Appreciative Inquiry



If you’ve been reading the last few blogs, you’ve probably noticed how much I’ve been raving about the book, “Happier,” by Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D. from Harvard University. Many times I have stated that a founding premise of the book is that we may not find “happiness” in life, but we can always be “happier.”

Appreciative Inquiry

This week, I was pleased to re-discover a principle I had not studied since my graduate days, the concept of Appreciative Inquiry.

In Chapter 13, Sharar talks about studies by Dr. David Cooperrider in the area of Appreciative Inquiry. In short, this is what it means, “Appreciative Inquiry focuses on what has worked or does work. To ‘appreciate’ means to recognize the value of something and also to increase its value.”1


Every week when our staff members sit down with foster teens to look back upon their week, we do a form of Appreciative Inquiry. Based upon my rediscovery of this concept we are going to add two questions to our weekly reviews that will more pointedly draw out this concept.

1.“What has made you happier this week?”

2.“How can you plan to do more of what made you happier?”

I find these two questions especially important in working with children who have had multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) in their history. It is a form of helping them take control of the moment and the week. This is essential if we are to help them move from trauma to resilience.


1 Happier, Tal Ben-Sharar, PH.d. McGraw Hill, 2007, (pg.139-140)



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