The strengths model

The Oasis Runcorn rehab clinic, one of our UKAT facilities, offers both the 12-step programme and the strengths model programme. Oasis Runcorn is the only addiction rehab centre in England that offers two different forms of treatment programmes. Read on to learn what the strengths model is, how it is implemented in addiction treatment and how it helps clients during their recovery.

What is the strengths model?

Founded on the practices of social work, the strengths model is a type of psychotherapy that coaches participants in finding their inner strengths and coming to terms with their struggles. This is known as a ‘strengths-based approach’ to therapy.

Strength-based therapy has been successfully utilised by therapists to treat a wide range of mental health disorders since the 20th century. This form of therapy can be adapted to treat many health conditions, including, but not limited to:

  • Addiction
  • Low self-esteem
  • Abuse trauma
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Schizophrenia

Core principles of strength-based therapy for addiction

  • Denial is a defence mechanism used as a response to shame and guilt. When a client begins strength-based therapy, they are accessing their inner strength and will to survive.
  • All clients are unique and have their own specific capabilities, strengths and boundaries. Each client owns their story and everyone has the potential to live a happier and healthier life.
  • The world is always moving; accepting change is crucial to finding peace and hope for the future.
  • It is vital to take a stock check of the individual’s positive traits before treatment. These assets can be perceived as their ‘recovery capital’ — the tools individuals can use throughout their strengths model programme.
  • Therapists and clients must set personalised ‘SMART’ goals for strength-based therapy: ‘Small’, ‘Measurable’, ‘Achievable’ and ‘Realistic Targets’ for growth.
  • With a positive attitude, individuals may come to view their community as a valuable resource for support and reaching their recovery targets.

Using the strength model for addiction treatment

In the context of addiction treatment, strength-based therapy is designed to help clients develop their best qualities, such as resilience, perseverance, and determination. During therapy sessions, participants will share their life stories. This shifts their focus away from feelings of guilt or shame, permitting them to recognise the their will to survive.

An individual may choose to pursue the strength model programme for their addiction treatment if they are looking for an alternative to the 12-step therapy programme. The 12-step programme invites participants to connect with a God or higher power, but the strengths model does not. Therefore, strength-based therapy may be a good choice for clients who do not connect with the concept of a God or higher power.

The strengths model and inpatient rehab

The strength therapy approach integrates seamlessly into Oasis Runcorn’s rehab programme alongside detox, workshops, and holistic therapies. The sample timetable represents a typical rehab programme available at our eight UKAT facilities.

Our highly-qualified therapists and addiction support workers have found that strength-based therapy works best alongside other daily activities as part of a holistic treatment programme. By engaging with the strengths model in a mutually supportive setting, clients can feel safe as they discuss past traumas with their Process Group.

The eights stages of the strengths model programme

The strengths model emphasises positive growth by empowering individuals to take pride in their personal qualities. Here are the eight parts of the strengths model programme delivered at Oasis Runcorn:

1: The Life Story
At the beginning of strength-based therapy, the client writes a ‘road map’ of their life story. Then, they read their story aloud to their group. This can be difficult when past traumas and memories rise to the surface. However, facing their past can actually ground the client in the present. Building on the techniques of narrative therapy, the life story can help the client realise that their past is now behind them.
2: Addiction and Me
The next step of the strength model programme focuses on the client’s unhealthy relationship with an addictive substance or behaviour. Now that the client has created a map of their life story, therapists can work with them to review their history of addiction. The client can then identify the stressors or traumatic events which triggered their struggle.
3: My Strengths
Once the client has understood their past, they will be able to focus on their qualities. Therapists will help them find new methods of drawing on their biggest strengths should they face any difficult times after rehab. Accepting their positive attributes is the essential key to strength-based therapy, and it can unlock the client’s potential to thrive as they begin their recovery.
4: Changes
At the midway point of strength-based therapy, it is important to break free from any feelings of ‘fixation’ which are hindering the recovery journey of the individual. So, the individual will fill in a worksheet to explain exactly what they would like to change about their behaviour and lifestyle. This is modelled on ITEP mapping (International Treatment Effectiveness Project), a form of psychosocial recovery planning.
5: Personal Issues
The following strengths model worksheets direct individuals toward the underlying emotional problems that may inhibit their recovery. These problems might include feelings of fear, self-hatred, dishonesty or regret. Once again, therapists will encourage each individual to read their worksheet out loud to the group. This method allows them to process their feelings in a healthy and safe environment.
6. Amends
At this stage of strength-based therapy, the client will be ready to look outwards to their relationships with friends and family. This part of the programme compels clients to think about how their struggle has affected their relationships. Together with the therapist, they can discuss methods of making amends with loved ones when they return home.
7: The Future
Clients will be advised to use this part of the strengths model programme to reflect on how far they have come already. Before they progress to the last step, therapists will set out two important rules for clients:

Rule 1: Give yourself adequate time to grow, rest and reflect. Treat yourself with kindness by setting small, realistic targets (remember SMART).

Rule 2: Ensure that your changes are gradual, not sudden. You may not need to change every aspect of your life to begin your recovery. Instead, you should focus on the personal issues that are holding you back.

8: Relapse Prevention
Relapse prevention should begin before the client finishes their strengths model programme. Before the client leaves rehab, they will create a plan to continue the strength model in recovery. In this regard, strength-based therapy can help clients manage their expectations for life after rehab.
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Frequently asked questions

What is the strength-based approach for recovery?
Strength-based therapy coaches individuals to develop a positive mindset and revitalised perspective on life. Once an individual has a positive new outlook, they can work on their self-esteem by recognising their strengths, values, ambitions and personal qualities.
Why is the strength model used in recovery?
In addiction counselling, therapists encourage clients to use the strength model in recovery because this model emphasises continued personal growth. This is very important for people in addiction recovery, because it is their new sense of self-love which will help them to stay strong during any difficult moments after they leave rehab.
What are the benefits of strength-based therapy?
Strength-based therapy provides participants with the tools they need to learn from their past, heal from trauma and make amends with their friends and family. They can start to live their life with a stronger belief in themselves and a renewed sense of hope.
What is the goal of the strength model in recovery?
The strengths model aims to rebuild an individual’s self-esteem, which has likely been diminished by their negative feelings about their struggle. This can, in turn, help them to realise that they are not defined by their mistakes or past traumas.