Focus on strengths

Focus on strengths: Recovery-oriented practice involves an orientation of services towards a positive approach that emphasises and builds on people's strengths. This is in contrast to a deficit-based outlook that highlights problems and needs. Strengths-based practice focuses on supporting and building people's strengths, resources, resilience and ability to manage their life.

  • Core principles
    • Recovery-oriented mental health care focuses on people's strengths, resources, skills and assets.
    • In promoting people's wellbeing, mental health services support people to build their confidence, strengths, resourcefulness and resilience.
  • Key capabilities

    Mental health professionals

    • work with people to identify, utilise and build on their strengths, resourcefulness and resilience
    • work with people to support and sustain their existing resources, assets, networks and relationships
    • facilitate people's self-management of their mental health
    • acknowledge and value people's strengths and resilience
    • utilise strengths-based approaches to support people's recovery
    • are able to support people to further develop their resilience
    • develop their knowledge of strengths-based approaches to support people in their recovery
  • Good practice
    • Ask people about their strengths, what they have done well and what they have found easy.
    • Use enquiry that emphasises solutions to situations rather than just the problems.
    • Assist people to tap into existing strengths and resilience by considering what has worked well for them in the past.
    • Encourage self-sufficiency in accordance with people's wishes and goals.
    • Assist people and their significant others to assess their own needs and to choose how those needs are met.
    • Celebrate people's successes and achievements.
    • In history taking and reflections with the person, include recognition of areas of functioning where there are no problems and times in their lives when they did cope well.
    • Emphasise successes and achievements prominently at first contact.
    • Encourage clients to take personality strengths that are causing problems in one area and use them to improve functioning in another (for example, a young client can find drugs at any time in any part of town – can that tenacity and resourcefulness be focused on obtaining housing?).
    • Remind people of how they have overcome adversity already.
    • Support people to approach new challenges or to revisit old challenges.
  • Good leadership
    • Review local policies and procedures to incorporate strengths-based approaches.
    • Create opportunities for people to exercise and build on their strengths (for example, if someone's good at writing, create a newsletter for them or find other newsletters they could contribute to).
    • Foster a willingness within the organisation and workforce to try new things and support people to give new things a go.
    • Model a responsiveness to people's strengths, not only with people accessing the service but also within teams and the broader organisation by creating new activities based on team members' strengths (for example, create an opportunity for staff to practise their particular skills for the benefit of the organisation; make the most of times of good staffing to incorporate a new activity).
    • Find ways to encourage peer support within the organisation.

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