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Strength Based Approach for Mentally Ill People

Strength based approach is used for focusing on the patients’ positive attributes rather than the negative ones. This approach is effective in the recovery process of the patient as the patient is empowered by enhancing his or her strength to deal with their ill health. This approach is a work-practice theory which stresses on the strength and the self-determination of individuals. This approach build the individuals with their own strength and particularly consider as resourceful as well as resilient when they have to deal with adverse situations. With this approach the client is led and focus is on the outcomes that can be achieved with the individual’s set of strength.

This approach has been effective as the client is considered as the actor or the agent for brining change in his own life according to Zacarian, Álvarez-Ortiz, and Haynes, (2017). The healthcare worker provides the right environment for controlling the desired change. This approach is depending on the thought process and information and emotional processing of the individual. With this approach the client can communicate openly and the thought process for the individuals for identifying value and assembling their capacities and strengths during the change course. With this approach the health care worker provides habitable conditions for the individuals to see themselves at their best level. This allows them to see the value that they can bring by just being them. The health care worker then takes effort to move the value forward for capitalizing on the strengths rather than on focusing on the negative characteristics of the individuals.

In the present scenario, mental health issues and their effective management have gained attention according to Moorkath, Ragesh, and Hamza, (2019). During the last three decades, mental healthcare workers have increasingly adopted only the core aspects of the strength-based approach in the healthcare delivery. Considering the recovery paradigm, this approach is based on the inherent capacities of the individual which can be used for converting towards empowerment. This approach avoids use of labelled and stigmatized language and the therapists adopts a communication mode which is instilling hope and helps in the enhancement of ones’ strengths. This approach promotes resilience in individuals as opposed to dealing with the individuals deficits. This is in particular based on collaborative relationships, change and growth and this is a promising approach for improving their wellbeing and life quality. This approach is basically a person-centred approach for imparting care which supports the commitment to the human potential for the individual development and growth.

The health care worker adopting this approach imparts psychotherapy and counselling to the individuals suffering from mental health problmes. The health care worker stresses on the internal strengths and the capacities of the individuals so that they consider themselves to be resourceful and less focus on their failures, shortcomings and weaknesses. The health care worker creates an environment for the individual where he or she can set up a positive mindset which helps in building on the best quality, identifying of strengths and improving resilience.

Principles of Strength-Based Approach

There are six principles of strength-based approach which have to be considered when dealing with the mental health patients as given by Rapp, and Goscha, (2011). These are discussed as follows:

Recovery-oriented practice is the first principle of this approach as suggested by Gottlieb, Gottlieb, and Shamian, (2012). The healthcare worker has to focus on the mental health recovery of the individual. This has to be done by maintaining an initial focus on the desires, interests, experience, talents, resiliency, aspirations, ascribed meanings, strengths, knowledge and not on their weaknesses, problems, deficits or needs as perceived by others.

The second principle is that the health care worker has to understand that each of the person is responsible for their own mental health recovery. The health care for the mental health patients has to consider that the participants are the director of the helping efforts. The health care workers are only providing a caring community living consultants to them. The healing process in the mental health illness takes place on many levels in the individuals as suggested by Steiner, (2011).

The third principle maintains that all the human beings have the inherent potential and capacities to learn, transform and grow. The human spirit is resilient incredibly and the humans have the right to try, succeed and then experience the learning that is associated with the falling short of any goal according Swartz, (2017).

The fourth principle is that there has to be a partnership between the patient and the health care worker. This partnership has to be a helping relationship which is based on the mutuality, respect and collaboration. The health care worker has to maintain that the power has to be with another and not power over the individuals.

The fifth principle is of working with the mental health patients in natural settings within the community. This is the preferred venue for helping the mentally-ill patients to recover from their illness.

The last principle stresses that the entire community has to be considered as resourceful and not as an obstacle in the mental health recovery. The resource occurring naturally are considered to be used in the mental health recovery than the complex mental health programs.

Standards for Strength-Based Approach in Mental Health Recovery

For adopting a strength based approach in the mental health recovery of the individuals the health care workers have to consider the following standards as given by Pattoni, (2012). These have been discussed as follows.

The strengths-based approach is goal oriented. The most important element in this approach is the extent to which the people can set goals that they want to achieve in their lives.

The assessment of the individuals’ strengths has to be done. The primary focus is not the individual deficiencies or problems and support is provided to them so that they are able to realize their inherent resources which can be disposed by them for counteracting any adverse condition or dealing with difficult situations.

The resources required have to be derived from the environment as the proponents of this approach believe that in every environment there are institutions, groups, association and individuals having resources which can be utilized by health care workers. It is the role of the health care practitioner to establish link between these resources and the mentally ill patients according Swartz, (2017).

The health care practitioner has to use explicit methods for the identification of the environmental and client’s strength for attaining the desired health care outcomes. These methods are different for the different strength-based approaches. For instance in the solution-focused therapy the health care practitioner assist the client in setting goals before the strengths identification. In contrast to it, in the strength-based case management the individuals have to go through a specific assessment of strengths step.

The client and the health care practitioner relationship is a helping one. This approach aims at increasing the hopefulness in the client. Hope can also be realized through the strengthening of the relationship with the people, culture and the communities.

The health care practitioner has to highlight the collaborative stance where the people are considered to be experts for the management of their own lives. The role of the health care practitioner is to explain the choices and increase these choices by encouraging the people to make their own decisions and hence take informed choices.

Strategies to Be Used for Mental Health Recovery

The strategies have to be used for the mental health recovery of the patients. The basis of these strategies is in the principles of strengths-based approach. As a health care practitioner one has to understand that all human beings have the strengths which can be used for improving the quality of their own life. The motivation of the consumer for having a better life originates from their increased focus on the strengths possessed by them. Lastly, the environment contain all the resources which help the consumers in developing their own strengths as suggested by Xie, (2013).

The families and the communities of the consumers of which they are a part have the resources on which the consumers can rely for developing their own strengths as suggested by Xie, (2013). . The mental health care practice workers can partner with the local community organizations. These organizations can assist in the identification and developing an informal support system for the patients and provide them with the facilities which can be used by them for carrying activities which can enhance their motivation and strengths as suggested by Vandevelde, et al (2017).

The mental health care workers can develop a formalized structure where the participation from the consumers and the input from the communities and families is required according to Xie, (2013). Patients suffering from mental illness can then use these activities as aid for their mental health recovery. The mental health care workers can conduct educational sessions, social interventional gatherings and meeting between the family members, practitioners and consumers as a part of the formal structure. The health care workers have to create opportunities for the consumers so that they can lead and share their success stories with each other and with the practitioners and the partners involved. In this formal structure, the health care workers are better able to prioritize the meetings between the community, family and consumers amongst the competing demands for their time.

The mental health care worker can establish a therapeutic relationships with the mental health patients as suggested by Xie, (2013). The focus of this relation has to be on the associations with the patients rather than on their diseases. This focus on the strengths helps the practitioner in not blaming the patients rather than helping them to discover how the individuals have strived in spite of their adverse circumstance like the relapse of mental illness. With this relationship, the practitioner does not disregard the real struggles and pain of the individual with mental illness rather challenges the inadequacy of the central focus on the pathology.

Within a therapeutic relation, health care practitioners and patients are equal partners as pointed out by Rashid, (2015). In this way the patients’ autonomy is also recognized. The preferences of the patients are incorporated into the therapeutic relationships. The health care worker serve as a partner having the technical and professional knowledge for facilitating the utilization and identification of the strengths of the patients so that they are able to progress towards the recovery. Like in all types of partnership, every party puts their interests for helping the other to succeed. The patients are dependent on the health care workers for their technical advice and the opinions and feedbacks of the patients help the workers in understanding them better. The patient mental health recovery reaffirms the efforts of the healthcare workers. The whole of community and family may be involved in this partnership. These can act as potential resources for supporting the patient’s mental health recovery according to Pulla, (2017).

This therapeutic relationship can be initiated with the strength based approach by assessing the strengths of the patients. These are inclusive of the traits, virtues, personal qualities and the perception of the patients about themselves and the world. According to Lietz, (2011), the strengths of the individuals can be found by considering the evidence of their talents, interests and competencies and by effective listening to their stories. Chatting informally with the patients can be helpful for the patients for eliciting their own strengths according to Xie, (2013). questions can be asked about their hobbies and activities that are interesting to them or how they have moved through the acute phase of their illness.

A plan has to be developed for setting the goals for the patient so that their strengths are utilized. Each of the strengths have to be identified and assessed so that potential of the person as a whole improves and this allows him or her to better deal with illness. There has to be a follow-up with the practitioners in a week so as to talk about the approach and this will give an opportunity to the health care practitioner for evaluating the progress of the patients on recovery path.

It is thereby concluded that the strength-based approach is an effective approach for promoting mental health recovery of the patients. This is mainly focus on the strengths of the patients and aims to develop these so that they are empowered to deal with the situations of their own life. The proper planning is needed to derive the best results from strength-based approach for mental health recovery. The practitioners needs to have effective listening, communication, leading and motivating skills to allow growth of the individuals and help them to move on the path of recovery.


Gottlieb, L. N., Gottlieb, B., & Shamian, J. (2012). Principles of strengths-based nursing leadership for strengths-based nursing care: A new paradigm for nursing and healthcare for the 21st century. Nursing Leadership, 25(2), 38-50.

Lietz, C. A. (2011). Theoretical adherence to family centered practice: Are strengths-based principles illustrated in families' descriptions of child welfare services?. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(6), 888-893.

Moorkath, F., Ragesh, G., & Hamza, A. (2019). Strength-based approach in dealing with severe mental illness. Open Journal of Psychiatry & Allied Sciences, 10(2), 175-177.

Pattoni, L. (2012). Strengths-based approaches for working with individuals. IRISS.

Pulla, V. (2017). Strengths-based approach in social work: A distinct ethical advantage. International Journal of Innovation, Creativity and Change, 3(2), 97-114.

Rapp, C. A., & Goscha, R. J. (2011). The strengths model: A recovery-oriented approach to mental health services. OUP USA.

Rashid, T. (2015). Positive psychotherapy: A strength-based approach. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(1), 25-40.

Steiner, A. M. (2011). A strength-based approach to parent education for children with autism. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 13(3), 178-190.

Swartz, M. K. (2017). A strength-based approach to care. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 31(1), 1.

Vandevelde, S., Vander Laenen, F., Van Damme, L., Vanderplasschen, W., Audenaert, K., Broekaert, E., & Vander Beken, T. (2017). Dilemmas in applying strengths-based approaches in working with offenders with mental illness: A critical multidisciplinary review. Aggression and violent behavior, 32, 71-79.

Xie, H. (2013). Strengths-based approach for mental health recovery. Iranian journal of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, 7(2), 5.

Zacarian, D., Álvarez-Ortiz, L., & Haynes, J. (2017). Using a Strengths-Based Approach with ELs: Supporting Students Living with Trauma, Violence and Chronic Stress.

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