Updated: Nov 25, 2020
Strengths Based Consultation is learning about the whole school situation, especially the strengths of your child. School counselors use this technique when first gathering information about a new student/family with whom they are working. In doing this, a full picture of the child is painted, rather than just the presenting issue. Looking at the strengths of the whole child, important details that may have been overlooked in the past may come to light, whether it be about the child, the classroom or the methods being employed to address the needs of the child. A Strengths based approach also provides another point of view, on something that was previously thought to be unchangeable. For example, if the child never wakes up on time except for say, days when library class is taking place, that information shows an exception to the behavior problem, "the child never gets to school on time." It then gives us information that once in a while the child DOES like going to school, and there is hope that the situation can improve.
Then, the information enables a new approach to be developed that speaks to the specific needs of the child. The phrase "Information is power" has never been so compelling as in this situation because a child who feels 'seen' and valued will often rise to meet challenges never attempted before. Hope and action are like magic. Given the team's success at helping the child grow, it stands to reason that with proper accountability, more of the appropriate interventions will occur, and the child will continue to improve. Also, it is best practice to validate children's strengths and optimal learning is more than possible when a child knows people are on their side.
Similarly, if we list out the issues the school presents with, the same approach may uncover an otherwise unnoticed strength that can be used to benefit the child in future learning. For example, as dissatisfied as you may be with how the school has communicated so far, yet you note there is one teacher who does a great job with communication, THIS is a strength and therefore, a possible opportunity to capitalize on moving forward. In our work together, the goal will always be to find solutions that meet your child's needs effectively, and maintain a positive relationship with school personnel in order to help your child receive the best education experience possible. Being able to acknowledge the school's efforts, despite past grievances, is also notable and necessary to your child's growth. In a later post, I will delve into this more deeply but suffice it to say that division between home and school is akin to a split in child rearing decisions between mom and dad; no good can come of this if we hope to see the child improve.
In closing, a strengths based approach is not new. However, it can be pivotal in moving your child to a place of success and confidence with their natural born gifts. These changes may not occur overnight though sometimes it's been my experience that quick positive changes occur simply because the new plan is being followed and the team working together is powerful. Although it's not magic, it feels like it sometimes! I hope I've answered your questions about what a strengths based approach is but if not, feel free to email me with questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please check back for more blog posts in the coming weeks and again, I'm so glad you stopped by!