In the global emergencies our world faces, the strengths approach is needed now more than ever. Commonly misunderstood, its true power as a whole systems approach to release the potential of individuals, communities and their environments has been neglected. For those brave enough to embrace it, this book offers theoretical and practical encouragement.
The authors use a case study of their work with a unique non-governmental organisation in the United Kingdom that combines student placements with support for refugees. They illustrate what it really means to adopt a strengths approach in practice. Chapters include the strengths approach to funding, organisational development, management and governance as well as immigration law, student learning and research.
This book will give readers grounds for optimism as well as transferable practices for challenging social injustice.
This textbook offers students and practitioners an accessible introduction to strengths-based approaches in Social Work and Social Care practice. Covering the theory and research in support of these approaches, and packed full of case studies, the book will allow readers to develop a critical understanding of how strengths-based approaches work, and how they can be successfully applied in order to improve outcomes for people with lived experience.
Covering the five main models of strengths-based practice, the text presents international research and evidence on the efficacy of each approach, enabling students and practitioners to apply the benefits in their own social work practice. The guide features the perspectives of people with lived experience throughout and includes the following key learning features:
case studies of best practice;
points for practice: succinct tips for practitioners and students on practice placement;
’. In seeking to ‘tell a truth’ as well as we are able, we acknowledge that all research is itself an intervention. In respect of people who are refugees we have an urgent obligation to ensure that the research process is one that contributes positively to their situations.
A substantial part of this chapter will focus, therefore, on appreciative inquiry as a strengths approach to research. It will introduce the process for those unfamiliar with it and report on work supported by Avril and conducted at START by Kim Embra for her doctoral thesis while studying as a
This chapter focuses on the theoretical context of the strengths-based approach. It first explores the origins of the approach and presents its underlying principles and philosophy. It then moves on to locate it within core sociological theories relevant to social work practice: those of social constructionism, agency, social capital and the psychological theory of resilience. This will be followed by a discussion of how the approach aligns with key social work theories and principles for practice. The chapter is aimed at providing an overview of how key
This chapter will focus on the application of strengths-based practices within adult mental health provision. Initially the chapter will argue that strengths-based practice has become integrated and subsumed within a neo-liberal culture of individualism which fails to recognise the determinants of mental distress. In such a hostile climate the potential for strengths-based practice to flourish is undermined. Following on from this, the chapter will focus on practice which further undermines the potential of strengths-based practice, namely, the
This chapter will track the emergence and development of strengths-based approaches in the field of adult social work and social care. Initially we will explore the history of the approach in relation to work with adults, including the important influence of political ideology on the development of the approach, from community social work through the move to social work as commissioning, and finally to the introduction of the Care Act and its underpinning principle of ‘well-being’.
The Care Act (2014) was described by Lyn Romeo, then Chief
commitment to the future makes the present inhabitable.
Solnit (2005 : 5)
We have never needed a strengths approach more than we do now – when a climate emergency and the COVID-19 pandemic compete for public attention with global economic interests; when populism is fed by frustrated individual ambitions and the entitlement of the few triumphs over the common good. A strong incentive for writing this book stems from the resurgence of far-right populism, racism, homophobia, hate crime and division with the concomitant danger that ideas like the
Since trust has to be placed without guarantees, it is inevitably sometimes misplaced: others let us down and we let others down. When this happens, trust and relationships based on trust are both damaged. Trust, it is constantly observed, is hard earned and easily dissipated. It is valuable capital and not to be squandered.
O’Neill (2002 : 6)
How does a strengths approach apply to organisational development? As an alternative paradigm to conventional theorising, this chapter introduces the concept of social innovation defined in Box 3.1 . We begin
Under conditions of true complexity – where the knowledge required exceeds that of any individual and unpredictability reigns – efforts to dictate every step from the centre will fail. People need room to act and adapt. Yet they cannot succeed as isolated individuals, either – that is anarchy. Instead they require a seemingly contradictory mix of freedom and expectation – expectation to coordinate, for example, and also to measure progress towards common goals.
Gawande (2010 : 79)
A strengths approach to governance and management is a philosophical core
law and policy by governments to perpetuate power and social injustice (seen in every totalitarian regime before, since and including the Third Reich) is one of the toughest challenges confronting the strengths approach. This chapter is unique in exploring what a strengths approach to mobilising law and policy will involve. It aims to show through the examples how maintaining a strengths approach to legal frameworks can, in itself, subvert a government’s aims to undermine human rights by such harmful means and promote social justice.
Understanding law, its