Graduation Year

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational and Psychological Studies

Major Professor

Shannon Suldo, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Linda Raffaele-Mendez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda Raffaele-Mendez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sarah Kiefer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.

Keywords

adolescents, life satisfaction, negative affect, positive affect, psychopathology

Abstract

A dual-factor model of mental health conceptualizes mental health status as a combination of both psychopathology and subjective well-being. Current literature indicates that complete mental health (i.e., low psychopathology, high subjective well-being) is associated with the best academic and social functioning among youth. Thus, the absence of psychopathology alone is not sufficient for student success. While research on interventions for improving subjective well-being, termed positive psychology interventions (PPIs), is increasing, PPIs for youth in particular lag behind similar interventions for adults. Additionally, a majority of youth-focused PPIs have targeted singular constructs (e.g., gratitude, character strengths), have neglected to include relevant stakeholders in youth's lives, and have not examined the impact of booster sessions on maintaining gains in subjective well-being. Research questions answered in the current study pertain to: (a) the impact of a comprehensive, multi-target, multi-component, small-group youth-focused PPI on students' subjective well-being and symptoms of psychopathology, and (b) the extent to which booster sessions can prevent students from experiencing post-intervention declines in subjective well-being and symptoms of psychopathology. To answer these questions, 42 seventh grade students were randomly assigned to either immediately receive the PPI or to a wait-list control group; all participants' subjective well-being and symptoms of psychopathology were analyzed across time. At immediate post-intervention, students who participated in the PPI made significant gains in all components of subjective well-being, and there was a trend for them to report less internalizing and externalizing symptoms of psychopathology relative to students in the wait-list control group. By seven-week follow-up, students who participated in the PPI exhibited sustained high levels of positive affect, and there was a trend for them to report sustained low levels of negative affect and internalizing symptoms of psychopathology relative to students in the wait-list control group. Thus, findings from the current study support this multi-component PPI as an evidence-based method for making long-lasting improvements in early adolescents' positive affect, a primary indicator of subjective well-being. Implications for school psychologists, contributions to the literature, and future directions are discussed.

Share

COinS