What's next for a strengths approach in social work?

10/8/2024 14:15 - 15:15

Strengths-based social work is a deceptively simple approach that's been conflated with community strengths-based models, causing confusion for practice. This has led to the reductionist question ‘what are your strengths’ now being seen as an acceptable basis for assessment.

It may be that in our determination to avoid a deficit approach, we're ignoring the realities of living with care and support needs. But it may also be that in the face of overwhelming need, a simplistic approach to assessment serves the unconscious need to contain anxiety for social workers and wider system.

This masterclass uses a local authority case study to explore the meaning of a strengths approach for social work. An approach of relationships and reciprocity is proposed to build upon the affirming principles of strengths and contributions whilst recognising the centrality of the relationship in forming authentic collaboration and containment.

Dr Tanya Moore, principal social worker, Essex County Council