Positive Psychology for High School


Thursdays 12-2pm

Instructor: Michael Parker


Course Description
This is an introductory course to the field of Positive Psychology.  Positive Psychology is the scientific study of human happiness, mental wellness, and the ability to thrive in life.  It is a relatively new field of psychology in that, rather than looking at mental health through the disease model of psychopathology, it looks at what it takes to be happy and productive.  Previously psychology, for the most part, concentrated on mental illness, what goes wrong, and how to help people try to achieve healing towards a “normal life”. Positive psychology seeks to find what goes right and what people can do to successfully thrive beyond “normal life”.  There will be six major units and each unit will consist of three parts.  

The main themes we will cover will be what positive psychology is, the original theory of positive psychology and PERMA, the neurophysiology of emotions, the positive effect that happiness can have on productivity and health, developing positivity and optimism, ways to restructure our thinking, positive habits such as mindfulness and gratitude, cognitive distortions and how to change them, personal strengths and values, relationships and social support, resilience, post-traumatic growth, and grit.  Students will learn to apply the principles to their own lives as well as how these are used in the field of counseling. Students will learn to read scientific research articles, analyze multiple viewpoints, and integrate these into well thought out papers. Students will also watch several TED talks and analyze what it would mean to put your purpose in life into a 10-15 minute talk. Students will create their own TED talk at the end of the course.


Students will do the following assignments throughout the year:

  • Attending weekly classes with the support teacher to discuss the topics covered each week.
  • Track their wellbeing and write journal entries analyzing the ideas presented and how the practices they are learning are affecting their wellbeing
  • Several reaction papers
  • Development of a personal theory where they will synthesize what they are learning and create a TED talk at the end of the course.


Textbook for course:

Available here to download