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Positive Psychology and Restorative Justice



This multi-year, ground breaking project was initiated in January 2013 and it combines theoretical analysis, original fieldwork and social policy development at national and international levels. Its first findings have been published as part of the peer review book "Crime: International Perspectives, Socioeconomic Factors and Psychological Implications", (2014) Nova Science Publishers, USA

The first phase of the project was funded by Buckinghamshire New University It was based on a literature view and aimed to develop a theoretical framework for the application of positive psychology in the context of restorative justice. This has resulted in Gavrielides, T. and Worth, P. (2013). “Another push for restorative justice: Positive psychology & offender rehabilitation” in Crime: International Perspectives, Socioeconomic Factors and Psychological Implications", USA: Nova Science Publishers. An expert panel debate also took place at the IARS Annual Conferencein December 2013.

The second phase is also funded by Buckinghamshire New University and will include fieldwork and pilots with partners such as Khulisa UK, the Centro de Mediación y Arbitraje (Central University of Chile), and the Forgiveness Project.

The research team includes: Theo Gavrielides (Visiting Professor Bucks New Univ and RJ4All Founder.), Matthew Smith(Senior Lecturer Bucks New Univ.) Piers Worth (Head of Academic Department – Psychology Bucks New Univ), Andriana Ntziadima and Ioanna Gouseti, RJ4All Project Officers.

It is intended that the results of this programme will lead to an edited collection of papers to be published in the form of a book in 2015.

Traditionally, criminologists have used psychology to understand and reduce violence by focusing on the negative traits that lead people to crime. This approach is encapsulated in the Risk Need Responsivity (RNR) model of rehabilitation. This approach is failing at practical, policy, political and financial levels internationally. The Good Lives Model (GLM) was recently developed as an alternative approach focusing on nurturing the offender’s personal strengths and goals. This paper will take the next step in deepening the relationship between the GLM and restorative justice. The paper will use the tool of positive psychology to provide a fresh critical analysis of restorative practices, which have recently received much attention by policy makers and politicians. What can restorative justice learn from positive psychology? Is there anything to be gained from this relationship for rehabilitation theories? How can the victim and the community be brought into the rehabilitation debate?


By bringing positive psychology into the restorative justice debate we may be able to generate a much needed normative and practical direction for improved implementation of restorative justice including minimising the risks associated with its delivery as well as increasing the positive effects that we now know it can have on victims, offenders and the community.

During the lifetime of the project it is expected that the following outputs will be achieved: several publications, awareness raising events and educational material.

Ultimately, the project aims to bridge a gap in scientific knowledge while impacting on the ground by informing policy and practice.

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