How happiness and perception affect evidence-based interventions

By: Dr. Cheri Shapiro, Director

I recently attended the Low Country Mental Health Conference in Charleston, SC.  This amazing conference offered the opportunity to really think beyond what we may encounter in our day-to-day work.  Keynote speakers highlighted the importance of happiness and research related to our experience of happiness (Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D.) as well as the critical role of our internal attitudes and beliefs on perception and current research on consciousness (Anil Seth, D.Phil.).

Both happiness and perception are critical to think about as we seek, study, and implement evidence-based interventions.

With regard to happiness and well-being, thinking about how we can assess our impact is important.  Many measures focus on diminishing the negative, but we need to work toward increasing positive outcomes, like hope and happiness.  There are measures of happiness and well-being that you may wish to consider (for examples, see the website for the Positive Psychology Center at The University of Pennsylvania).

When we think about perceptions, we need to consider our own beliefs about evidence-based interventions and their impact.  Do we believe, truly, that the interventions we use can and do work?  Having evidence of positive impact on outcomes from scientific studies (what evidence-based interventions are all about) can help us know that favorable outcomes are possible.

Do we believe that a particular intervention will work for the special and unique child, adolescent, or family in front of us?  What we believe can impact our perceptions and expectations; if we are not sure, how can we carefully assess and monitor the impact of the intervention as we proceed in treatment?  Gathering information from our clients is critical to help us reach the best decisions.

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