oxford-handbook-of-positive-psychology-on-the-college-campusEditors: John C. Wade, Lawrence I. Marks, and Roderick D. Hetzel
Publisher: Oxford University Press – 376 pages
Book Review by: Sonu Chandiram

One of the newest specialties in psychology is positive psychology, the scientific study of the factors associated with creating success. Researchers and practitioners in this specialty ask questions such as: “what thoughts and actions by a certain individual or a group of people led to outcomes that are deemed necessary and even critical to desired outcomes?”

A growing body of research since 1998 within this relatively newer field has unearthed and identified certain concepts and strategies that have been found to be essential in achieving certain targets and goals. That research is presented in this book.

Some people assume that positive psychology is similar to positive thinking which suggests that people focus on positive thoughts and ignore negative ones, in order to get positive results. However practitioners of positive psychology do not propose that we ignore negative thoughts or our weaknesses. Instead they closely study what actually factors works for different people, and write in detail about their findings obtained by using the scientific method.

Twenty people including the three editors named above authored the 15 chapters of this book that we list below to provide you an overview :

  1. Positive Psychology and Higher Education: The Contribution of Positive Psychology to Student Success and Institutional Effectiveness
  2. Millennials in Higher Education: As Students Change, Much About Them Remains the Same
  3. Positive Psychology 101
  4. Cultural Competence in Positive Psychology: History Research, and Practice
  5. Enhancing Intellectual development and Academic Success in College: Insight and Strategies from Positive Psychology
  6. Positive Psychology in the Classroom
  7. Positive Career Counseling
  8. Positive Supervision and Training
  9. Personal Growth and Development
  10. Social Development and Relationship Enhancement
  11. The Role of Positive Psychology in Fostering Spiritual Development and a Sense of Calling in College
  12. The Intersection of Positive Psychology and Leadership Development
  13. Positive Psychology in College Sport and Exercise
  14. Life Coaching for Students
  15. Creating a Positive Campus Culture

Of note is that a course in positive psychology has become a very popular elective at Harvard University. The editors write: “Because positive psychology provides a framework for enhancing individual, group and institutional well-being, it is particularly relevant for college campuses, which are ripe for such strength-based interventions.”

They point out that this book “ provides innovative strategies that can be employed with students to enhance both their personal development and educational experiences. The book also provides an overview of the state of college students’ mental health and relevant developmental issues.”

Martin Seligman, a former president of the American Psychological Association has often been described as the father of positive psychology. He challenged applied psychologists in the 1990s to help reduce mental illness and make the lives of people more fulfilling and identifying and nurturing talent. But a focus on the positive within applied psychology can be traced as far back as the early 1900s.

Jeana L. Magyar-Moe, author of chapter 3 in this book entitled Positive Psychology 101 defines positive psychology as “the scientific study of optimal human functioning, the goals of which are to better understand and apply those factors that help individuals and communities to thrive and flourish.” He traces the history and growth of positive psychology in this chapter

The study of positive psychology is expected to grow broader and deeper, Magyar-Moe writes, and the main reason is that it applies to and will benefit everyone as we discover more clearly understand the who-what-when-where-and-why of happiness. Everybody wants to lead happier and more satisfying lives!



John C. Wade is Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Clinical Psychology Program at Emporia State University. He earned his PhD in counseling psychology from Pennsylvania State University. He frequently conducts workshops on positive psychology, training and supervision, as well as current psychotherapy approaches. He is the co-author of Strength-Based Clinical Supervision: A Positive Psychology Approach to Clinical Training.

Lawrence I. Marks is a licensed psychologist at the University of Central Florida Counseling and Psychology Services, and earned his PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He has extensive experience providing individual and group counseling and coaching, and has conducted over 200 presentations focusing on college student mental health and wellness including positive psychology applications.

Roderick D. Hetzel is a licensed psychologist n independent practice at Waco Psychological Associates. He also holds an appointment as Adjunct Professor of Practical Theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University. He earned his PhD in counseling psychology from Texas A&M University, and his areas of professional interest include mind-body health, positive psychology, and college student mental health


Tracy J. Cohn
Glory Emmanuel
Sarah L. Hastings
Tim Hodges
Sharra Durham Hynes
Janice E. Jones
Jessica Kennedy
Vera Kidd
Michelle C. Louis
Jenna L. Magyar-Moe
Lawrence I. Marks
Lisa M. Miler
Christine Rubitschek
Laurie A. Schreiner
Frank Shushok, Jr.
Bruce W. Smith
Jennifer Teramoto Pedrotti
Megan A. Thoen
Belinda Vicuna
John C. Wade