Lea Waters, PhD

Lea offers her audience a unique blend of science and practice. As a leading positive psychology researcher and president-elect of the International Positive Psychology Association, Lea is deeply active in the science. Her warm, personal style, practical way of thinking combined with her extensive work with schools and parents worldwide means her audiences find her science real and practices actionable. Lea's teachings have resonated all over the world: United States, Canada, Mexico, Amsterdam, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand and South Africa. 

Strength-Based Teaching

Bringing Out the Best in Students & Teachers

Three decades of research clearly shows the advantages of taking a strength-based approach for students, including greater levels of happiness at school, higher student engagement, smoother transitions from kindergarten to elementary school, more successful adjustment from elementary to middle school, and higher levels of academic achievement.  Research also shows benefits for teachers who learn how to identify and utilize their own strengths. Great teachers understand that a weakness, if not interfering with their teaching, is not worth wasting their time to improve – instead this time is best spent amplifying their natural talents to become the best teacher possible. Lea Waters PhD weaves together her science with concrete examples and best practices to provide the audience with the compelling case for adopting a strengths approach in schools.

Audience take aways:

  • Key research findings that clearly links strengths to wellbeing and academic achievement;

  • Best practices for introducing strengths into the classroom

  • Practical methods for how to embed strengths into the staffroom.

Strength-Based Parenting

Small Shifts Can Make a Positive Difference in Your Kids

Lea ’s research shows that parents can build inner resilience in their kids by using the science of Strength-Based Parenting (SBP) to help their children to see and use their own strengths to navigate life’s challenges. In this presentation, based her on book, The Strength Switch: How the New Science of Strength-Based Parenting Can Help Your Child and Your Teen To Flourish, Lea helps parents steer themselves away from negativity and criticism by offering a scientifically proven strength-based approach to parenting. She shares positive psychology tips parents can use to cultivate their child’s inherent strengths. Parents leave motivated to make changes immediately after Lea shares that this small shift in approach can help their children build resilience, optimism and achievement.

After attending parents will be able to:

  • Recognize three elements that make up a true strength to more easily and consistently discover talents in children;

  • Use specific techniques to deal with problem-behaviours in more constructive ways; and

  • Interact with kids using positive emotions to deal with difficult situations and emotions.

Positive Psychology in Schools

Positive Education Boosts Wellbeing & Achievement

In this presentation, Lea Waters PhD shares the trends, evidence and advancements occurring in the rapidly growing field of positive education. And, she’ll share her extensive research which not only confirms the beneficial impact of positive psychology programs on student wellbeing and achievement but also on staff. Having helped schools to implement positive education in Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Hong Kong and China, Lea Waters PhD weaves together her science with concrete school examples and best practices to provide the audience with the compelling case for adopting positive education in schools.

Audience take aways:

  • Key research findings that clearly links wellbeing and academic achievement;

  • Best practices for introducing and taking the journey to practicing positive education in their school; and

  • Practical methods for how to embed positive education into the classroom.

Build a Visible Wellbeing™ Culture in Your School

Schools across the world are aiming to turn wellbeing policy into practice. To address this problem Lea Waters PhD, a trained psychologist and positive psychology expert, designed Visible Wellbeing™ which combines the science of wellbeing with the science of learning to make wellbeing visible in all classes and across co-curricula. In this presentation, Lea shares the Visible Wellbeing tool kit of flexible wellbeing practices that go beyond traditional wellbeing programs. She provides techniques that help teachers to use the learning process itself as a delivery mechanism to build student wellbeing. Visible Wellbeing aims to help everyone thrive at school and the training and techniques shared are equally relevant to staff, teaching, non-teaching, and parents as they are to students as a way to build a culture of wellbeing across the entire school. Lea weaves together her science with concrete school best practices to provide the audience with the compelling case for adopting a Visible Wellbeing approach in schools.

Audience take aways:

  • Knowledge of techniques that help teachers to use the learning process itself as a delivery mechanism to build student wellbeing;

  • Able to help students and staff to more clearly see their own and other’s wellbeing using Visible Wellbeing practices;

  • Understand how to use the SEARCH framework to help students and staff more systematically build wellbeing; and

  • Facilitate learning through the visible wellbeing classroom process.

Taking a Strengths Approach to the School Journey

Lea’s Signature Topic for Students

Lea Waters, PhD, shares with students how they can take a strengths-based approach to dealing with the common stress of school. Students will discover how the school journey can be a positive one by taking a Growth Mindset to help grow life skills for the future; and that the point of school isn't just about growing their grade point average. Students will also learn to identify stress and understand their body's stress response to enable a proactive approach to the management of stress and normalize the often-felt feelings of overwhelm.

This presentation looks at how students can leverage their unique Character Strengths to assist with better studying, retention of information and maintaining wellbeing during this journey, in addition to looking at gratitude in particular which has been shown to help buffer against stress.

After attending, students will be able to:

  • Understand the Fight/Flight/Freeze Response and how to identify stress;

  • Understand Growth Mindset;

  • Know how to utilize Character Strengths to help with studying, wellbeing and buffering against stress.

Strength-Based Parenting for Kids on the Spectrum

How Small Shifts Can Make a Big Difference

Parents with kids on the spectrum are all too familiar with being told about the deficits and challenges their children face. Yet, what happens when we consider the upside that comes along with having a different neurotype? Like all kids, those along the spectrum have both strengths and weaknesses – the two don’t cancel each other out. Building up strengths can occur at the same time as we work with challenges. The problems and differences for kids on the spectrum don’t negate the many strengths these children have and yet it is typical for schools, psychologists and others to focus on the negative.

 Strength-based parenting is an approach that helps parents see the upside, it provides a new way to see and enable kids along the spectrum and to build happy, peaceful family dynamics. By intentionally seeing and building strengths in your children (and yourself) you:

  • Can focus on the positives and thus, put the negative into perspective;

  • Build off the confidence of your child;

  • See the big picture;

  • Use strengths to help overcome challenges;

  • Connect your child with people who have similar strengths and passions; and

  • Breathe a sigh of relief and see a positive pathway forward.