Quick summary: As a therapist when I claim to be ‘strength based’ I am saying that I am committed to creating hope and change by helping my clients to focus on the positive, the effective, and the reasonable solutions that are available. I have clients isolate their strengths, the strength of significant others, the solutions that are working or worked in the past, what they are hopeful about, and what aspects of their character can be specifically used in creating and implementing a solution.
This is in contrast to a therapeutic intervention that is more focused on defining problems while allowing the client unlimited space to articulate the specifics of those problems without necessarily encouraging a switch of focus to what is going well or to finding a solution.
Many strength based therapists propose that being overly focused on problem saturated storylines impedes the solution acquisition process (if all the effort is being placed on the problem then there is no energy being spent on finding a solution)… therefore strength based therapists encourage the client to articulate what they are hopeful about, what they are already doing well, what character traits can be used in the solution, and what solutions are already proving useful.
An underlying theme of a strength based therapist is this … “most people are very good at articulating their problems and their faults… they are seeking my help to acknowledge and to understand their strengths and potential solutions… it is my job to ensure that the therapy session balances problems with solutions and perceived faults with perceived strengths.”
Strength based interventions are particularly important to couples and family therapy interventions – hope encourages change and clients don’t tend to feel very hopeful if an entire session is spent on articulating faults and problems… everyone has strengths and a solution is always available… the more that the clients can believe this the more hopeful they will be and the more likely they will be to do their part in creating meaningful change.