About the Positive Psychology Lab

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The Positive Psychology Lab at Antioch University Seattle began in 2018, but we grew from an already present desire to better understand how to identify and amplify client strengths to help overcome mental illness and minimize its impact.  Initial projects revolved around training issues, including strength-based clinical supervision and the application of a train the trainer approach with Positive Psychology and strength-based interventions like Solution-Focused Therapy.

Interest in strength-based approaches and positive psychology grew and students initiated research projects, including dissertations and group projects.  Focus areas have included the concepts of optimism, flourishing, well-being, resilience, and self-care.

In 2020, especially in response to COVID-19, we began looking at new ways to continue our research and education initiatives.  We moved online and started adding positive psychology resources to our site and developed our own Positive Psychology Blog.

By mid 2021, two students completed doctoral dissertations on positive psychology and four others are in progress. Three groups of doctoral students presented at the 2021 American Psychological Association Convention and several outcome studies are now being written up for potential publication. Links to these resources can be found on our Research page. 


Positive Psychology Focus

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. It is founded on the belief that we want to live meaningful and fulfilling lives and want to cultivate what is good within ourselves to enhance all aspects of our lives.  (M. Seligman, Positive Psychology Center).

Positive Psychology is a scientific theory that enables us to categorize, study, and apply positive psychology principles in the real world. The Positive Psychology Lab is focused on both scientific research and real world application.  We strive to better understand how to use our strengths to overcome or minimize the impact of mental illness and how to improve well-being within individuals, families, and communities.

We are focused on the following subareas of positive psychology:

  • Well-Being and the PERMA Model (PERMA stands for Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment)
  • Character Strengths and Virtues
  • Psychological Capital, including Hope, Self-Efficacy, Resilience, and Optimism (Often referred to together as HERO)
  • Flow, Grit, Savoring, Gratitude, Self-Care, and Post-Traumatic Growth
  • Broaden and Build strategies and Strength-Based interventions (including Solution-Focused Interventions)

Mission and Activities

The Positive Psychology Lab seeks to engage individuals, families, and communities in an exploration of strengths, resilience, and well-being.  We are part of the larger mission at Antioch University Seattle to advance social, economic, and environmental justice.

We work to achieve our mission through three overlapping activities:

Education and Training, including clinical supervision, supervision training, and our positive psychology blog.

Research, including our current research projects, publications, and presentations.

Clinical Practice and Real World Application, including our positive psychology blog and other current projects.


Our Team

We are a group of graduate students and faculty in the Clinical PsyD Program at Antioch University Seattle. Along with the names below, other students participate in research, complete dissertations, and collaborate on community projects related to positive psychology. See our Research page to view these projects and publications. 

Chris Heffner, PsyD, PhD - Faculty Director, Blogger
Hannah Harrison, BS - Doctoral Fellow (2021-2022)
Ashley Turner, MSW - Doctoral Fellow (2020-2021)
Gracie Struthers, BA - Doctoral Fellow (2019-2020)
Kelle Agassiz, BA - Doctoral Fellow (2018-2019)
Gwendolyn Barnhart, PhD - Blogger
Crystal Hall - Blogger
Elle Harris - Blogger


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