Volume 7, Article 10
Strengths Gym: The impact of a character strengths-based intervention on the self-esteem of children with Special Education Needs and Disabilities
Ashleigh Holding, Carmel Proctor, Roger G. Tweed and Matthew Smith
Citation: Holding, A., Proctor, C., Tweed, R. G., & Smith, M. (2023). Strengths Gym: The impact of a character strengths-based intervention on the self-esteem of children with Special Education Needs and Disabilities. European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, 7, 10, 1-13. https://www.nationalwellbeingservice.org/volumes/volume-7-2023/volume-7-article-10/
Processing dates: Submitted 13 February 2023; Resubmitted 27 April 2023; Accepted 15 May 2023; Published 21 November 2023
Background/Aims/Objectives: Learned helplessness, diminished life satisfaction, and low selfesteem
are linked to depression among children. Past research suggests that children who have
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are at an increased risk of experiencing learned
helplessness, diminished life satisfaction, low self-esteem, and, therefore, future mental health
disorders. Character strengths interventions (CSIs) are positive interventions for supporting children
in improving learned optimism, life satisfaction, and self-esteem.
Methodology: A 7-week repeated measures intervention study investigated the impact of a CSI
named Strengths Gym (Proctor & Fox Eades, 2019) on the life satisfaction, self-esteem, and positive
and negative affect of 30 students aged 9 to 10 years old.
Results: Results indicated no significant pre-intervention differences in life satisfaction, self-esteem,
or positive and negative affect between SEND and non-SEND students. However, significant preand
post-intervention score differences in life satisfaction, self-esteem, and positive affect, with no
significant difference in the pre- and post-intervention score differences for negative affect, were
found among the full sample population.
Discussion/Conclusion: Results indicated a significant positive increase in life satisfaction, selfesteem,
and positive affect for both SEND and non-SEND students. Overall, results support the use
of Strengths Gym as promising intervention for supporting and improving the life satisfaction, selfesteem,
and positive affect of SEND students.
Key Words: Strengths Gym; character strengths; learning disability; special needs; positive psychology; life satisfaction; well-being
Ashleigh Holding is with Buckinghamshire New University, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, HP11 2JZ
Carmel Proctor is with Positive Psychology Research Centre, St. Saviour, Guernsey, GY7 9XS
Roger G. Tweed is with Douglas College, 700 Royal Avenue, New Westminster, BC, V3M 5Z5, Canada
Matthew Smith is with Buckinghamshire New University, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, HP11 2JZ