theme and exercise predates the official founding of the field of positive psychology. It’s drawn from two other approaches that have a fair degree of overlap with some positive psychology principles and practices:
- Motivational Interviewing, an evidence-based approach for helping people to make difficult behavioral changes (such as quitting/changing substance use), developed in the 1980s.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a “third-wave” cognitive behavioral therapy that’s shown promising results across a range of presenting problems. To learn more about the efficacy of ACT, check out this review of ACT studies and this meta-analysis on ACT.
I use all three of these approaches in my clinical practice, and I hope that you find the overlap interesting. Speaking of my clinical practice – a mandatory and standard disclaimer: this video and email are provided for educational purposes, and are not intended as medical advice, a healthcare service, diagnosis, treatment, or a doctor-patient relationship.
Today’s Positive Psychology Exercise: Values Card Sort
1) Print and cut out these values cards: http://www.motivationalinterviewing.org/sites/default/files/valuescardsort_0.pdf
2) Sort them into 3 piles:
- Not Important to Me
- Important to Me
- Very Important to Me
3) Then look at your ‘very important’ values. As needed, remove any that can be downgraded to ‘important.’ If any values seem to fit together, feel free to group them.
4) Reflect on how these values are – or aren’t? – showing up in your daily life right now. Are there any ways you’re living these values? Are there any ways you want to do more of this?
To learn more about values-related approaches in the context of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, check out this chapter from Mindfulness & Acceptance.
The Science: See more of Dr. Roepke’s publications here.
Roepke, A. M. & Seligman, M. E. P. (2012). Doors opening: A mechanism for growth after adversity. Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(2), 107-115. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2014.913669
Abstract: People commonly experience positive psychological changes after adversity, but little is known about how this growth happens. We propose that engagement with new possibilities – seeing ‘doors opening’ in the wake of loss – is key in this process. We hypothesized that people would report greater growth if they saw new possibilities in the aftermath of adversity. We also predicted that unless people had engaged with new possibilities, they would report greater deterioration when adversity disrupted their core beliefs. A diverse group of adults (N = 276) from the US and India participated in a cross-sectional online study. Individuals experienced more growth if they had experienced more core belief disruption and more engagement with new possibilities. Engagement partially mediated the relationship between core belief disruption and growth. Engagement may also buffer against deterioration when core beliefs are disrupted. We conclude that pursuing new opportunities may be a crucial step in growth.