A well-being approach to human rights: broadening the recovery paradigm. Employing "happiness" for optimising post-traumatic growth and resiliency after adversity

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Bonker, Heather Danielle
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This paper analyses how “happiness” can prove useful in providing solutions to resiliency, post-traumatic recovery, and access to a broader range of human rights. It argues for the importance of a paradigm shift away from traditional aid responses embedded in “illness models,” driven by negative symptom elimination. This narrow approach may inhibit recovery and fails to recognise two things. First, that rights to mental and social well-being are not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. And second, that a broader range of post-traumatic outcomes may also include higher levels of functioning and resiliency. These oversights can impede progress in many life domains, interfering with enjoyment of a range of human rights. The paper explores what we know about interconnected variables for happiness and post-traumatic growth outcomes, and how a model acknowledging peoples’ strengths, goals, and values can be supported through creatively adapting “happiness” intervention strategies. A programme application is proposed for a women’s refugee trauma group in Africa. The conclusion is that a broadened approach incorporating happiness and wellbeing, may yield more advantageous gains for psychological and social reconciliation due to an interruption in people’s “life-plan.”
Second semester University: University of Copenhagen
human rights, psychology