Division 17 Section on Positive Psychology

Positive psychology is the scientific study of human strengths and virtues. It involves an attempt to move toward a more balanced perspective on human functioning that considers motives, capacities, and human potentials. Counseling Psychology historically and presently continues to be one of the few disciplines that highlights the values of fostering human capacities, satisfaction, and well-being. In some form Counseling Psychology always has been a vital part of promoting good health and preventing disease, including mental, physical, and social disorders for individuals and communities. It is in the context that this Section was formed. The aim of the this group is to focus on how Counseling Psychology fosters and builds human strength and well-being and in pursuing this endeavor, furthers the development of positive psychological science and practice. This site includes information about positive psychology research, teaching, and practice as well as events, strengths based books, and resources.

SPP is recruiting Student Campus Representatives!

The Student Campus Representative (SCR) program is a new initiative of the Section on Positive Psychology. The SCR will work closely with and report to the Section's Student Representative. This is a one year position in which SCRs will:

  • Assist in the recruitment of students at their university and other local universities.
  • Give a short presentation about the Section to their department. This presentation will be provided by the Section.
  • Communicate quarterly with the Section on Positive Psychology's student representative. 

If you are interested in serving as an SCR for your university, please apply by emailing a statement of interest and your CV to the section Student Representative, Adam Fishel. Campus Representatives will be appointed on a rolling basis.  A list of current Campus Representatives can be viewed here

2014 Award Winners Announced!

The winner of the Student Award for Distinguished Contributions to Positive Psychology is Blake Allan, M.S. 

Rhea Owens presents Blake with his award at the 2014 APA Convention

Rhea Owens presents Blake with his award at the 2014 APA Convention

Blake is completing the final year of his doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Florida. He will attend internship at the University of Miami. In addition to working as a therapist and instructor, he conducts research on the intersection of positive, counseling, and vocational psychology. Specifically, he researches what makes work meaningful, focusing on helping behaviors and factors that limit vocational choice.


The winner of the Shane J. Lopez Award for Professional Contributions in Positive Psychology is Michael Scheel, Ph.D. 

Rhea Owens presents Michael with his award at the 2014 APA Convention

Rhea Owens presents Michael with his award at the 2014 APA Convention


Michael is a Professor of Counseling Psychology and Program Director of Training at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His research involves the application of positive psychology to psychotherapy, hope and motivation in therapy, and high school drop out prevention. He teaches a graduate course in the application of positive psychology and will be creating an undergraduate positive psychology course as well. He is an Associate Editor of The Counseling Psychologist. He has also obtained significant grant funding for the Building Bridges Dropout Prevention program for high school students. 

Congratulations to our winners!