The Strengths Model Addiction Treatment Programme

This Page was last reviewed and changed on May 12th, 2022

Our Oasis Runcorn clinic is the only rehab facility in the UK to offer two types of programmes: The popular 12-Step recovery programme and the Strengths Model programme.

For those unfamiliar with this practice, the strengths model is often preferred by those who struggle to connect with the idea of a God/higher power.

What is Strength-Based Practice?

Strength-based therapy is a type of positive social work and counselling practice that emphasises people’s self-determination, strengths and resourcefulness, and less on weaknesses, failures, and shortcomings. This focus sets up a positive mindset that helps you build on your best qualities, find your strengths, improve resilience and change your outlook to one that is more positive. A positive attitude, in turn, can help your expectations become more reasonable.

When is it Used?

This type of therapy is used as a way of treating people with low self-esteem, those who have suffered from addiction, or people with emotional issues resulting from abusive relationships with a parent or partner. This also includes people with serious mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.

What Can You Expect?

Strength-based therapy encourages people towards explaining their past traumas and stressors, placing emphasis on the individual as a survivor rather than a victim, focusing on the person’s strengths and survival skills rather than identifying weaknesses. The goal is for addicts to recognise and understand that they have the skills and strength to survive and can use those same strengths to deal with tough situations in other areas of your life.

The core principles behind this model are:

  • When a client reaches out for treatment, it means that their denial has dropped sufficiently for them to come and seek help.
  • Denial is a defence against anxiety and shame relating to the condition of addiction; early interventions designed to break down denial are likely to have the effect of strengthening the defence further.
  • Recovery requires that a person feels sufficient hope and strength to be able to embrace change.
  • A positive stock-check of a client’s strengths and assets – their recovery capital – is a crucial early stage in the treatment episode.
  • Specific SMART goals must be made throughout treatment
  • Peers are the most appropriate support throughout many aspects of the programme, especially around supporting specific recovery targets.

This particular therapy model is designed to run parallel with a host of other activities that occur with all patients on a daily basis. Without that timetable, this model would not function. An example would be the Process Group, which takes place every morning for all clients, whatever stage of the programme they might be on. Also important are the other community-based activities that also take place each day. The model works within that environment, adding personal shape to the written work and some of the groups that they take part in each day.

Strengths Programme: Important Milestones

  •  “The Life Story” Worksheets
  •  “Addiction and Me”
  •  “My Strengths”
  •  “Changes”
  •  “Personal Issues”
  •  “Amends”
  •  “The Future”
  •  “Relapse Prevention”

Each module is explained in greater detail here.

“The Life Story” Worksheets

This is the first stage of the programme and is designed to help the client centre themselves. It is a road map, a ‘YOU ARE HERE’ in their lives and environment. It has the added value of, when shared with peers, allowing their peers to know them as a whole person. The life story is read out during group, and can be is very challenging to many clients and will bring up a lot of painful memories. It is a very important start to the therapeutic process.

“Addiction and Me”

Once a client has had a look at his whole life, the next stage is to look closely and honestly at the reason they have come into treatment with us – the abuse of alcohol and/or drugs. Although there is much truth in the concept of addiction as a failed attempt at self-healing or self-medicating, many treatment models take this concept too far and almost ignore actual drugs/alcohol in the pursuit of personal insight and growth. we are placing addiction at the centre of our treatment model by looking immediately at the client’s using history and its effects on his or her life.

“My Strengths”

The client is now at a point where there has been much focus on the ‘negative’ – their life and their using and they are at the point where they are going to start to make changes in their lives. It is crucial that, at this point, they concentrate on their strengths (as they are going to need all of them). this is designed to help them understand the great resources they have to rely upon but also to help raise their self-esteem to a point where personal change seems both possible and worthwhile.

Some clients who have prior experience of treatment will be surprised and challenged by this module, as they are used to talking about themselves in negative terms. Most clients will have no problems at all telling a group about their negative traits but will find it very difficult to accept their strengths.


Many of the Worksheets in this section of the programme are of the ITEP mapping style and we start with what the client would like to change NOW. This is based on the idea that, before the process of recovery can begin to gain momentum, it is necessary for the client to change certain attitudes and behaviours that are keeping them stuck. In psychoanalytic terms, this is called ‘fixated’, where someone is unable to progress to the next stage of personal development and remains trapped. The feeling of being trapped, of going round and round in circles, is a very common experience for people in addiction and it is this trapped feeling that this module is designed to tackle.

“Personal Issues”

The process of going through the goal setting worksheets in the previous section of the programme should have highlighted certain emotional issues and blocks to recovery. The work each day in the Process Groups will also have highlighted certain areas of difficulty.  We may find, for example, that fear plays a large part in hindering progress, or certain behaviours such as dishonesty or issues around relationships. In parallel with the goals process, we have the opportunity now, in these “Personal Issues” worksheets, to help the clients explore these particular areas. They are very effective when read out in the group. Clients can revisit goals in the light of what this module has taught them about themselves.


Recovery models that try to ignore the client’s past and the consequences of the action, although well-meaning, may not end up helping the client long-term. A healthier attitude involves acknowledging that, although much of what happened was not the client’s fault, there are relationships to rebuild and feelings of guilt to deal with. The solution, therefore, is to incorporate into the programme, an opportunity to take an honest look at the past (not from a denial busting, ego-deflating point of view, but from a healing point of view).

“The Future”

Now is a very good time to take stock of the progress so far. This is the point of the Recovery Review worksheet. There are some basic rules when managing change from addiction, the first two of which are very important:

Rule 1: Don’t let it kill you. (be kind to yourself, allow for personal rest and reflection, don’t drown yourself in unrealistic targets and goals).

Rule 2: Start from where you are now. (this involves not wading in and changing everything. Contrary to popular belief, our clients sometimes do not need to change everything.

“Relapse Prevention”

This module covers the ongoing work that is necessary for long-term recovery and reflects the Maintenance stage of the Stages of Change Model. Relapse prevention is not something that should be given to clients on graduation but is something that they should learn to do while still in the supporting and more structured and disciplined environment of the treatment centre.

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If you successfully complete our 90-day inpatient treatment programme but experience a relapse within 30 days of leaving, we will welcome you back for complimentary 30 days of treatment.*

* Click here to learn more or contact UKAT directly for rehab availability.

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