In March, 2006, as my classmates and I were moving toward graduation as the first-ever MAPP class, I wrote a post entitled "What good is a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology?" Stats for this site show that a fair number of folks search for information about such programs, and find that post. So, I thought it was time for an update.
It's been over two years since graduation. I have a better picture of what MAPP was for me, and here are some key areas where MAPP has been good for me:
Relationships: The relationships I made were amazing. I established friendships with many of my classmates, and many of those have deepened since. As I have met those in later classes, I have sensed much the same kind of connections forming in their classes, and it has been amazingly easy to connect across classes. This may sound syrupy or superficial, but it is true. I am not talking about some kind of utopian perfection of community, just real folks whom I like, respect, and enjoy working with. If you think about Barb Fredrickson's "Broaden & Build" theory and then imagine a group of people getting together with the intention of being positive and learning to be more positive together, perhaps this will make more sense.
A Base for Learning: I continue to add to my knowledge and refine my own integration of positive psychology principles. For example, we did not do a lot with emotional intelligence and only had a brief introduction to Appreciative Inquiry, but I've studied both in more depth over the last two years. I have also seen similar continued learning in many of my classmates.
A Base for New Action: I have had the opportunity to work with CLE programs, bar initiatives, and work in school systems because of MAPP. Some of this work has been way outside my previous range (Australia, for example) but some of it has been right in the core of my work with the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization. For example, I do a strengths-based annual planning session with each of my staff. The full range of such options is still unfolding, but it has already been exciting and enjoyable.
Continuing Contact with Researchers: MAPP alumni efforts provide periodic conference calls and other opportunities to hear from leading researchers, both those who taught in the program and others. The International Positive Psychology Association also offers opportunities. And, through my own contacts, I have been able to learn from and work with researchers in the field. When I have needed to contact researchers in my projects, they have been gracious and helpful in responding.
Personal Well-Being: I am happier, more optimistic, and more attuned to my strengths and the strengths of others. I enjoy and appreciate my family, colleagues, and friends more. I continue to work to apply what I have learned personally, and often it is my classmates who give me insights in how to move forward.
So, if you have found this site because you are considering the MAPP program at Penn, or even one of the newer programs at other schools, I hope these reflections from a little further down my personal path will be of assistance. Don't hesitate to contact me if you'd like to talk about it more. And good luck!