Child and Youth Care Forum

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 47–72 | Cite as

Health Realization: A Principle-Based Psychology of Positive Youth Development

  • Thomas M. Kelley


While we have numerous research-based programs for youth aimed at curbing drug use, violence, suicide, teen pregnancy, and delinquency, we lack a rigorous principle-based psychology of positive youth development. Instead of focusing on fixing what is assumed to be missing or broken in at-risk youth, we need a psychology grounded in fundamental causal principles that reveal clearly how such children and adolescents can become self-motivated, socially competent, compassionate, and psychologically vigorous adults. While the emerging field of positive psychology has attempted to shift the field's emphasis from understanding and treating youthful dysfunction to facilitating well-being and resiliency in young people, it lacks a principle-based foundation and continues to mistakenly endorse external causes of positive affect and prosocial behavior. This paper offers a unique, principle-based psychology of positive youth development commonly known as health realization (HR). The underlying principles of HR are delineated, contemporary research that supports its major assumptions cited, and the results of applied HR research with at-risk youth in clinical, educational, and community empowerment settings described.

health realization positive youth development positive psychology psychology of mind 


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© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas M. Kelley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Criminal JusticeWayne State UniversityDetroit

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