Principle # 1:
People with psychiatric disabilities can recover, reclaim and transform their lives. Strengths Model practitioners have an unwavering belief in people’s potential to recover. They hold a long-term view of what people can attain and do not lose sight of this potential in the midst of short-term crises, challenges, and barriers to growth.
The focus is on an individual’s strengths rather than deficits. While Strengths Model practitioners do not ignore people’s experience of psychiatric distress or environmental or personal challenges, the person’s strengths are amplified in order to find creative solutions for moving forward in one’s life. People are seen as whole individuals, and all individuals possess strengths which include their skills, talents, personal qualities, environmental resources, interests and aspirations.
The community is viewed as an oasis of resources. Just as all people have strengths, the person’s surrounding environment is filled with strengths. Strengths Model practitioners take the time to help people find niches in their community where they can flourish.
The client is the director of the helping process. Strengths Model practitioners strive to understand what people are most passionate about and what brings value or meaning to their life. Goals for the helping relationship are based on what the person finds important, not what the practitioner views as most important. Practitioners help people explore and resolve decisional uncertainty and/or conflict and generate options based on their strengths to help them move forward in their recovery. Self-determination is highly respected.
The relationship is primary and essential. In order to do recovery-oriented work, you must know the person with whom you are working. Strengths Model practitioners view engagement as essential to formulating client-centered goals. The role of a Strengths Model practitioner is often viewed more as a traveling companion rather than a travel agent. We become invested in the person’s recovery journey and view it as an honor to accompany them during the course of the working relationship.
The primary setting for our work is in the community. Recovery doesn’t occur inside the walls of the mental health center. It occurs where people live, work, and play. The Strengths Model practitioner becomes a valuable resource to the person as they come to understand the person’s life setting and help them use or build upon their strengths as their achieve their goals.