Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 18 Issue 1 (January/February 2008), Pages 1-90

Philosophical dialogues as paths to a more ‘positive psychology’ (pages 17-38)

Abstract

Although family support programmes have been in place for several decades in Greece very little attention has been paid to evaluating the effectiveness of such endeavours, the techniques that influence their outcomes and the receptiveness to their messages. The purpose of this paper is to give an overview of research findings collected during the first qualitative research phase of a community mental health promotion project. The research was conducted in order to delineate programme outcomes and the characteristics that had an impact on the participants' lives. The 3‐month family support programme intended to introduce ‘philosophical dialogues’ as means to developing personal and communal understandings of what makes life worth living. The programme was developed and implemented on Crete under the auspices of a non‐profit community organization appropriately named ‘The Lyceum for Women’. The features of the programme that contributed and enhanced the participants' tendencies to become not passive targets but active partners and stakeholders in the process will be clarified, as will the conceptualization and approach. Of the 45 evaluation protocols that were analysed the following themes were most important for the participants: ‘Group as‐a‐whole process’—the sense of sharing and development understandings in a ‘parea’ (in‐group); ‘relational outcomes’—feeling of belonging, ‘reciprocated kindness’, and giving of self to others; personal and emotional outcomes‐self‐efficacy and empowerment; knowledge outcomes‐learning about positive emotions and enjoying the simple things in life; and group facilitator outcomes‐sharing stories, ‘gives of self to the community’. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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