Instructor Responses to Week 2 homework (Wellness and Recovery Promotion)

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    Kristen Erickson

    Instructor Responses to Week 2 Homework

     1.What are your general reactions to this exercise of identifying strengths and reflecting on how a strength can help you achieve a recovery or wellness goal?

    Many of you discovered some new things about your strengths through this exercise. For example, Amy mentioned, “I appreciated this exercise as I was able to recognize personal strengths that I never really considered as strengths and ways that my life has improved over the course of time in many areas.”

    Often what happens when we spend some time exploring our skills, abilities, and talents, we become linked more closely to our hopes and dreams. As Robin wrote: “My general reaction was that of discovering I have placed a great deal of my own self worth on my ability to be financially independent and able to support myself and live a comfortable life while doing so. I find great pride in knowing that myself and my family are comfortable and that some day retirement will be a reality and will be filled with activities of enjoyment.

    Many people find that they are able to identify more strengths than they originally recognized. In addition, they often discover that focusing on strengths is more motivating than focusing on deficits and leads to uncovering solutions to problems. As Jvillian remarked, “I realize in answering the questions that I was more focused on the positive outcome than on the negative barriers which tends to lend itself to forward motion in a plan. Due to the stress of my everyday work I can see that being focused on positive and strengths certainly would be more motivating than identifying all the reasons the goal cannot be achieved.

    2.What did you discover about your own strengths that might have been previously hidden from view?

    Jvillian noticed that she has more coping skills than she realized. She noted, “I also recognize I am on who easily is caught up in the negative which can certainly bog me down and make me feel defeated, even when the picture isn’t as bleak as I think it is. Reframing would be a good skill for me to practice on the daily basis to try to shift the internal narrative.

    And Robert commented, “The guided questions helped me think about recognizing the goals, situations, and perceived change as positives and strengths. I tend to downplay my strengths or I just do not recognize them as perceived strengths.”

    When exploring consumers’ strengths, it is very important to keep them in the center of the conversation and refrain from jumping in with your own ideas about what their talents, skills, and abilities are. Through this exploration consumers can not only discover strengths that have been previously hidden from view but they can uncover stories of their lived experience that are linked to their values and what is precious to them. This lays the foundation for an exploration of hopes and dreams and next steps in their recovery journey.

    3.How would you or have you used a strengths assessment to help consumers identify their strengths and uncover their hopes and dreams?

     Here is a sampling of some of the ways you have or would use a strengths assessment to help the people you work with.

    * I will definitely spend more time encouraging clients to reflect on and discuss what they feels is going well in their lives (strengths) and what past accomplishments they have achieved before discussing their goals.

    * To help others find their own strength is important, I feel that others will benefit from being able to identify their own ability to support themselves and their own benchmark of what “support” looks like for them and understanding that this may be a fluid process rather than a static one.

    * I can see from working through this lesson that shifting our initial assessment to a more strengths focused one would help us to elicit more strengths on the front end versus being shown clearly the weakness/illness in full view.

    * Helping clients identify their strengths, dreams, and motivations will help them understand themselves and what they need to do to reach their goals.

    Jvillian also noted how doing a more extensive strengths assessment shifts the focus from the counselor as expert, to the consumer as the expert in their own life. She wrote: “It also allows the opportunity for us to be focused more on the autonomy of the client to pave their own path versus us as clinicians feeling the need to caretake/protect the clients from their “illness”. Yes! In this way the strengths assessment is integral to a person-centered and respectful approach to helping.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful reflections on the homework exercises. Lesson 3 will explore the elements of recovery planning and helping consumers manage setbacks.


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