The strengths-based approach (SBA) was initially used in social work settings to emphasize a person's strengths when managing and solving problems. Traditional views of treating illness often attempt to resolve or fix health-related issues. In contrast, SBAs focus on what a person can do instead of their impairments. The SBA approach is useful in many different healthcare settings, including mental health, social work, and pediatrics.
Like all therapy, the strength-based approach requires collaboration between occupational therapists and their clients. Discussions should focus on what matters to the client to identify and utilize their strengths during therapy. Several principles of the strength-based approach include:
Believing that every person has the potential and unique strengths to overcome their challenges.
Authentic relationships are a driving force of positive change.
The change process should start with what is essential to the patient or client, not the therapist.
Strengths-based approaches look beyond a person's limitations or labels of disability to help them achieve what is important and meaningful to them. Let's take a look at several examples of occupational therapy's role in promoting strengths.
in school settings, occupational therapists may consult with teachers to adapt classrooms so that they fit better with a student's strengths
in home environments, occupational therapists may support a child's positive behaviours to help them participate in activities
for individual or group settings, therapists may design therapies that support further development of meaningful activities or occupations
in community settings, occupational therapists may consult with clubs or sports teams to recommend modifications
Reference: Baron, S., Stanley, T., Colomina, C., & Pereira, T. (2019). Strength-based Approach–Practice Framework and Practice Handbook. Department of Health & Social Care, 105.