Original Research

Valuing and adapting appreciative inquiry to enhance well-being using a neuropsychotherapeutic framework

Dirk J. Geldenhuys
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 46 | a1823 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v46i0.1823 | © 2020 Dirk J. Geldenhuys | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 June 2020 | Published: 10 December 2020

About the author(s)

Dirk J. Geldenhuys, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

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Orientation: Considering the impact of the unprecedented worldwide changes on employee well-being; well-being will increasingly become a competitive edge for organisations. The focus of this study was on appreciative inquiry (AI) as intervention for well-being; to hypothesise why and under what circumstances AI could be effective, and what can be performed to enhance its effectiveness, especially in respect of improving the well-being of employees.

Research purpose: The purpose of this study was to valuate and refine AI as an intervention aimed at facilitating well-being in the workplace, using a neuropsychotherapeutic approach as framework.

Motivation for the study: Appreciative inquiry is well known in the management and organisational sciences as an approach and a method to facilitate change. Despite the importance of well-being for organisations, in the academic literature, reporting on the use of AI as an intervention to facilitate well-being remains largely limited. Furthermore, no evidence of a similar study using a neuropsychoterapeutic framework could be found in the English literature.

Research approach/design and method: This was a conceptual analysis with theory adaption as an approach. Appreciative inquiry was chosen as a domain theory and neuropsychotherapy as a method theory. Firstly, AI was discussed, after which the focus fell on neuropsychotherapy with the focus on well-being. Neuropsychotherapy was then used to evaluate and refine AI as an intervention directed at well-being.

Main findings: It was found that neuropsychotherapy served as a valuable method theory to refine AI for enhancing well-being.

Practical/managerial implications: Appreciative inquiry in its more traditional form can be used to facilitate employee well-being in general but will probably be less effective in changing hard-wired neural circuits for the better. For employees who experience high levels of stress, a refinement of AI is needed, in line with neuropsychotherapy.

Contribution/value add: This study contributed to the literature on well-being interventions.


appreciative inquiry; memory systems; neural networks; neuropsychotherapy; well-being; interventions; organisations.


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