The Middle East Psychology Association (MEPA) has launched a new Division in positive psychology to provide a regional platform for research and knowledge exchange in the specialized discipline. The Division was inaugurated with a virtual launch event led by Dr. Louise Lambert, President of the new Division and Associate Professor of psychology at Canadian University Dubai (CUD).
The launch comes following an exponential growth in the study of psychology across the region and an increasing interest in positive psychology in particular. The new Division will help to raise awareness of the field and build an understanding of how it can be adopted and applied in an Islamic context.
Dr. Lambert, who is also Founder and Editor in Chief of the Middle East Journal of Positive Psychology, explained, “The study of psychology has flourished in recent years, particularly following the onset of the pandemic, which gave everyone time to think about their own personal needs. With this, an acute demand for psychology professionals has emerged in the region, and at the same time, students are increasingly seeing the benefits of pursuing a degree where they can learn about themselves and grow as individuals as well as professionals.”
She continued, “Positive psychology is a relatively new and traditionally western concept, which focuses on proactively promoting mental well-being, rather than simply treating psychological ill-health. The practice is based on PPIs (positive psychology interventions) and there is no copy and paste approach to this, particularly in regions like the Middle East, which have such a unique cultural and religious context.
“When we introduced the field in this region, we recognized the need to raise awareness and understanding, and this is now growing at pace, with some outstanding research outputs in the field. The new Division will take this momentum forward, bringing together academics and practitioners from across the region to share scientific data, collaborate on research, and raise broader awareness of positive psychology as an effective intervention.”
Students of CUD’s Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program will benefit from the growth of MEPA’s network as they will have opportunities to connect with experts in the profession and gain access to real-world data and case studies to help build their practical understanding in the field. The University now also offers every undergraduate student the opportunity to take foundation courses in psychology, to introduce them to a discipline that Dr. Lambert believes will be essential for success in the future workplace and society.
She concluded, “There is a growing realization that psychology is an important practice and can impact the health and well-being of nations as a whole. It can help to re-build lives, construct positive narratives, and promote tolerance and mutual acceptance, which will have long-term effects on social harmony. Any aspiring leader will find that an understanding of psychology is key to good governance as it will help them to engage their people, whether in business or society, to build a peaceful and prosperous future.”
The Middle East Psychological Association (www.MEPA.me) is based in Kuwait and led by Dr. Joanne Hands.