Positive School Psychology

Part of the Positive Education book series (POED)


Central to building a positive institution is the integration of psychological services into the daily operation of schools. While an ideal model would see the psychologist as a specialist staff member it also focuses on building organisational capabilities to strengthen the reach of psychological specialists. With current psychologist-tostudent ratios ranging from 1:1500 to 1:2000 across most Australian school systems (Faulkner, InPsych: The Bulletin of the Australian Psychological Society, 29(4), 10–13, 2007), the traditional welfare approach in schools typically reaches a minority of the population and does not necessarily help to raise the overall well-being of the student population. The two questions that must be addressed are, firstly, what are schools doing to support the students who don’t seek help, and secondly, what can schools do to further prevent mental illness? This chapter outlines the theoretical and applied shift of St. Peter’s College’s psychological and counselling services, from the welfare model to the integration of the well-being model. Welfare models in schools tend to be reactive and aim to reduce the risk, prevalence, and severity of mental illness and psychopathology (e.g. anxiety, depression), and treatment is usually focused on the individual’s deficits (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, American Psychologist, 55(1), 5–14, 2000). Building upon existing interventions in the school, the proactive well-being model uses a positive psychology approach and promotes well-being and resilience in the whole-school community. Using Caplan’s (Principles of prevention psychiatry, 1964) principles of preventative mental health to highlight the shift, traditional preventative approaches have been incorporated into the school’s well-being framework, creating change in the counselling setting and throughout the school, the full spectrum of mental health, from psychopathology, to the prevention of mental illness, and the promotion of well-being and flourishing for all students.


Psychopathology psychological services School psychology Educational psychology Well-being 


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Copyright information

© The Anglican Church of Australia Collegiate School of Saint Peter trading as St Peter's College 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St Peter’s CollegeAdelaideAustralia

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