STUDENT WELLBEING THROUGH APPRECIATIVE DIALOGUE: MOVING FROM SELF-DOUBT TO INSPIRED POSITIVE ACTION
Apart from maintaining good physical, psychological, and social health, student wellbeing also relies on the ongoing motivation that eventually leads to success and personal satisfaction through what has been achieved. Motivation is the manifestation of what is meaningful which gives us the ‘why’ to what we do. Self-doubt however is a common setback experienced by higher education students and one of the main causes of reduced motivation. It creates unwanted negative images that weaken a person mentally and physically, eventually taking its toll on study and life in general. Conversely, images that emerge from appreciative dialogue strengthen a person’s confidence and self-assurance around what can be accomplished. Appreciative dialogue within a counselling context seeks to restore motivation and assist students to move from self-doubt to inspired positive action. It achieves this through an integrated process including: positive thought-provoking questions that stimulate a healthy and achievable outlook; imagery that sets the desired direction; and behaviours that strengthen and maintain motivation. Throughout the entire process, the student is encouraged to understand that success is not limited to natural ability and that goals are only as achievable as the actions we take toward them. One of the key tenets of Appreciative Inquiry is that ‘what we focus on becomes our reality’ and this particular view is explored and re-emphasized through appreciative dialogue during each counselling session. Hence, as the student’s focus shifts away from self-doubt to inspired positive action, the desired outcome is seen as more achievable than previously believed. This process not only provides the student with a resourceful and liberating way to work through the experience of self-doubt, it also builds resilience as it becomes a trusted and transferrable life skill.