How do we make therapy strengths-based?
Strengths-based psychotherapy is a version of therapy that focuses on your strengths and how those strengths can be used to help you achieve your goals. This may seem like an obvious solution, but it is quite different from types of therapy that emphasize one’s problems. Instead of being problem-focused, strengths-based psychotherapy looks at solutions and how you can achieve them using your unique character and personality.
This is not a one-size-fits-all approach because strengths-based therapy is specific to each person’s individual strengths and characteristics. What makes you special and unique helps us find ways to use those strengths to your advantage. These are already your strengths, so there is no strength development required for this approach.
The first step in this approach is to explore what your strengths might be. This can be done through self-report of your own beliefs, analysis of what your loved ones believe your strengths are, and tools like strengths-based inventories. Sometimes we get in the habit of overlooking our strengths. We can tend to focus instead on our weaknesses or areas where we would like to experience growth. This is why it is important to take stock of what others around you say your strengths are. You might recall compliments from friends and family but you may have discounted them since they came from people you love. A strengths based therapist will help you name and acknowledge your strengths that you might otherwise overlook.
Once you have assessed your strengths based on your own beliefs and the opinions of your loved ones, it is important to use a strengths-based inventory. These tools ask you questions about yourself and your abilities with the goal of determining your most significant strengths. These can be especially helpful because, unlike the opinions of people you love, there is no bias involved. These results reflect your responses and are meant to accurately reflect your best skills and personal strengths.
After you determine your strengths, the next step is finding out how to use them to help you achieve your goals. This can be tricky because it takes some creativity to consider how your strengths translate to goal-achieving strategies. For example, let’s say that one of your strengths is gratitude. So, you are adept at appreciating your surroundings, your loved ones, and your life in general. Next, let’s say that one of your goals for therapy is to have more compassion and appreciation for yourself.
Strengths-based psychotherapy looks at how you can use your strength of gratitude to help you have greater self-compassion self-appreciation. Perhaps you excel in expressing gratitude for others but you often forget to express gratitude for yourself. One example of using gratitude to better love yourself is to write down three successes that you have had each day for a week.
Take some time to appreciate what you have accomplished, how you have persevered, and how you have helped others in your everyday life. Although it may seem easier to be grateful for people around you, it is equally important to be grateful for yourself and for your development as a person! The more you appreciate your successes (even small ones), the more you appreciate yourself and how you have contributed to your own success and the success of your friends and family.
Strengths-based interventions are just one aspect of the psychotherapy journey, and there are often other types of activities that you experience throughout the therapeutic process. The beauty of this state of mind is that everyone has strengths, everyone has goals, and everyone has the ability to use their strengths to help them achieve those goals. Sometimes all you need is a little self-exploration and self-love to get you started!
Before you move on with your day, take a few minutes to think about your strengths. What are you good at? What do others say you are good at? This may be difficult to ascertain at first. If so, try to think about it this way: if your best friend had your personality, what would you say their strengths are? You can even ask your friends and family what they believe your strengths are. Take those strengths and write them down or type them where you will see them in your day-to-day life. This can be in your planner, on your calendar, or even in your phone. If you try to approach life with your strengths in mind, you may surprise yourself with the results!