The Positive Psychology in Canada program will give students the opportunity to explore the emerging field of Positive Psychology. Psychologists have traditionally treated mental illness from a perspective of repairing damaged habits, damaged drives, damaged childhoods, and damaged brains. This new way of thinking will gives students the opportunity to explore areas such as strengths, optimism, happiness, hope, and resiliency. Positive psychology focuses on the promotion of well-being and happiness.


 An exploration of the emerging field of positive psychology. Psychologists have traditionally treated mental illness from a perspective of repairing damaged habits, damaged drives, damaged childhoods, and damaged brains. Yet, Psychology also studies strengths, optimism, happiness, hope, and resiliency. Positive psychology focuses on the promotion of well-being and happiness. Occasionally, guest lecturers will present to the class. The following topics will be covered:

  • What is positive psychology?
  • Positive emotions
  • Happiness and well-being
  • Positive thinking and mindfulness
  • Character strengths and virtues
  • Identify boxes
  • Physical health and wellness
  • Interventions
  • Positive environments 
  • Positive interpersonal relationship

Vancouver Island University

 VIU's Nanaimo campus lies on the lower slopes of Mt. Benson and offers views overlooking the city of Nanaimo, the Straits of Georgia, the Gulf Islands and the mountains of the Coast Range on the mainland. The campus is located on Fifth Street and easily accessed off the Island Parkway, which passes by its western perimeter.

VIU’s infrastructure is built to accommodate today’s modern day student:

  • wireless internet access is available throughout the campus
  • food service outlets are open throughout the day on most days of the week
  • student lounges are located in most buildings
  • security officials are on-campus and available 24/7 

Instructor Information

Lead Lecturer - Professor Deborah Hunt Matheson
Professor Deborah Hunt Matheson is Chair of the Department of Psychology at Vancouver Island University, Director of the Behavioural Medicine Lab and Co-Director of the Positive Psychology Lab. Her research interests are in health psychology and she is particularly interested in wellness. Much of her research is related to exercise psychology and factors that motivate people to commit to an exercise program. Recently, she co-founded the Positive Psychology Laboratory where she is overseeing research on the topic of Grit. Her research has been published in journals such as Behavioral Medicine; the British Journal of Health Psychology; the Canadian Journal of Communication; the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior; the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology; Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science; Psychology and Health; Psychology, Health and Medicine; and the Psychology of Sport and Exercise. She is co-author in all 5 editions of The Psychology of Health and Health Care: A Canadian Perspective and has just signed on to become a co-author of the 6th Canadian edition of Psychology: Themes and Variations.

Professor Lindsay McCunn
Dr. Lindsay McCunn is a Professor of psychology at Vancouver Island University and the Director of the Environmental Psychology Research Lab. Lindsay also serves as Chair for the Environmental Psychology section of the Canadian Psychology Association. Her research concerning sense of place, organizational commitment, and other psychosocial constructs has been published in interdisciplinary journals, such as Cities, Architectural Science Review, the Journal of Energy Research and Social Science, the Journal of Management in Engineering, the Journal of Library Administration, the Seniors Housing & Care Journal, and the Health Environments Research & Design Journal. She has also authored book chapters about research methods and presented her research at international conferences. Lindsay is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Environmental Psychology and the Commissioning Editor for the journal Cities and Health.

Students will participate in a number of relevant fields trips and activities, focusing on the many elements related to positive psychology (mind, body, environment, etc.). Half-day trips and activities include kayaking, hiking, yoga and meditation, an art class, a trip to Wildplay, and participation in a wild edible plants workshop. Longer day trips include a Nanaimo “Happy Spots” tour, a visit to Saysutshun Island, and a visit and tour of Saltspring Island.

 In addition to the trips and activities outlined above, students will also participate in one regional day trip each Saturday with the Cultural Connections program. Tentative trips scheduled for July 2019 include a visit to beautiful Victoria (BC’s capital city), a trip to Tofino on Canada’s rugged west coast, and a mid-island tour, including a visit to the beautiful beaches in Parksville and the quaint town of Qualicum Beach. Cultural Connections trips are open to all VIU students.

In addition to the above day trip, participants will have full complimentary access to the VIU Gymnasium with their VIU Identification Card. Participants may choose to use the fitness equipment, or to drop-in and play basketball, volleyball, or other court sports. 

Western Student Housing Ltd., the management company in charge of VIU Residences (located on the Nanaimo campus), is pleased to accommodate participants of this program. Participants will be placed in private, single rooms, with semi-private bathrooms and common kitchens and lounges. Some meals will be provided, and linens and two sets of towels will be delivered to each room (linens and towels will be replaced once per week). 


It's 2011. I'm 18 years old, straight out of high school and into uni. It's a couple of weeks in and I'm sitting in the uni's International Office at lunchtime to find out more about how I can study overseas. Three minutes in and it's becoming overwhelming very, VERY quickly. The cost, the lengthy application process, the organisation of everything (from finding my own accommodation to picking my own classes that match exactly with the subjects in my current degree) forced me to realise that I definitely wasn't ready for my overseas study adventure just yet... 

3 years later, I'm in my second last semester of my communications degree and I discover that overseas short-term study experiences are possible, and it really sounded too good to be true! Spending three weeks in America studying social media and marketing from expert professors in their field, visiting and networking with companies, whilst being immersed in American college life sounded like an absolute dream to me! Thanks to AIM Overseas, it was all possible! 


So, if you're tossing up between an exchange or a short term overseas study experience, here is what I've learnt about why you should consider a short-term experience:


1. It's financially a great choice if you can't afford exchange
2. You can work it around your current commitments
3. You can still absorb a whole damn lot in 3-4 weeks
4. It still looks AMAZING on your resume
5. It's a great way to get outside of your comfort zone... but not too far out


Vancouver Island University (VIU) is located in the city of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, off the west coast of beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Just over 460 kilometres long and 80 kilometers wide, Vancouver Island is the largest island on the West Coast of North America and is blessed with beautiful beaches, mountains, temperate rainforests, freshwater lakes, and rolling farmland. Considered one of the top vacation destinations in Canada, Vancouver Island also has the mildest climate in Canada. With temperatures ranging from 20 to 25 degrees Celsius in the summer months and 0 to 10 degrees Celsius in the winter months, Vancouver Island is known for its accessibility to year-round outdoor pursuits, including hiking, kayaking, surfing, mountain biking, caving, rock climbing, whale watching, camping, and much more. As an added bonus, skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing activities are also available in the winter months by driving a short distance to the popular Mount Washington Ski Resort just 1.5 hours north of Nanaimo.

The City of Nanaimo is home to over 90,000 residents and is considered a mid-size city by Canadian standards, yet still offers all of the amenities and services that one would expect in a major city. With numerous public recreational facilities, shopping malls, banks, grocery stores, restaurants, public parks, art galleries, wineries, outdoor attractions, and local markets, visitors to Nanaimo find that there is always something to see or do. In addition, visitors can choose to attend one of the many public festivals, sports competitions, or multicultural events that are held throughout the year, showcasing Nanaimo’s commitment to a safe and caring community and highlighting devoted community partners.

Nanaimo is close to Vancouver, Victoria, and Seattle, and is truly accessible and central. Due to this, visitors can easily travel to Nanaimo by air or sea.


All our programs are designed to count for credit as electives. However, it is up to your university to decide whether they will approve some credit for your participation in one of our programs. Normally it is a course convenor, Head of Department or program convenor who approves your credit.

Your course convenors will not be able to approve credit for a course unless you have a copy of the syllabus so you should not visit your course convenor until you have received a copy of the course syllabus from AIM Overseas. You will receive the syllabus upon being assessed as eligible for the program.

For more information, see our Credit and Funding pages.


You might be able to obtain the $6000+ OS-HELP loan, as well as a scholarship from your university, when participating in an AIM Overseas program.

Our programs are designed so that eligible Australian students can access the OS-HELP scheme, which can provide funding of over $6,000 for international study experiences.

We give you detailed information about OS-HELP and how to apply for it in your Initial Consultation with us, which we further outline in an email following your Initial Consultation. 

You can also find more information about OS-HELP on our Credit and Funding pages.

Many Australian universities offer scholarships for their students to take part in overseas study programs. We will provide you information on scholarships that we are aware of at your university as part of your application/acceptance for a program. You can also check your university’s international office webpage to see what might be offered.

Applications are currently closed for this program.
However, applications for our Summer 2020 programs are now open, check out our January 2020 programs. Alternatively, you can REGISTER YOUR INTEREST for a July 2020 program, meaning you’ll receive more program info and updates. You’ll also be notified when applications for the July intake are open!

The application process for this program are as follows:

1. Apply online via the “Apply Now” button or by clicking this link.

2. You’ll be prompted to send us a copy of your full academic results from your studies at university so far after submitting your application.

3. We’ll review your university results and application and, if you are eligible for the program, we will invite you to book an initial consultation by phone with one of our Student Experience Coordinators. You will also be sent the course syllabus with more program info.

4. You’ll pay our $55 application fee and book in your phone consultation at a suitable, available time with a Student Experience Coordinator.

5. The phone consultation lasts about 20-30 minutes and we’ll cover detailed information with you about credit, funding, the program, your application and what happens next.

6. After your consultation we’ll send you a follow-up email with instructions on what to do next, an invitation to join a program specific Facebook group to connect with other students applying for the program and a process document, which we have developed in conjunction with your Australian university, to guide you on how to apply for credit and funding.

7. Once you’ve completed the next steps in that follow-up email we’ll do a final review of your application. If all is in order, you’ll be accepted onto the program.

8. Upon acceptance, you will receive three emails containing your AIM Acceptance letter, steps for applying for credit and funding at your Australian University, as well as your downpayment invoice. Note: Your downpayment is due in two weeks from the date of your acceptance and secures your place on the program.

9. Once you’ve paid your downpayment, your application will be sent to the host university for them to process and review and they’ll send us your final official host university acceptance letter which we will send to you.

10. The full program fee (as shown on the website) minus the downpayment and application fee already paid, will be due at the absolute latest by 6th May 2019.

Programs are usually over-subscribed, so it is really important that you take care of things as quickly as possible. We’re here to help and will provide you with information and reminders about what you need to do at various stages.

For more information, see our Frequently Asked Questions. Alternatively, you are welcome to submit an enquiry or register your interest. Registering your interest means you’ll receive updates (via email and phone) prior to the application deadline.