Strengths-Based Approach: What This Means in Therapy

Strengths-Based Approach in Therapy

I’m sure you have seen many therapist’s Bio or About Me page promoting their strengths-based approach, but wondered what that actually means. Mental illness, including depression and anxiety, can cause you to focus on things that bother you and things you want to change. This can be helpful for creating goals, but also continues to highlight mistakes and unpleasantness as means to gain information and grow. Taking a strengths-based approach can also give you valuable information, but in a way that focuses on the positives. Counselors who use this approach, help you to focus on things that are going well and things that are working for you.

Therapy in Action

If you are someone who struggles to be on-time and are bothered by this, you might try to solve it like a problem. You probably look at all the factors, contributing to tardiness, and analyse how you can make changes and adjustments in order to be more on-time. This can be helpful for some individuals, but can be discouraging and shameful for others. Taking a strengths-based approach will instead increase awareness into occasions you were on-time for something. This will get you to challenge any judgement about ALWAYS being late or labeling yourself as someone who is a late person. Then, your therapist can help you to break down what worked. This gives you hope and something to build from. What did you do, what was going on, and where were you going that contributed to your effective timeliness? You can work to incorporate this effectiveness into your routine, replicate your efforts, and generalize the success into other areas of your life.

Focus on your success (because it’s there somewhere) and build from what works for you. This is taking a strengths-based approach!

- Nikki Gorman, MA, LPCC