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Positive Psychology and Mental Wellness: What Have We Been Missing?

Thursday, December 20, 2018
12:00 pm1:00 pm

The importance of recognizing Dual Diagnosis (co-occurring developmental disability and mental illness) to better understand the needs of youth with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities who engage in challenging behavior has received more attention in recent years. While this important advance opens up a variety of new strategies and perspectives on treatment and development, it doesn’t present a complete picture. New Jersey’s Children’s System of Care (CSOC) emphasizes a person or child and family centered approach to providing support. This approach values individual development and youth achieving their potential within the family and community. This can be further realized through a Positive Psychology approach. The challenge is that “disability services” begin with a working definition based on things that a person cannot do, and Mental Health services are typically organized around the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness (labeling and treating pathology that has undermined a person’s behavior and development of adaptive skill).

This presentation will focus on insights gained from the field of Positive Psychology – a new discipline of study that emerged in the early 2000s. We will focus on the important shift in perspective – What can we do/need to d to support health and well-being, so that we maximize each youth’s opportunity to live up to their potential? Discussion will include shifting toward a genuine mental HEALTH perspective with a focus on wellness and how we can support this in meaningful ways, using the resources that are currently available to child and family teams within CSOC.