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How Strength-based Therapy Helps Your Mental Health


Strength-based therapy, a type of therapy that focuses on highlighting your personal strengths and positive qualities, employs various strength-based therapy techniques to enhance client outcomes. This approach, also known as strengths-based counseling, enables clients to adopt a strengths-based approach in their daily lives, significantly improving their quality of life and mental health. Notably, a therapist’s strengths and understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses play a crucial role in tailoring this therapy to individual needs.

The origins of strength-based therapy, a solution-focused therapy, can be traced back to Donald Clifton, reports Psychology Today, a renowned professor and psychologist. Initially rooted in social work, it evolved by incorporating therapeutic approaches from other therapy modalities like narrative therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Through this evolution, it embraced a more comprehensive strength-based counseling framework, leading to the well-established strengths-based therapy we recognize and value today. But what is it really, and what does it mean for those in recovery? Let’s take a closer look.

What Is a Strength-Based Approach and How Does It Work?

Strengths-based practice, a method integral to strength-based counseling, ensures that clients are at the forefront of their own treatment plans, empowering them to harness their inherent strengths and resources. This approach, also known as a strength-based model, maintains the integrity and efficacy of the therapeutic relationship. It’s a holistic mental health approach, especially beneficial when addressing chronic conditions. These standards, rooted in what is a strength-based approach, set the foundation by integrating principles from positive psychology to find and magnify mental health strengths in every client. A few of the core tenants of strength-based therapy include the following.


It’s imperative for the client to lead in establishing long-term objectives for their sessions. A social worker or therapist must ensure that these goals align with the clients’ strengths and desires, devoid of any conflicts of interest.

Strengths Assessment

A foundational step in strengths-based practice is the meticulous strengths assessment process. This not only helps in identifying the client’s strengths but also creates a paradigm shift, focusing on potential rather than limitations. Whenever clients veer towards their perceived weaknesses, it’s the responsibility of the effective counselor to guide the conversation back to harnessing and building upon these identified strengths.

Resources From The Environment

Leveraging external resources, including communities and choices therapy services, is essential for comprehensive care. This element of strengths-based case management ensures clients have a broad support system, linking them to external strengths and resources.

Strengths-Based Therapy

Strengths-based therapy emphasizes the strengths of a therapist to build a collaborative relationship with clients. It views each client through the lens of their unique strengths, resources, and potential, incorporating strengths and weaknesses of narrative therapy into its framework. Learn more about our approach at New Choices Treatment Centers.

Promoting Positive Psychology

This aspect of therapy, which includes strength-based interventions, focuses on positivity, resilience, and growth, a key part of strengths in recovery. It complements the strengths perspective, helping clients continually find strengths within themselves.

Ethical Responsibility and Continuous Learning

Here, the focus is on understanding therapist strengths and weaknesses and the ethical responsibility of social workers and therapists. Continuous learning about strength-based practice and client strengths in therapy ensures that clients receive the best care.

These standards, integral to a strength-based model, ensure that clients remain central to the therapeutic process, with their strengths leading the way. This approach, pioneered by figures like Donald Clifton who created the strengths-based approach, represents a significant shift in the health care landscape. To explore a unique approach and opportunities in leveraging exercise in recovery, discover the New Choices Treatment Centers’ Active in Recovery (AIR) program.

Different Methods Are Used For Identifying Client And Environmental Strengths For Goal Attainment

This standard serves as a reminder that, with strengths-based therapy, there are many different types of approaches that can be taken and the approach that is chosen by the therapist should reflect the client’s end goal. For example, when it comes to clients that are specifically focused on a solution to a problem of theirs instead of ongoing management of a problem, it is important for the client to set goals before identifying strengths, explains The Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services (Iriss).

Building and Keeping Hope-inducing Relationships

Again, just like other types of therapy, it is important for clients to have strong and positive relationships with others, such as with family members and friends, outside of therapy to provide positive reinforcement to the client.

Having the Autonomy to Make Their Own Choices

One of the unique things about the strengths-based approach is that a lot of it is actually self-determined by the client. This means that one of the responsibilities of the therapist is to actually help teach their client how to really be autonomous and be able to make those decisions for themselves.

Strength-based Therapy Has A Positive Impact on Mental Health

A study published in the Iranian Journal of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences found that the strength-based approach worked better than the “traditional medical model which emphasizes on pathology, focusing on problems and failures in people with mental illnesses.” This was true across anxiety disorders and depressive disorders because “the strength-based approach allows practitioners to acknowledge that every individual has a unique set of strengths and abilities so that he/she can rely on them to overcome problems.”

It has also been shown that using the strengths-based therapy model has been able to help reduce drug use, lower rates of arrest and conviction, and improve higher levels of social functioning, asserts Iriss. Specifically, through strengths-based case management, there has also been improved retention in aftercare programs for those who have struggled with substance abuse issues as well as improved employability rates.

If other, more “traditional” forms of therapy, such as talk therapy and cognitive therapy, have not been helpful in combating your mental health issues, a strengths-based intervention that utilizes more positive psychology may be the right way forward in improving your mental health.

Take Advantage of Strength-Based Therapy at New Choices Treatment Centers
The world of mental health care continues to evolve and reflects a growing trend of combining both traditional and non-traditional approaches. Strength-based therapy is one of the latest and most highly sought after forms of treatment for recovery and improving mental health. Learn more by connecting with a team member at New Choices Treatment Center, and get on the path to building your healthier life now.