Focusing on “strengths” in mental health treatment

In an article last week for Behavioral Healthcare, Dr. Lori Ashcraft discussed a conceptual model referred to as the “strengths bank ” –a framework for helping people with behavioral health issues meet the challenges of once again becoming “valued, contributing members” of a community.

The first step: Identify and build upon strengths. And with that foundation, Ashcraft writes, a person in recovery can begin to develop reciprocal relationships, which play a crucial role in recovery and maintaining well-being.

“To sustain recovery and maintain wellness, we must create pathways for the journey of each recovering person that lead to continuous learning, growth and contribution. These pathways can only be created and followed in communities where reciprocal relationships build an interdependent network of ongoing natural support.”

The “Strengths Bank” model is intended to overcome the obstacles faced by previous efforts to help people in recovery reintegrate and break down the stigma that often comes hand-in-hand with behavioral health issues. Ashcraft argues that these earlier attempts were one-sided, and failed to achieve the “give and take” necessary on both sides for successful community inclusion.

The strength-based approach to behavioral health care –that is, treatment that doesn’t just focus on weaknesses and deficits, but also considers a person’s assets and their ability to develop them– is a key component of Polaris’s behavioral health assessment systems. By identifying strengths and then highlighting them in the clinical report, Polaris’s systems provide a platform for discussion about ways a client can best utilize their assets while on the road to recovery.