What Is a Strength-Based Approach? (Incl. Examples & Tools)

What is a strength-based approachWhen you consider the word “strength,” what comes to mind? Hold on to that for a moment.

For me, “strength” makes me think of words like “sturdy,” “solid,” and, conversely, “weak.”

I also think of my personal strengths. For example, a person can believe their strengths are patience, optimism, and persistence.

In this article, we will be reviewing strength-based approaches in positive psychology. The strength-based approach focuses on the positive attributes of a person or a group, rather than the negative. There are multiple ways the strength-based approach can be applied, including in leadership, counseling, community and social work, and pediatrics.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Strengths Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients realize your unique potential and create a life that feels energized and authentic.

What Is the Strength-Based Approach?

With its foundation in social work, the strength-based approach is a “work practice theory” that focuses on an individual’s self-determination and strength (McCashen, 2005).

This type of approach builds on clients’ strengths, seeing them as resourceful and resilient when they are in adverse conditions (McCashen, 2005). It is also client led and centered on outcomes, getting people to affect change in themselves.

Change happens depending on how each person handles their own:

  • Attitudes about their dignity
  • Capacities
  • Rights
  • Quirks
  • Similarities

The strength-based approach is centered around the idea that the client is the actor or agent of change. The approach is highly dependent on how the individual processes their thoughts and emotions. It allows for open communication, encouraging individuals to identify value and assemble their strengths and capacities.

The strength-based approach allows a person to see themselves at their best – the value they bring by just being themselves. They are encouraged to capitalize on their strengths rather than focus on negative characteristics.

The strength-based approach examines not only the individual, but also their environment; for example, how systems are set up or power imbalances between a system or service and the people it is supposed to serve.

In addition, the strength-based approach identifies constraints that might be holding back an individual’s growth. These constraints might be social, personal, and/or cultural issues (McCashen, 2016).

Rapp et al. (2008) suggested six standards for identifying a strengths-based approach (below). You can use this list when considering if the strength-based approach might be a good fit for your practice.

  1. Goal orientation: It is crucial and vital for the client to set goals.
  2. Strengths assessment: The client finds and assesses their strengths and inherent resources.
  3. Resources from the environment: Connect resources in the client’s environment that can be useful or enable them to create links to these resources. The resources could be individuals, associations, institutions, or groups.
  4. Different methods are used first for different situations: In solution-focused therapy, clients will determine goals first and then strengths. In strengths-based case management, individuals first determine their strengths using an assessment.
  5. The relationship is hope inducing: Hope is encouraged through finding strengths and linking to connections (with other people, communities, or culture).
  6. Meaningful choice: Each person is an expert on their own strengths, resources, and hopes. It is the practitioner’s duty to improve upon the choices the client makes and encourage informed decisions.

Principles of the Strength-Based Approach

There are nine guiding principles that serve as the foundation of the strength-based approach (Hammond, 2010).

  1. Everyone possesses a uniqueness that helps them evolve and move along their journey. These characteristics may include potential strengths and capabilities.
  2. What receives attention or focus becomes what the client strives for and, eventually, a reality.
  3. Be careful with your words and language. Our language creates our reality.
  4. Accept change. Life and our world are ever evolving; don’t resist.
  5. Support others as authentically as you can. You will see that your relationships are deeper and more meaningful.
  6. The client is the storyteller of their own story.
  7. Build upon what you know and experience to dream of the future.
  8. Capacity building has multiple facets and organizations. Be flexible.
  9. Be collaborative. Be adaptive and value differences.
The strengths based approach - experiencing success in meaningful ways

4 Examples of a Strength-Based Approach

Let’s review some examples of a strength-based approach.

  1. In the corporate world, many human resources managers conduct performance reviews. These reviews hopefully benefit the employees, their supervisors, and the overall flow of the organization. Some of the key benefits can be improved performance, communication opportunities, and data on decision-making (Coens & Jenkins, 2000).
  2. Each of us encounters difficulty at some point in life. In crisis mode, the last thing we may want to think about is our strengths. However, when these trying situations arise, we need help in identifying our strengths. It is vital for healthcare professionals working with people going through crises to listen and identify strengths and resources.
  3. For certain clients, pursuing support and attending an appointment is a big task, and it should be recognized as a strength. For instance, if you are helping someone who does not have safe and secure housing, it may be important to empower them to build strong relationships with their family and friends. Another great way to empower your clients is to remind them to utilize their resources, resilience, and strength to tackle any challenges.
  4. A great part of going through this conversation is that people’s strengths will crop up. It becomes natural for the client to share their strengths, and when reflecting back to the client, it can be helpful to acknowledge and validate those strengths.

Download 3 Free Strengths Exercises (PDF)

These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you or your clients with tools to discover and harness their unique strengths.

Using the Approach in Counseling

Positive psychotherapy may include a strength-based approach, where the practitioner focuses on the strengths and resourcefulness of their client, rather than their weaknesses, deficits, or failures (Basic Counseling Skills, n.d.).

This helps the client build a mindset focused on positive capacity building and helps them understand that they are resilient, leading to more reasonable expectations of themselves and others (Basic Counseling Skills, n.d.).

Strength-based therapy is a form of talk therapy where the client is the storyteller. The story may include trauma, pain, and stressors from the past or present. The practitioner encourages the client to have the mindset of a survivor rather than a victim. Doing so can give the client a better understanding of and control over their skills and strengths (Basic Counseling Skills, n.d.). These skills and strengths enable them to survive and flourish no matter how tough life gets.

What Are the Benefits of This Approach?

Hammond (2010) offers the following list of benefits of the strength-based approach.

  • Focusing on strengths rather than problems offers the client control and a new mindset.
  • The client’s resilience and overall function in their family and community are improved.
  • The strength-based approach offers a shared language and philosophy.
  • Resilience is the goal, which offers the client a theoretical map to follow for prevention and evaluation.
  • Intervention tactics are client driven and relationship minded.
  • Distressed people are engaged with respect and compassion.
  • The approach respects that it takes time to build clients’ capacities.
  • The approach sees people as creating and rebuilding, rather than broken or failing.
  • With improved resilience come additional benefits, including feeling special, valued, and optimistic, and understanding that life is a journey.
  • Clients learn how to set goals and expectations, cope in a healthy way that fosters growth, and confront rather than avoid challenges.
  • The approach doesn’t ignore vulnerabilities or weaknesses.
  • The approach builds self-esteem and competence.
  • Clients learn effective interpersonal skills in order to look for assistance and support when needed.
  • Clients better understand what can and cannot be controlled.
  • Clients are better able to support others, giving time to those that they care about.
  • The approach encourages clients to connect to social support like family or community to nurture their growth.

Are There Any Disadvantages to the Model?

Some consider the main focus of the strength-based approach to be its primary disadvantage. Dr. Jason Jones (2017) explains this very well by asserting that while it’s great to focus on strengths, we should not utterly neglect weaknesses. If weaknesses are poorly managed, they may not be monitored, leaving the person less effective.

Jones is not the only one to carefully and constructively point out some flaws in the method. Other researchers (e.g., McMillen et al., 2004; Staudt et al., 2001) have claimed that the strength-based approach is not really offering anything novel, nor is it based on evidence of efficacy.

Can It Improve Mental Health?

The strengths-based approach can improve mental health, but only if it is fully embraced.

The most important factor in determining whether the approach is effective is the client. Crucially, this approach can still be effective for clients with mental health issues, as it has a strong focus on recovery and positive psychology (Peterson & Seligman, 2004).

A Look at Strength-Based Interventions

strength-based interventions

There are quite a few strength-based interventions designed for different types of clients or groups.

For example, some approaches are better for individuals, associations, organizations, or other communities (Foot & Hopkins, 2010).

The practice of using the strengths-based approach is ever-evolving and has many configurations (Foot & Hopkins, 2010). For instance, practitioners may use a single method or a combination, depending on the individual client’s needs (Pattoni, 2012).

Some examples of the strength-based approach in practice are below.

Solution-focused therapy (SFT)

As its name suggests, SFT focuses on solutions rather than problems. SFT and solution-focused brief therapy have been used in a variety of settings, including family service, mental health, public social services, child welfare, prison, residential treatment centers, schools, and hospitals (Miller et al., 1996).

You can find a list of SFT techniques and worksheets here.

Strengths-based case management

Like all applications of the strength-based approach, strength-based case management focuses on the individual’s strengths. Importantly, it involves the following three principles:

  1. Utilization of informal support networks
  2. Solid community involvement by case managers
  3. A solid relationship between the client and case manager

Strengths-based case management has been utilized in a diversity of fields and populations, including substance abuse, mental health, school counseling, elderly care, children, and young families (Rapp et al., 2008).


Practitioners can use narrative to get the client to tell a story, teasing apart the client’s strengths and resilience skills. The basis of this method is that we each live our lives based on our experiences or our story. However, we often forget that we are the main actor and that we have many strengths.

Our problems are separate from us; when a person can learn to separate themselves from their problems, they learn how to face it and build resilience (Epston et al., 1992).

Family support services

Family support services aim to support the family when there are dangerous issues that can affect the child’s welfare. Family support services work to empower and connect the family as a team or unit so that they have the same end goal: being together (Green et al., 2004).

Interesting Studies

A strong and suitable critique for the strength-based approach is that there is a lack of strong supporting evidence (Lietz, 2009). However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any. More and more evidence is showing the real effects of the strength-based approach.

Strength-based approach and improving social connections

Foot and Hopkins (2010) found that there is power in support. Supportive communities that develop strength-based approaches in their services and functions can empower their residents.

Foot and Hopkins (2010) also found that when you cheer people on or encourage them to be proud of their achievements and contributions, their confidence increases. Further, people who are more confident in their ability add more to the community.

Gilchrist (2009) also notes the importance of communities networking with each other. This helps individuals and families build their community even wider. The wider community allows for an increase in resilience, which then improves wellbeing and quality of life.

The strength-based approach is also used in the family justice research realm. Shapiro et al. (n.d.) found that this approach can reduce drug use, rates of arrest, and conviction, and increase the level of social functioning for an individual.

Utilizing the strength-based approach, case managers are able to make lasting effects on individuals. The case managers aren’t really the main actors; it’s actually the individual’s community or network who make the biggest impact (Shapiro et al., n.d.).

Networks can have a larger impact on an individual because they “can provide unparalleled insight into the strengths, talents, and challenges of a loved one, as well as advice about how best to connect with that individual” (Shapiro et al., n.d., p. 20).

Strength-based approach and enhancing wellbeing

A pilot study conducted by Ralph et al. (1996) looked at the effect of the strength-based approach on the hope of people with severe mental illness.

The participants were asked to select and define factors they thought were needed for recovery. The most important elements identified included the ability to have hope and developing trust in one’s own thoughts and judgments (Ralph et al., 1996).

Smock et al. (2008) and Park et al. (2004) found that using the strength-based approach helps individuals develop and maintain a strong sense of wellbeing. People who can find hope and inspiration using their strengths have a stronger sense of wellbeing (Smock et al., 2008).

The Clifton StrengthsFinder

Many of us have taken or administered personality tests to help gain insight into who we are. One such widely regarded test is the Clifton StrengthsFinder, which focuses specifically on strengths.

American psychotherapist Donald Clifton developed the Clifton StrengthsFinder after many years in social work, counseling psychology, positive psychology, solution-focused therapy, and narrative therapy (Buckingham & Clifton, 2001).

The StrengthsFinder assessment helps you or your client to:

  1. Discover what you naturally do best
  2. Learn how to develop your greatest talents
  3. Use your customized results to live your best life

Values in Action Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS)

Peterson et al.’s (2005) self-report questionnaire, the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS) “measures 24 widely valued character strengths.

In progress toward creating the VIA-IS, Peterson and Seligman (2004) created a handbook to focus on the positive aspects of an individual, which they informally dubbed the “Manual of the Sanities.” The handbook focuses on human strengths rather than weaknesses or pathologies (Ruch et al., 2010).

Peterson and Seligman (2004) classified six universal virtues and 24 character strengths (along with 10 criteria for a positive trait to be included as a character strength).

Dahlsgaard et al. (2005) found those core virtues of courage, justice, humanity, temperance, wisdom, and transcendence to be rooted in their research of philosophy and spirituality writings from China, South Asia, and the West.

Peterson and Seligman (2004) defined character strengths as the processes and mechanisms that lead to the virtues. For instance, wisdom (a virtue) can be attained through creativity and curiosity (character strengths).

Table 1. Classification of 6 core virtues and 24 strengths of character (Ruch et al., 2010)

Virtue I. Wisdom and knowledge: cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge

(1) Creativity: thinking of novel and productive ways to do things
(2) Curiosity: taking an interest in all of an ongoing experience
(3) Open-mindedness: thinking things through and examining them from all sides
(4) Love of learning: mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge
(5) Perspective: being able to provide wise counsel to others

Virtue II. Courage: emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external or internal

(6) Bravery: not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain
(7) Persistence: finishing what one starts
(8) Honesty: speaking the truth and presenting oneself in a genuine way
(9) Zest: approaching life with excitement and energy

Virtue III. Humanity: interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others.

(10) Love: valuing close relations with others
(11) Kindness: doing favors and good deeds for others
(12) Social intelligence: being aware of the motives and feelings of self and others

Virtue IV. Justice: civic strengths that underlie a healthy community life

(13) Teamwork: working well as a member of a group or team
(14) Fairness: treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice
(15) Leadership: organizing group activities and seeing that they happen

Virtue V. Temperance: strengths that protect against excess

(16) Forgiveness: forgiving those who have done wrong
(17) Modesty: letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves
(18) Prudence: being careful about one’s choices; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted
(19) Self-regulation: regulating what one feels and does

Virtue VI. Transcendence: strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning

(20) Appreciation of beauty and excellence: noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life
(21) Gratitude: being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen
(22) Hope: expecting the best and working to achieve it
(23) Humor: liking to laugh and joke; bringing smiles to other people
(24) Religiousness: having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of life

The VIA-IS is a helpful tool when trying to understand fully what a person has to offer in a very systematic way.

The VIA-IS does not add up all the strengths assigned to a virtue, and significantly, it is very rare for an individual to display all the strengths a virtue comprises (Peterson & Seligman, 2004).

9 Useful Activities

When dealing with a client, encourage them to lead the conversation and decision-making process.

Use these activities to help along the way (Kate Pascale and Associates, 2019, p. 5):

  • “Work on what’s most important and meaningful to the client (consider their values, motivations, and readiness to change)
  • Ask open-ended questions so the client has the opportunity to tell their story
  • Ask the client what they’d like to get out of your conversation/work together.
  • Encourage the client to share their ideas about possible solutions, opportunities etc.
  • If you’re doing a home visit, actively acknowledge that you’re a guest in the person’s home. Ask them where they’d like to sit and be guided by them. When a client visits your workplace, ask them where they’d be most comfortable sitting etc.
  • Consider the cultural, religious or social groups that the client identifies with and think about how to create a safe and inclusive conversation with the person
  • Utilise your skills of observation and pick up on cues in the home environment to build rapport, improve conversation flow and direct the conversation in meaningful ways.”

A very useful strength-based activity is to write in a gratitude journal.

Here’s how you or your client can start a gratitude journal:

Part one – day end
At the end of the day, list four things that you are grateful for and that went well. They must always be stated in the positive. Here is what I might write down, even on a day where lots of things have gone wrong:

  • Really good cup of coffee at 10 am
  • Rode my bike to work, there and back
  • Watched a YouTube video about a cat that made me laugh and laugh and laugh
  • Hubby made a great salad at suppertime

You don’t have to limit the list to four things – I aim for 10.

Part two – day beginning
Over breakfast, write down four things you’re looking forward to. Again, here is how my list might look, even if my day is likely to be very stressful:

  • Am going to watch a movie tonight
  • Will have a peanut butter and banana sandwich at lunch – yum, yum
  • A colleague and I will have a lunchtime walk
  • Can listen to classical music today while writing (overdue) reports

Another great exercise is called the “peak experience” exercise. It is simple, very motivating, and used by coaches (Driver, 2011).

  1. Ask the coachee to name two or three times when they’ve been at their best. The times they recall can be of any interval of time, from a few minutes to a year.
  2. If needed, specify that “at your best” needs to be something special and meaningful to the coachee and the coachee only. Remind them that this is not a time to impress anyone or to compare themselves and their special moments to anyone. [A great example of this step is when a client “talked about learning to ride a bike, aged 43. For them, this represented courage, perseverance and a commitment to learning – and the fact that many people learn to ride before they start school was irrelevant” (Driver, 2011, p. 19).]
  3. Have the coachee share their experience by recalling in detail exactly what happened from start to end.
  4. Keep track of each example and how it is a possible strength as they are talking.
  5. Once they have told the full story, offer them the list you’ve written and discuss their strengths.

17 Exercises To Discover & Unlock Strengths

Use these 17 Strength-Finding Exercises [PDF] to help others discover and leverage their unique strengths in life, promoting enhanced performance and flourishing.

Created by Experts. 100% Science-based.

16 Strength-Based Questions

“Meaningful questions that will combat the relentless pursuit of pathology, and ones that will help discover hidden strengths that contain the seeds to construct solutions to otherwise unsolvable problems

Graybeal, 2001, p. 235

Here is a list of questions that aim to assess a client’s strengths (Smith, 2017).

  • “What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • What energises you?
  • How would your close friends describe you?
  • Do you most like starting tasks or finishing them?
  • Do you prefer the big picture or the small details?
  • Describe a successful day. What made it successful?
  • What are you good at?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What did you enjoy studying at school or university?
  • When did you achieve something you’re really proud of?
  • What do you enjoy doing the least?
  • Do you find there are enough hours in the day to complete your to-do list?
  • What tasks are always left on your to-do list?
  • How do you stay motivated?
  • How do you feel about deadlines?
  • Have you ever done something differently the second time around?”

Strength-Based Approach Applications

using strength based approach with aged careHow the strength-based approach should be applied in different modalities.

Using the approach in disability and elderly care

Here are some additional questions for those who are disabled or receiving elderly care (Kate Pascale and Associates, 2019, pp. 6–7).

“Exploring the current situation

  • What are you doing / managing well?
  • What are you currently doing independently?
  • What are you feeling good about?
  • What’s working well for you at the moment?
  • What does a good day look like for you? What makes it a good day?

Skills, personal qualities / attributes, knowledge

  • Tell me something you are really proud of.
  • What do you like about yourself?
  • What do you think you do really well?
  • What is something that your friends and family would say you’re great at?
  • What would the people closest to you describe as your superpower?

Exploring interests, hobbies

  • What do you enjoy?
  • What are your interests?
  • How do you like to spend your time?

Support network, community connections

  • Who’s important to you?
  • What connections do you have in your community? (e.g. family, friends, groups, services)
  • What role do you play in the lives of the people you care about?
  • Who supports you in your day-to-day life? In what way?
  • Who can you count on?

Resources (e.g. physical, financial)

  • What resources do you have around you to make this easier?
  • Do you have any equipment, aids or tools that are helpful for you?
  • Is there anything in your environment that you do/can use?

Understand challenges in context

  • Are there times when ‘the problem’ isn’t happening or ‘positive behavior’ does happen? What happens on those days? What does that look like?
  • How have you managed ‘the problem’ until now?

Exploring values and motivation

  • What’s important to you?
  • What are the things in your life that you really value?
  • What would you like to get out of our work together?

Exploring opportunities / strategies

  • What’s worked for you in the past / what have you tried? (e.g. strategies / tools / resources / supports / skills)
  • What strategies have you put in place?
  • How have you adapted?
  • What have you learned so far that could be helpful moving forward?
  • How can we build on where you are now?
  • What’s one thing that you could do to take a step in the right direction?”

These questions allow the social worker or related healthcare professional to understand the experience the client is having at the moment. In addition, they allow for conversation about their environment, needs, and inherent resources and strengths.

A strength-based focus in social work

The key to helping people is to have them recover and then to feel empowered and committed to the change or process that needs to happen (Pulla, 2017). Utilizing the strength-based approach, social workers have found that three pertinent questions have been the most useful in getting the conversation started: “What has worked for you before? What does not work for you? And what might work in the present situation for you?” (Pulla, 2017, p. 97).

Once the conversation has started, four core elements can be expanded on, including (Pulla, 2017, p. 99):

  • “All people have strengths and capacities
  • People can change
  • People change and grow through their strengths and capacities
  • Problems can blind people from noticing their strengths
  • People do have expertise to solve the problem”

“Empowerment theories identify and assist individuals and communities to recognize barriers and dynamics that permit oppression to persist including circumstances and actions that promote change, human empowerment, and liberation.”

Cowger, 1994

Here is a list of questions that social workers can use to direct attention to identify strengths (Saleebey, 2006; Pulla, 2017, p. 108).

  • “Survival questions
    • How have you managed to survive this far given all the challenges you have had to contend with?
  • Support questions
    • Who are the special people on whom you can depend?
  • Exemption questions
    • When things were going well in life, what was different?
  • Possibility questions
    • What are your special talents and abilities?
  • Esteem questions
    • When people say good things about you, what are they likely to say?
  • Perspective questions
    • What are your ideas about your current situation?
  • Change questions
    • What has worked in the past to bring a better life for you?”

The strength-based approach finds a nice home in social work because “the principles of caring and caretaking, nurturing and ensuring that members of our society and our organisations in turn become resilient and hopeful is clearly within the scope of strengths approaches” (Pulla, 2017, p. 100).

Using a strength-based approach in early childhood

Early childhood is such a beautiful time. Children are learning how to do things and what they like. When using the strength-based approach in early childhood, consider the same aspects you would for an adult, pay attention to what the child likes, and offer a variety of ways for the child to learn (Bronfenbrenner, 1994).

A great way for children to develop their strengths is to live expressively. Children can express themselves in all sorts of ways, and this can lend itself well to understanding what someone truly enjoys and is good at (Bronfenbrenner, 1994).

How to use the approach in childcare and preschool

The strength-based approach fits really nicely with childcare and preschool. As every child is different, children have their unique strengths. Using the strength-based approach, early childhood educators are able to fit the curriculum to the child (Bronfenbrenner, 1994).

The strength-based approach falls in line with the ecological model of child development, where children, not the curriculum, are at the center of education. As children are learning and developing, their capabilities, competencies, and strengths and talents are maturing (Bronfenbrenner, 1994).

Because children are constantly developing in multiple learning environments (home and school), their home language and culture should be acknowledged. The child’s home language(s) and culture(s) are meaningful contributors to their development and learning experience (Bronfenbrenner, 1994).

For early childhood professionals who work with children that speak more than one language, recognizing the child’s linguistic abilities is important. Early childhood professionals should support children in preserving their primary language while learning another (Bronfenbrenner, 1994).

In addition, each of us can learn in different ways, and there are certain ways of learning that really speak to us. For children, it is really best to show them that they can learn in multiple ways (Bronfenbrenner, 1994).

Gardner’s (2011) theory of multiple intelligences theorizes that children create meaning by engaging in a variety of methods: linguistic, special, interpersonal, logical-mathematical, etc. Each method offers variety and multiple ways to make learning meaningful and engaging.

It’s really interesting that the strength-based approach molds itself to what is meaningful to the child as well as the practitioner (Bronfenbrenner, 1994). Practitioners who utilize the strength-based approach should practice self-reflection to understand their own values and how their professional practice can affect each child’s unique learning style and strengths (McCashen, 2005).

5 Tips for using it with youth

The following tips, adapted from Hammond & Zimmerman (2012), can be helpful when using a strength-based approach with youth.

  1. Emphasize a positive outcome: Focus on positive and healthy outcomes, like self-confidence, connectedness, and a healthy relationship with family, friends, and the community. Other positive outcomes could be having a strong character and being caring and compassionate.
  2. Youth should be involved in decisions: Youth should be voicing their opinions and reasoning for decisions regarding community care programs.
  3. Long-term involvement teaches sustainment: Youth who can maintain a long-term commitment learn how to create sustainable and supportive relationships and be effective in the long term.
  4. Involve the community: Building on strengths is highly dependent on youth involvement with the community (family, friends, neighborhood etc.).
  5. Emphasize collaboration: Youth need to feel empowered and supported by community collaboration to engage their strengths.

A Take-Home Message

I hope this piece gave you a thorough and complete overview of the strength-based approach and some insightful information. The great thing about the strength-based approach is that it is so relatable when being used, especially when the activities can help pull out these strengths.

If there’s one thing you should take away from this piece, it’s that your strengths have been with you from the very beginning. Sometimes it takes thinking back to when you were a kid, what you were good at, and what you enjoyed to remember your strengths.

Feel free to refer back to this piece if you’re ever feeling like you aren’t good enough or don’t have any skills or traits that make you useful, because you absolutely do. If you find any of this information helpful, please leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading. I wish you the best and hope that you can find your strengths and use them daily — it makes you feel good and it’s energizing.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Strengths Exercises for free.

Frequently Asked Questions

The six key principles of strengths-based practice are (Rapp & Gosha, 2006):

  1. collaboration,
  2. empowerment,
  3. respect,
  4. holistic perspective,
  5. social justice, and
  6. hope.

The 3 elements of strengths-based perspective, according to Sabo & Trudeau (2020) are:

  • Identification and mobilization of strengths
  • Reframing of problems as challenges and opportunities
  • Recognition of client’s expertise in their own life

The four domains of strength-based leadership (Rath & Conchie, 2008) are:

  • relational intelligence,
  • strategic thinking,
  • executing with excellence, and
  • influencing outcomes.
  • Basic Counseling Skills. (n.d.). Strengths based counseling and positive thinking/learned optimism. Retrieved from https://www.basic-counseling-skills.com/strengths-based.html
  • Bronfenbrenner, U. (1994). Ecological models of human development. In International Encyclopedia of Education (vol. 3, 2nd ed.). Elsevier.
  • Buckingham, M., & Clifton, D. O. (2001). Now, discover your strengths. Simon and Schuster.
  • Coens, T., & Jenkins, M. (2000). Abolishing performance appraisals: Why they backfire and what to do instead. Berrett-Koehler.
  • Cowger, C. D. (1994). Assessing client strengths: Clinical assessment for client empowerment. Social Work, 39(3), 262–268.
  • Dahlsgaard, K., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Shared virtue: The convergence of valued human strengths across culture and history. Review of General Psychology, 9(3), 203–213.
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