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What makes the Crusaders so tough?

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Mental health workers study what makes the Crusaders so tough

How can the Crusaders be such champions in a time of such stress?

In February, the deadly Christchurch earthquake made AMI Stadium - their home stadium - unusable.

The team endured thousands of nerve-racking aftershocks that disturbed their sleep and sapped their energy. And they had to play every game of the season away from their home ground.

Yet they went on to make it to the Super 15 rugby final, in a display of resilience that stunned not just rugby fans, but anyone who was watching.

How did they do it?

That will be among the topics of discussion when the New Zealand Association of Positive Psychology holds its first annual conference in Auckland in September.

Attracting psychologists, therapists, counsellors and other mental health workers from around New Zealand, the conference will look at why and how some people thrive and prosper during adversity, while others wilt or crumble.

Speakers will present on issues such as:

Do mobile apps claiming to make you happier actually work?

How to make adolescence a time of exciting growth - not years of turmoil and anguish

How employers and employees affect each other's wellbeing

And how positive psychology can help the people of Christchurch recover from its tragic earthquakes.

"Positive psychology is a relatively new school of psychology that has profound implications for all of New Zealand," says association president Dr Aaron Jarden.

"It holds the key to improving relationships, business performance and even sporting performance.

"Instead of studying why people become mentally unwell, like traditional psychology, we study what it is that successful, happy people do that makes them successful and happy. We rigorously test all hypotheses scientifically, and develop proven, robust methods for improving wellbeing and happiness."

Conference presenter Jamie Ford of the Foresight Institute said the Crusaders were a perfect example of what could be achieved through Positive Psychology.

Over the past three years, Ford has worked with the Canterbury Rugby Football Union and the Crusaders to develop and implement a resilience programme for the team.

"They have totally integrated Positive Psychology and resilient thinking to their culture, to the extent that not even earthquakes and destruction can stop them from achieving their goals," he said.

The New Zealand Positive Psychology Association conference will be held at the AUT Akoranga Campus, on September 9-10.

It is sponsored by The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, AUT University, the University of Auckland, the Mental Health Foundation and the Foresight Institute. Registrations are open at www.positivepsychology.org.nz/conference

Ends


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