Published: 2017-06-02

What do a Greek lawyer, an English psychotherapist, a Scottish coach, a Dutch writer, a Swiss entrepreneur and a French teacher have in common? With other professionals from all other Europe, they have embarked on a journey, they have enrolled in the International Masters of Applied Positive Psychology programme at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge.

Where Does IMAPP Take You?

Geographically speaking, it is pretty simple: Cambridge, UK and Paris, France. A few weeks per year, with your fellow MAPPsters, you explore the groundwork theories or the latest developments of the Science of Optimal Living, you dive into the practice and expand your own toolkit. It is a learning trip. But the real deal, the other kind of journey you sign for, is a little bit different. It is an inner journey towards self-discovery, it is a summer camp style journey where you build strong friendships and it is world tour-style journey where you feel you are part of something bigger, something truly meaningful.

Anglia Ruskin University

A Few Stopovers

Everyone’s starting point is an amazing Introduction Module. Hedonic and eudemonic wellbeing, positive emotions, flow, gratitude, kindness, mindfulness, post traumatic growth, motivation, you name it! The MAPP teachers know exactly what to do to enhance the travellers’ motivation … One concept that is particularly well applied here is the Self Determination Theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000). To foster engagement and a level of motivation and engagement, three basic psychological needs must be taken into consideration: autonomy, relatedness and competence.

Basic Needs

Autonomy is considerable. Once you discovered the basics, you get to pick your topics of study among a large choice. Want to go back to school? Take a tour in the Positive Education module and see what’s happening around the world to foster students’ wellbeing … Used to helping by talking? Positive Coaching or Positive Practitioners modules can help you integrate new tools in your practice. Interested in playing badminton and get the opportunity to learn more about motivation and performance theories, work out at the Positive Performance module.

More an organisation-type of person? Come and share an appreciative experience in Positive Organisations and become a detective for Business as an Agent of World Benefit a global initiative to find out how business can have a positive impact in the world. These are just a glimpse at what a MAPPadventure teaches you. With other modules like Positive Relationships, Positive Neuroscience, Well-Being: economic, social and behavioural causes you are sure to experience intense intellectual stimulation! Here are some frequent phrases that appear in the modules guides: ‘students may choose a topic of their interest’ ‘you can choose which question to address’ ’you may structure your work in a way that works best for you’ …

Talking about competence: reading, attending to classes, debating, writing assignments, it is a lot of hard work. It is not an easy path but it constitutes no doubt an intense intellectual stimulation! Our knowledge has been stretched, we have found countless sources of learning. We have become practitioners and have been asked to constantly reflect on our role and our practice.

Talking to other MAPPsters, I can say that we share a feeling of ‘it has all come together’.
Most of us had crossed paths with some elements of positive psychology before, but being on board here has created a kind of internal coherence. As if it finally made sense, we can use it in our everyday lives in our families, our schools, our practices, our companies …

Meeting Other Travellers

For ‘Relatedness’ we have got a special ingredient in our backpacks: other MAPPsters. I remember very well in the very first minutes of my Introduction module in Cambridge when the teacher asked us to share our feelings about being with a bunch of strangers starting this new adventure. What stroke me at the time and has been a constant source of mutual enrichment ever since was the diversity of answers. Some felt great and excited, some felt awkward and a little bit scared, others had mixed feelings.

But anyway, when you spend hours sharing about your life events, your personal strengths, when you debate together, question together, laugh together, hug each other (a lot!) and support each other in ways you would never have imagined … You finally understand that all these strangers you met on your first day are your tribe now. And as one of my MAPPster friend often says:

“Your tribe gives you your vibe!”

Going Back Home

Our MAPP journey is ending and we all feel a bit nostalgic but we know now that we have accumulated so many moments of positive emotions that we have built our personal resources and open our thought-actions repertoire in such a way that we have become more open, more flexible and more creative, according to the Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotions (Fredrickson, 2001).

We know that it may be the end of our course but it is only the beginning of our MAPPadventure because we are now part of something bigger, a bigger community whose aim is to make the world better. With our tribe, we have found our meaning and we will go on applying positive psychology and help other people, groups and institutions flourish in the same way we have over the last few months.

by Vanessa Clamy-Sebag, MAPP student at ARU

Anglia Ruskin University


Fredrickson, B.L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218–226.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary educational psychology, 25(1), 54-67.