What can positive psychology contribute to enhancing the quality of life of persons with (intellectual) disabilities?

Friday, November 1, 2013
First author:
Buntinx W.
Belonging & Quality of Life

Governor Kremers Center, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands

All authors:

Wil H.E. Buntinx

(Family) Quality of Life
quality of life; positive psychology


Quite some time after the disability field moved away from a pathological to a socio-ecological and quality of life approach, a similar paradigm shift took place in psychology resulting in a flourishing subfield within behavioural sciences. We will explore the possibilities of ‘Positive Psychology’ to making inclusive supports practices more effective.


An analysis of positive psychology literature in the tradition of Martin Seligman c.s. and of the contributions to the ‘Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology and Disability’ (edited by Michael Wehmeyer, 2013) has been made. Main findings will be transposed to the field of professional support for persons with (intellectual) disabilities.


A summary of assumptions, research outcomes and support technologies that contribute to a crossover of positive psychology and disability support practices. 


Until now, few efforts have been made to translating positive psychology theory and practice into the field of support for persons with (intellectual) disabilities. We explain how positive psychology can contribute to professional practices that focus on quality of life and life satisfaction of persons with disabilities. It will be demonstrated that professional support practices can benefit significantly from positive psychology theory and practice.