A new program at PCOM aims to help community members increase positivity in their lives.
A recent study in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being appeared to confirm what researchers have thought for many years: that happiness has a strong impact on healthy behaviors. A new program launched by Scott Glassman, Psy D ’13, associate director of the Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling program, speaks directly to that correlation.
The program, called “A Happier You,” is designed to help participants enhance their optimism, increase the frequency of positive emotions, and better manage any negative emotions. Over the course of six weeks, occurring several times throughout the year, a group meets at one of PCOM’s three community-based Healthcare Centers for an open discussion that focuses on instances in each participant’s life which could positively affect his or her mood and activities to increase happiness in a variety of areas. Weekly themes include gratitude, kindness, humor, successes and personal strengths.
“This is not therapy,” Dr. Glassman said. “We don’t delve deeply into personal obstacles, problems and past challenges but rather, we focus on how to grow and maintain positivity in the here and now.”
At a recent “Happier You” session on City Avenue, one group member, David, shared how some chronic health issues had caused him to be “mean. I was depressed,” he said. “I couldn’t accept my limitations, and I was fighting with the doctors. I didn’t listen.” He also noted he had felt burned out from his job as a nurse. He was referred to the group, and became a fixture in the program’s first two six-week sessions.
“It helped my attitude, I don’t let things get to me anymore,” said David. “I’ve come to accept certain things, and I listen more.”
Dr. Glassman says the program hopes to help its participants flex their happiness muscles. “Happiness is a skill that becomes more automatic with time,” he says. “And one person sharing their positive experiences can help and inspire others in the group.”
Each week in the program focuses on a different area and offers tips on how to not only cope with negative emotions, but also increase positive ones. At the end of each session, participants are given “happywork”—activities that can be done between sessions to help continue to grow feelings of happiness and positivity. Participants are asked to rate the strength of their positive feelings before and after activities to become more aware of the control they have over mood.
“We’re giving them the tools to build on the best of who they already are,” said Dr. Glassman.
Visit PCOM's A Happier You webpage for more information.
Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine has trained more than 15,000 highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach, treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM offers the doctor of osteopathic medicine, doctor of pharmacy and doctor of psychology degrees and graduate programs in mental health counseling, school psychology, physician assistant studies, forensic medicine, organizational development and leadership, and biomedical sciences. Our students learn the importance of health promotion, education and service to the community and, through PCOM’s Healthcare Centers, provide care to the medically underserved populations in inner city and rural locations.
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