Meet the Courage Scholars (Agata Rucinska)

Courage Scholarship / Post Traumatic Growth / Professional Research / Violence

Agata is a trained translator and linguist. Born and raised in a Polish military family, she found a new home in Estonia. An experienced youth mentor and teacher; a mental health first aider and journal therapist. In her leisure time she enjoys reading romance novels and ballet.


How did your journey in Positive Psychology begin?

I’ve stumbled into Positive Psychology by pure chance thanks to Sam Dylan Finch (go follow @SamDylanFinch on Twitter!). His blog about queer mental health ( has been a source of wisdom, encouragement and solace so when he mentioned he got trained as a positive psychology practitioner that got me curious. In a way I’ve been working with the concept of character strengths empowerment and developing virtues for a while now when leading youth groups and training other volunteers to do the same. I remembered all of those times when friends told me I would make a good therapist or a life coach. The idea of becoming a “mental health doula” resonated with me.

From there it was a quick Google search and I stumbled upon the Positive Psychology Guild, sent an email with a scholarship application and here we are 🙂 The best spontaneous decision of my life!


Why did you apply for the Courage Scholarship?

Why and how does the theme of Violence & Post Traumatic Growth interest you?

As a survivor myself, I felt called to serve queer folks who have experienced trauma. I’ve heard too many horror stories of therapists not being equipped to work with my community. At the same time, I recognise I ought to systematise, expand and deepen my knowledge first before working with clients in order not to do harm.

Being keenly aware of the urgent need for compassionate mental health support for marginalised communities in Eastern Europe and how the pandemic exacerbated this problem, I simply couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore. Given my financial situation, I couldn’t afford to go back to school full time so this scholarship is a blessing.


What are you most looking forward to on the scholarship?

Connecting with fellow Courage Scholars and building a mutual support network with them where we can encourage each other and share knowledge. Having a community of like minded people who are thinking about similar topics as I am and asking similar questions is so valuable and motivating.


The Courage Scholarship for Violence and Post Traumatic Growth is funded by the PPG Scholarship Fund as a priority research area. Four positions were awarded for the period, 2020-2022 and two for 2021-2022. The six Courage Scholars are each tasked with researching the relevance and possibilities for application of Positive Psychology to post-traumatic growth in situations of violence, conflict, and crime.

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