2. What is meant by the strength approach? In the strengths or capability-based approach, the main purpose is to help people reach their goals and aspirations. We focus our attention, and our assessment, on what people want their lives to be like, and what resources and strengths they have or need to get there
2.b How does it differ from the deficits approach or medical model? When we compare the strengths-based to the deficits-based perspectives, the differences between the two approaches becomes clearer. Figure 2.1 provides an opportunity for you to compare and contrast these two broad perspectives in helping professions. When contrasted, it becomes evident that a fundamental shift in thinking must take place to truly implement the strengths approach in practice. When contrasted, it becomes evident that a fundamental shift in thinking must take place to truly implement the strengths approach in practice.
2.c How is ecological perspective inherent in a strength approach? A theme you can identify as you read about the characteristics, assumptions, and services of a strengths approach is the importance of the person in their environment. This is called an ecological perspective, and is based on the concept of an interdependent system where human beings are inter-reliant with each other and with their environments. The ecological perspective, using a strengths approach, asks therapeutic recreation specialists (and other helping professionals) to not only focus on helping individuals build strengths, but to help communities and systems also build strengths. This approach extends our scope of practice, and situates our profession firmly in the intersection of recreation, health, and human service systems.
3. What current research and trends support the shift to a strength approach in therapeutic recreation and other helping professions? There are many current and related trends that are part of the underlying paradigm shift to a strengths approach. One positive trend is our changing conception of disability. As noted above, the social model of disability is replacing the medical model. This is partly driven by a change in the way society views disability. Instead of seeing disability as damage, we see disability as a variation in the human condition. When disability is viewed as a variation in who we are as humans, we shift our “gaze” from one attribute of a person (the disability), which may be interpreted as marginalizing and inferior, to the whole person. They call this “gaze” the “observing power,” and those who wield it are in positions of control and privilege another major trend that has affected the sea change is a change in the way medical services are provided. The medical model and medical professionals have lost the monopoly once held over medical and health knowledge. People are taking a more