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Tools for Strengths-Based Assessment and Evaluation - Springer ...

Tools for Strengths-Based

Assessment and Evaluation


Catherine A. Simmons, PhD, LCSW, is an Associate Professor at the Department

of Social Work, The University of Memphis. Her research interests revolve around

trauma and violence with a focus on family violence and strengths-based interventions.

Dr. Simmons’ publications include Strengths-Based Batterer Intervention: A New Paradigm

in Ending Family Violence, coedited with Dr. Peter Lehmann, and numerous journal articles

and book chapters focusing on social work practice issues. Dr. Simmons has over 20

years of social work experience with family violence, trauma, and mental health populations.

Currently, Dr. Simmons teaches clinical practice and research courses in the graduate

program.

Peter Lehmann, PhD, LCSW, is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Work,

The University of Texas at Arlington. He teaches in the direct practice stream and has an

interest in the use of strengths-based approaches with youth and adult offender populations

in the criminal justice system. Dr. Lehmann’s publications include Strengths-Based

Batterer Interventions: A New Paradigm in Ending Family Violence, coedited with Catherine

A. Simmons, and Theoretical Perspectives for Direct Social Work Practice, 2nd edition,

Coedited with Dr. Nick Coady.


Tools for Strengths-Based

Assessment and Evaluation

CATHERINE A. SIMMONS, PhD, LCSW

PETER LEHMANN, PhD, LCSW


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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Simmons, Catherine A.

Tools for strengths-based assessment and evaluation / Catherine A. Simmons, PhD, CSW Peter Lehmann, PhD, LCSW.

pages cm

ISBN 978-0-8261-0765-7

1. Evaluation research (Social action programs) 2. Needs assessment. I. Lehmann, Peter, 1950– II. Title.

H62.S47296 2012

001.4—dc23

2012033689

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This book is dedicated to

Jeffrey and Alyssa.

May you always measure others by their strengths.


Contents

Foreword John G. Orme and Terri Combs-Orme

Foreword : Why We Need a More Positive Social Science in These Troubling Times

Corey L. M. Keyes

Contributors

Preface

Acknowledgments

xiii

xv

xix

xxi

xxv

1 Strengths and Psychotherapy 1

Catherine A. Simmons and Peter Lehmann

2 Incorporating Strengths Into Assessment and Evaluation: Striking

a Balance Between “What Is Right” and “What Is Wrong” 19

Catherine A. Simmons and Peter Lehmann

3 Selecting “Toolsfor Clinical Practice 33

Catherine A. Simmons

4 Happiness and Subjective Well-Being 53

Catherine A. Simmons

4.1. The Affectometer 2 (Kammann & Flett, 1983) 54

4.2. Flourishing Scale (Diener et al., 2009) 57

4.3. Love of Life Scale (Abdel-Khalek, 2007) 59

4.4. Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Well-Being Scale

(Vella-Brodrick & Allen, 1995) 62

4.5. Orientations to Happiness Scale

(Peterson, Park, & Seligman, 2005) 65

4.6. Oxford Happiness Questionnaire (Hills & Argyle, 2002) 68

4.7. Personal Wellbeing Index (International Wellbeing Group, 2006) 72

4.8. Psycho-Social Wellbeing Scale (O’Hare et al., 2002) 75

4.9. Satisfaction With Life Scale

(Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985) 79

4.10. Steen Happiness Index (Steen, 2005) 81

4.11. The Subjective Happiness Scale (Lyubomirsky & Lepper, 1999) 86

4.12. Temporal Satisfaction With Life Scale (Pavot, Diener, & Suh, 1998) 89

4.13. Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale (Tennant, et al., 2007) 91

Examples of Single-Item Satisfaction Scales and Visual

Analogue Scales (various authors) 93

Annotated Bibliography 95

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Contents

5 Health, Wellness, and Health-Related Quality of Life 99

Catherine A. Simmons

5.1. 15-Dimensional Health-Related Quality of Life Measure

(Sintonen, 2001) 100

5.2. The Assessment of Quality of Life

(Hawthorne, Richardson, & Osborne, 1999) 105

5.3. The Duke Health Profile (Parkerson, 2002) 111

5.4. Lawton Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Scale

(Lawton & Brody, 1969) 115

5.5. Leddy Healthiness Scale (Leddy, 1996, 2006) 118

5.6. McGill Quality of Life Questionnaire ©

(Cohen, Mount, Tomas, Mount, & Mount, 1996) 121

5.7. Measure Your Medical Outcome Profile (Paterson, 1996) 127

5.8. Mental Health Continuum–Short Form (Keyer, 2007) 132

5.9. Perceived Health Competence Scale

(Smith, Wallston,& Smith, 1995) 136

5.10. Perceived Wellness Survey (Adams, Bezner, & Steinhardt, 1997) 138

5.11. Wellness Beliefs Scale (Bishop & Yardley, 2010) 141

Examples of Single-Item Self-Rating of Health Scales (Various Authors) 143

Annotated Bibliography 144

6 Acceptance, Mindfulness, and Situational Affect 149

Catherine A. Simmons

6.1. Acceptance and Action Questionnaire Revised

(Bond et al., 2011) 150

6.2. Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire

(Baer, Smith, & Allen, 2006) 152

6.3. Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory–Short Form

(Walach et al., 2006) 156

6.4. Life Orientation Test–Revised

(Scheier, Carver, & Bridges, 1994) 159

6.5. Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (Brown & Ryan, 2003) 161

6.6. Positive and Negative Affect Schedule–Original Version

(Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988) 164

6.7. Positive and Negative Affect Schedule–Extended Version

(Watson & Clark 1999) 167

6.8. Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale (Cardaciotto et al., 2008) 170

6.9. Positive States of Mind (Adler, Horowitz,

Garcia, & Moyer, 1998) 172

6.10. Scale of Positive and Negative Experience (Diener et al., 2009) 174

6.11. Self-Compassion Scale (Neff, 2003) 176

6.12. Self–Other Four Immeasurables (Kraus & Sears, 2009) 179

6.13. Short Happiness and Affect Research Protocol (Stones et al., 1996) 182

Annotated Bibliography 184

7 Hope, Optimism, and Humor 187

Catherine A. Simmons and Nada Elias-Lambert

7.1. Adult Dispositional Hope Scale (Snyder et al., 1991) 188

7.2. Domain Specific Hope Scale (Sympson, 1997, 1999) 191

7.3. Generalized Expectancy for Success Scale–Revised

(Hale et al., 1992) 195


Contents

ix

7.4. Herth Hope Index (Herth, 1991, 1992) 197

7.5. Humor Styles Questionnaire (Martin et al., 2003) 200

7.6. Hunter Opinions and Personal Expectations Scales

(Nunn et al., 1996 and Lewin et al., 2008) 203

7.7. Inventory of Positive Psychological Attitudes

(Kass et al., 1991; Kass, 1998) 207

7.8. The Multidimensional Sense of Humor Scale

(Thorson & Powell, 1991, 1993a, 1993b) 211

7.9. State Hope Scale (Snyder et al., 1996) 214

Annotated Bibliography 216

8 Resilience, Coping, and Posttraumatic Growth 219

Catherine A. Simmons and Nada Elias-Lambert

8.1. Brief-COPE (Carver, 1997) 220

8.2. Brief Resilience Scale (Smith et al., 2008) 223

8.3. Brief Resilient Coping Scale (Sinclair &Wallston, 2004) 225

8.4. Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale

(Connor & Davidson, 2003) 227

8.5. COPE (Carver, Scheier, & Weintraub, 1989) 230

8.6. Coping Self-Efficacy Scale (Chesney et al., 2006) 234

8.7. Ego-Resiliency Scale 89 (Block & Kremen, 1996) 237

8.8. Proactive Coping Inventory (Greenglass, 1998;

Greenglass, Schwarzer, & Taubert,1999) 239

8.9. The Resilience Scale (Wagnild & Young, 1990, 1993) 243

8.10. Sense of Coherence (Antonovsky, 1987, 1993) 245

8.11. Stress-Related Growth Scale (Park, Cohen, & Murch, 1996) 251

Annotated Bibliography 254

9 Aspirations, Goals, and Values 257

Catherine A. Simmons

9.1. Achievement Goal Questionnaire (Elliot & McGregor, 2001) 258

9.2. Aspiration Index (Kasser & Ryan, 1996) 261

9.3. Foundational Value Scale (Jason et al., 2001) 269

9.4. Performance Goal and Learning Goal

Orientation Scales (Button, Matheu, & Zajac, 1996) 271

9.5. Personal Growth Initiative Scale-II (Robitschek, 2009;

Robitschek et al., 2010) 274

9.6. Personal Meaning Profile (Wong, 1998) 277

9.7. Portrait Values Questionnaire (Schwartz et al., 2001) 281

9.8. Valued Living Questionnaire (Wilson & DuFrene, 2008;

Wilson, Sandoz, Kitchens, & Roberts, 2010) 285

Annotated Bibliography 288

10 Self-Efficacy 291

Peter Lehmann and Catherine A. Simmons

10.1. Addiction Counseling Self-Efficacy Scale (Murdock,

Wendler, & Neilson, 2005) 292

10.2. Cancer Behavior Inventory–Brief Version(Heitzmann et al., 2011) 295

10.3. Care-Receiver Efficacy Scale (Cox et al., 2006) 298

10.4. Courage to Challenge Scale (Smith & Gray, 2009) 301

10.5. Domestic Violence Coping Self-Efficacy Measure

(Benight et al., 2004) 303


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Contents

10.6. Emotional Self-Efficacy Scale (Kirk, Schutte, & Hine, 2008) 306

10.7. Frequency of Forgetting Scale-10 (Zelinski & Gilewski, 2004) 309

10.8. New General Self-Efficacy Scale

(Chen, Gully, & Eden 2001) 312

10.9. RIS Elder Care Self-Efficacy Scale (Gottlieb & Rooney, 2003) 314

10.10. The Revised Scale for Care Giving Self-Efficacy (Steffen et al., 2002) 316

10.11. The Self-Efficacy for Learning Form–Abridged

(Zimmerman & Kitsantis, 2007) 320

Annotated Bibliography 321

11 Social Support, Social Relationships, and Emotional Intelligence 323

Kathryn Whitted and Catherine A. Simmons

11.1. Assessing Emotions Scale (Schutte et al., 1998) 324

11.2. Brief Emotional Intelligence Scale-10

(Davies, Lane, Devonport, & Scott, 2010) 327

11.3. Duke Social Support and Stress Scale (Parkerson, 2002) 329

11.4. Interpersonal Support Evaluation List-12 (Cohenet al., 1985) 332

11.5. Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support

(Zimet, Dahlem, Zimet, & Farley, 1988) 334

11.6. Perceived Social Support from Family and Friends Questionnaire

(Procidano et al., 2012) 337

11.7. Social Functioning Questionnaire

(Tyrer, Nur, Crawford, Karlsen, McLean, Rao, & 340

11.8. Social Network Index (Cohen, Doyle, Skoner,

Rabin, & Gwaltney, 1997) 343

11.9. Social Wellbeing Scales (Keyes, 1998) 347

11.10. Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire–Short Form

(Cooper &Petrides, 2010; Petrides, 2009; Petrides & Furnham, 2006) 350

Annotated Bibliography 353

12 Empowerment 355

Peter Lehmann and Catherine A. Simmons

12.1. Brief Sense of Community Scale

(Peterson, Speer, & McMillan, 2008) 356

12.2. Diabetes Empowerment Scale–Short Form

(Anderson et al., 2003) 358

12.3. The Empowerment Scale (Rogers, Ralph, & Mark, 2010) 360

12.4. Health Care Empowerment Questionnaire

(Gagnon et al., 2006) 364

12.5. Menon Empowerment Scale (Menon, 2001) 366

12.6. Personal Progress Scale–Revised

(Johnson, Worell, & Chandler, 2005) 368

12.7. Psychological Empowerment Scale (Akey, Marquis, & Ross, 2000) 371

12.8. Revised Community Organization Sense of Community Scale

(Peterson et al., 2008) 374

12.9. The Social Work Empowerment Scale (Frans, 1993) 376

Annotated Bibliography 378

13 Couples 381

Catherine A. Simmons and Peter Lehmann

13.1. Dyadic Coping Inventory (Bodenmann, 2008;

Ledermann et al., 2010) 382


Contents

xi

13.2. Interpersonal Reactivity Index for Couples

(Péloquin & Lafontaine, 2010) 386

13.3. Love Attitudes Scale-Short Form (Hendrick,

Hendrick, & Dickie, 1998) 389

13.4. A Measure of Expectations for Partner

(McNulty & Karney, 2004) 392

13.5. The New Sexual Satisfaction Scale

(Štulhofer, Buško, & Brouillard, 2010) 394

13.6. Pinney Sexual Satisfaction Inventory

(Pinney, Gerrard, & Denney, 1987) 396

13.7. Quality of Marriage Index (Norton, 1983) 398

13.8. Relationship Rating Form (Davis & Todd, 1982, 1985) 400

13.9. Satisfaction With Love Life Scale (Néto, 2005) 406

13.10. Sexual Agreement Investment Scale (Neilands et al., 2010) 408

13.11. Trust Scale (Rempel, Holmes, & Zanna, 1985) 410

Annotated Bibliography 412

14 Families 415

Catherine A. Simmons and Peter Lehmann

14.1. McMaster Family Assessment Device

(Epstein, Baldwin, & Bishop, 1983) 416

14.2. General Scale of Parental Self-Efficacy Beliefs

(Meunier & Roskam, 2009) 420

14.3. Inventory of Family Protective Factors

(Gardner et al., 2008) 423

14.4. Lum Emotional Availability of Parents (Lum & Phares, 2005) 426

14.5. Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Work–Family Positive Spillover

(Hanson, Hammer, & Colton, 2006) 428

14.6. Parent Happiness With Youth Scale

(Donohue et al., 2001) 431

14.7. Parenting Sense of Competence Scale (Gibaud-Wallston,

1978; Gibaud-Wallston & Wandersman, 1978;

Johnston & Mash, 1989) 433

14.8. Perceived Maternal Parenting Self-Efficacy (Barnes &

Adamson-Macedo, 2007) 436

14.9. Perceived Self-Efficacy Interview for First-Time Fathers

(Thomas, Freely, & Grier, 2009) 439

14.10. Perceived Self-Efficacy Scales (Filial, Marital, Parental, and

Collective Family) (Caprara, Regalia, Scabini, Barbarenelli, &

Bandura, 2004) 440

14.11. Strengths-Based Practices Inventory

(Green, McAllister, & Tarte, 2004) 445

14.12. Systematic Clinical Outcome and Routine Evaluation-28

(Cahill et al., 2010) 447

Annotated Bibliography 451

15 Children and Adolescents 453

Catherine A. Simmons and Peter Lehman

15.1. Adolescent Relapse Coping Questionnaire

(Myers & Brown, 1996) 454

15.2. Adolescent Self-Regulatory Inventory (Moilanen, 2007) 458


xii

Contents

15.3. Adolescent Social Self-Efficacy Scale (Connolly, 1989) 461

15.4. Child and Adolescent Wellness Scale

(Copeland, Nelson, & Traughber, 2010) 463

15.5. Child and Youth Resilience Measure–28

(Resilience Research Center, 2009) 465

15.6. Child Perceived Self-Efficacy Scale

(Fertman & Primack, 2009) 468

15.7. Children’s Hope Scale (Snyder et al., 1997) 470

15.8. Clinical Assessment Package for Client Risks and Strengths

(Gilgun, 1999) 473

15.9. Condom Self-Efficacy Use Scale (Hanna, 1999) 476

15.10. Drinking Refusal Self-Efficacy Questionnaire–Revised Adolescent

(Young et al., 2007) 478

15.11. KidCOPE (Spirito, Stark, & Williams, 1988) 481

15.12. Life Satisfaction Scale for Problem Youth

(Donohue et al., 2003) 484

15.13. Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale

(Huebner, 1994) and the Brief Multidimensional Students’

Life Satisfaction Scale (Huebner, 1994) 486

15.14. Peer Aggression Coping Self-Efficacy Scale

(Singh & Bussey, 2009) 490

15.15. Physical Activity/Healthy Food Efficacy Scale for Children

(Perry et al., 2008) 494

15.16. Positive and Negative Affect Schedule for Children

(Laurent et al., 1999) 498

15.17. Revised Posttraumatic Growth Inventory for Children

(Kilmer et al., 2009) 501

15.18. Satisfaction With Life Scale for Children (Gadermann,

Guhn, & Zumbo, 2011; Gadermann & Schonert-Reichl, 2010) 504

15.19. Self-Esteem Questionnaire (DuBois, Felner, Brand,

Phillips, & Lease, 1996) 506

15.20. Sociopolitical Control Scale for Youth (Peterson et al., 2011) 509

15.21. Youth Competency Assessment

(Mackin, Weller, & Tarte, 2004) 511

15.22. Youth Coping Responses Inventory

(Hernandez, Vigna, & Kelley, 2010) 514

15.23. Youth Empowerment Scale–Mental Health

(Walker et al., 2010) 517

15.24. Youth Happiness With Parents Scale

(DeCato, Donohue, Azrin, & Teichner, 2001) 520

Annotated Bibliography 522

Index 525


Foreword

As Sir Winston Churchill wryly observed, “However beautiful the strategy, you should

occasionally look at the results.” To do this, practitioners and researchers in the helping

professions need psychometrically sound, yet practical measures that suit their

purposes.

The good news is that hundreds—if not thousands—of measures have been developed,

tested, and published that allow practitioners, researchers, and educators from

diverse helping professions to “look at the results.” The bad news is that the number of

available measures has become so large that oftentimes it is difficult for busy practitioners

and researchers to sift through the many available measures and select the ones that are

psychometrically sound, practical, and best for their purposes.

Fortunately, in the past 20 years, numerous books have been published that review,

critique, and sometimes reproduce measures for practice and research (see Outcome-

Informed, Evidence-Based Practice for a comprehensive list of these books published since

2000: Orme & Combs-Orme, 2012). Some of these books focus on particular problem

areas (e.g., alcohol problems, eating disorders, anxiety). Others focus on areas of practice

(e.g., mental health, rehabilitation, health care). Some focus on particular populations

(e.g., children and adolescents, the aging). Still others focus on particular professions or

disciplines (e.g., social work, psychiatry, psychology). Such books provide rich resources

for busy practitioners and researchers.

Unfortunately, although most helping professionals recognize the importance of client

strengths, resources, capabilities, and other positive qualities, it can be difficult to find

and select measures of these important constructs. This can be especially difficult because

measures of these constructs have been developed by researchers working in diverse disciplines,

and strengths-based measurement is a relatively new area in some respects. Very few,

if any, books have systematically pulled these measures together in one place and provided

a framework for selecting and evaluating them. Tools for Strengths-Based Assessment and

Evaluation fills this important gap.

A cornerstone of evidence-based practice, the new holy grail of social work, is to employ

the methods and measures shown by evidence to be the most effective. Up until the publication

of this book, the social worker who has wanted to document his or her clients’

strengths has faced a difficult and labor-intensive process in locating the most appropriate

measures, let alone evaluating the evidence for their reliability and validity. Clearly, the

realities of 21st-century social work practice make this a formidable task.

Now, Drs. Simmons and Lehmann have given all of us in the helping professions—

practitioners and researchers alike—a comprehensive resource for finding and selecting

psychometrically sound, practical strengths-based measures that we can use not only to

“look at the results,” but to do so in a way that we “measure others by their strengths.” We

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Foreword

look forward to seeing this invaluable resource take its place with other must-have tools on

every social worker’s desk in the coming years.

REFERENCE

Orme, J. G., & Combs-Orme, T. (2012). Outcome-informed, evidence-based practice. Boston, MA: Pearson

Education.

John G. Orme, PhD, MSW

Professor

University of Tennessee

Knoxville, Tennessee

Terri Combs-Orme, PhD

The Urban Child Institute Endowed Professor

University of Tennessee

Knoxville, Tennessee


Foreword

Why We Need a More Positive Social

Science in These Troubling Times

All social sciences—sociology, anthropology, economics, political science, and social

work—have included what could be described as the study of the pursuit of well-being

(i.e., happiness, a good or better life, justice, and equality). However, until very recently,

most research equated this well-being with the absence of illness, disease, injustice, or

inequality.

Of all social sciences, sociology and social work have a “social problems” focus that

seeks to understand how and why certain groups of individuals in a society bear the brunt

of inequality and injustice. In seeking to understand the causes of injustice and inequality,

sociology and social work aim to provide practitioners with the tools to alleviate these

social problems and the suffering that comes from being in their grip. This focus on social

problems is laudable and justified—people who are exposed chronically or more frequently

to it live shorter lives, live those shorter lives with more physical disease and mental illness,

and are more likely to experience a litany of indignities (e.g., racism, sexism, etc.) and

maladies (e.g., violence, substandard housing, unemployment or underemployment, etc.).

Worse yet, all indications are that (income) inequality has been increasing in the United

States and various nations around the globe. This means that more people suffer the indignities

of being at the lower end of inequality.

Today, the “ethical” social sciences—that is, those driven by the ideals of justice and

equality for all, such as sociology and social work—are needed more than ever because

there are more social problems in number, or at least in the degree of disparity between

the richest and poorest. Put another way, we need to focus on social problems, and that

is the reason I want to also include a greater focus on well-being as being more than the

absence of bad things. The reason is simple: Inequality and injustice create illness, disease,

disability, and shorter lives by “robbing” people of their innate strength, capabilities, wellbeing,

hope, and dignity.

Let me make the point from three of my recent pieces of published research. The first

showed that losses of positive mental health over a 10-year period in U.S. adults resulted

in increased risk of mental illness, while gains in it resulted in decreased risk of mental illness.

Next, and most recently, we published research showing that adults in 1995 who had

less than “flourishing” well-being had just over a 60% increased risk of premature mortality

over the subsequent 10-year period, controlling for age, sex, education, race, body

mass index, any cancers, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, stroke, smoking, and lack of exercise.

At all ages and for both males and females, adults who were “flourishing”—which is the

combination of higher emotional well-being, such as feeling satisfied with life, combined

with a higher level of functioning well in life (e.g., more integrated, a greater purpose in

life)—had reduced risk of death. Last, the Black population (i.e., African Americans and

Caribbean Blacks) has a lower rate of “common” mental disorders, such a as anxiety and

depression, than the White (non-Hispanic) population. Most would predict that Blacks,

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Foreword

who suffer more inequality and discrimination, would have higher rates of mental illness

than Whites—they do not. The reason for this paradox appears best explained by the fact

that we find that Blacks are more likely to be flourishing than Whites, and that is before

adjusting for inequality and discrimination. After adjusting for inequality and discrimination,

Blacks had an even higher level of flourishing than Whites.

What does this mean? First, the Black population is exhibiting a form of resilience in

the face of adversity. Were it not for this mental resilience in maintaining flourishing in the

face of inequality, more Blacks would be at risk for mental illness and premature mortality.

Second, inequality and discrimination erode well-being; greater inequality and more discrimination

prevent more Blacks from having even better mental health. In other words,

if it were not for greater inequality and discrimination faced by racial minorities in this

country, especially and historically Blacks, more Blacks would be flourishing in life.

So, the focus on well-being (i.e., the presence or absence of good feelings and good

functioning) allows us to discern stories of strength and resilience. Such stories do not

justify a government and its people doing nothing about the structural forms of inequality

and racism. Instead, it means we all can learn about our shared human capacity for

strength even in the worse of circumstances, and such stories are as important to tell for

racial and ethnic minorities as it is to remember Victor Frankl’s story—in his book, Man’s

Search for Meaning—of strength and resilience, which he witnesses in himself and his fellow

Jews who survived the horrors of the Nazi extermination camps. The second implication

is that the focus on well-being allows scientists and practitioners to focus on all of the

things that are being taken from people when they must suffer inequality and injustice. If

happiness in the form of flourishing is what we as a people have the right to pursue, then

a nation cannot tolerate policies that permit inequality and discrimination that prevent it

from happening.

Simply put, inequality and injustice create many of the negative things in our lives—

premature death, mental illness, and so on—when they have stripped us of our reasons

for living, our well-being, that which makes life and the struggle for it worthwhile. If

inequality and discrimination were created, if only in part, by the policies of a government

(e.g., taxation policies), the study of well-being has shown that the government has

become destructive of the inalienable right to pursue well-being (aka, “happiness”). After

declaring the pursuit of happiness as an inalienable right, the founders of this country went

on to say:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just

powers from the consent of the governed—That whenever any Form of Government becomes

destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and

to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its

powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

It took a long time to get to a place where the social sciences were comfortable with

colleagues studying well-being or happiness (in truth, I cannot be certain my colleagues

are really comfortable with it just yet). Yet, it is important to understand what has brought

us to this point in history. Several social and scientific trends over the past 50 years have

helped to change the course of research on human well-being, culminating in what I

would call positive social science, defined simply as the scientific field devoted to the study

of optimal human functioning and the conditions that allow all people to pursue it.

First, the study of stress and health matured to include models of individuals’ perceptions

of stress and their coping strategies. People are not helpless in the face of stress;

some cope well with it. Second, the research field of gerontology matured, along with

the increasing life expectancy of the population, to include the study of successful aging,

which provided conceptions of positive human development in the face of aging. In other

words, aging is not all downhill. Third, the period of humanism and social welfare that


Foreword

xvii

characterized the 1960s and 1970s provided a strong rationale for the study of how individuals

view the quality of their lives and how to improve it. In other words, our response

to World War II was to take individuals’ perspectives on their quality of life more serious.

Fourth, the study of resilience emerged during the 1970s and has thrived since the investigation

of protective factors and assets that enable usual or exceptional development under

conditions of risk and adversity. Put simply, adversity does not make wimps of us all; many

of us rise to the occasion and go on to live normal and sometimes extraordinary lives.

Understanding the human capacity—of all humans, regardless of their situation in

life—to struggle and sometimes flourish allows all of us to create better environments;

indeed, perhaps a better form of government. It also permits us to challenge all of us to be

healthier and better people, not only in the face of problems, but even when life is relatively

free of the obstacles of injustice and inequality. For these reasons, all of us who labor

in the “ethical” social sciences—sociology and social work—should not fear that by shining

more light on well-being in these troubling times of growing inequality and disparities,

we have lost our soul—it adds to the very ethical quest of social work and sociology.

To that end, Simmons and Lehmann have done a superb job in bringing the perspective

and measures of “well-being” to their field of social work. Their book describes why

and how to incorporate a person’s strengths into social work assessment and evaluation.

They assemble over 140 valid and reliable measurement instruments. This volume has

made the important work of social work even more relevant to these troubling times.

Corey Keyes, PhD

Associate Professor

Department of Sociology

Emory University

Atlanta, Georgia


Contributors

Nada Elias-Lambert, PhD Candidate, LMSW

University of Texas at Arlington

School of Social Work

Arlington, Texas

Kathryn Whitted, PhD

University of Memphis

Department of Social Work

Memphis, Tennessee

xix


Preface

Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.

—GALILEO GALILEI

In the helping professions assessment is the process of acquiring an understanding of the

nature, quality, ability, and/or concerns of someone or something (e.g., Barker, 2006),

while evaluation is the systematic investigation into the effectiveness of an intervention

(Bloom, Fischer, & Orme, 2006). Both assessment and evaluation use a range of strategies

to describe, analyze, categorize, and otherwise understand a particular person, family,

group, and/or situation. All of these strategies depend on measurement in some way. In

fact, it has repeatedly been noted that measurement is one of the most important components

of the behavioral sciences (e.g., Cronbach & Meehl, 1955; Diener, 2009; Fischer

& Corcoran, 2007a, 2007b; McDowell, 2006; Orme & Combs-Orme, 2012; Pedhazur

& Schmelkn, 1991; Streiner & Norman, 2008). Without measurement, assessment and

evaluation are not possible.

Traditionally assessment and evaluation have focused on what goes wrong for clients

including their problems, illnesses, and/or pathologies (e.g., Cowen, 1999; Jordan &

Franklin, 2003; Tedeschi & Kilmer, 2005). Since most clients come to see helping professionals

as those who fix or at least work on their problems, this makes sense. Undeniably,

funders are highly interested in the progress made toward this end. For this reason, numerous

books, journals, websites, and other resources are available to help practitioners and

researchers find tools to measure symptoms, problem behaviors, emotional concerns,

deficits, functional difficulties, and pathologies (i.e., Fischer & Corcoran, 2007a, 2007b;

Hudson, 1997; Keyser, 2005; Olin & Keatinge, 1998; Spies, Geisinger, & Carlson, 2010).

Such resources are important and should not be minimized. However, most helping professionals

recognize the importance of also including strengths, resources, capabilities, and

other positive qualities in assessment, intervention, and evaluation. Although the previously

cited resources include an array of instruments that measure strengths, it is not

their primary focus. In fact, only a few resources concentrate on models and instruments

designed to measure positive attributes (for two excellent examples please see Lopez &

Snyder, 2003 and Parkinson, 2007).

The purpose of this academic text is to expand the resources available to helping

professionals who want to measure strengths as part of the assessment and evaluation

process. It is not our intent to answer all of the questions practitioners and researchers

have about how to incorporate strengths into assessment, intervention, and evaluation.

Nor do we present a comprehensive theoretic model that advocates any one approach

to assessment and intervention over any other. Instead, the instruments included in this

compendium represent a wide range of theoretical approaches and were written by a

diverse array of professionals including social workers, psychologists, nurses, physicians,

and sociologists.

xxi


xxii

Preface

Instead of presenting one theoretical stance or trying to be all things to all people, our

purpose is fairly straightforward: to provide a compendium of instruments that measure

a range of positive attributes accurately and objectively, in a straightforward manner that

does not require a great deal of additional work. The main focus is to provide tools that

give a fairly clear picture of an individual’s strengths while being easy to complete, score,

and interpret.

Before using the instruments in this text it is important to define strengths and understand

what a strengths perspective is and what it is not. To do this the first chapter provides

a broad conceptual overview of the constructs inherent to strengths-based assessment and

evaluation. The second chapter discusses the relevance of strengths in a format that highlights

the need for a balance and includes a few selected strategies that may be useful.

The third chapter reviews the elements of measurement from conceptualization through

understanding psychometric qualities and selecting the right tool for assessment and evaluation.

For many, the content of the first three chapters will be a review. However, for some,

the concepts will be novel and fresh. To both groups, the 140 plus instruments included

and discussed in the subsequent 12 chapters will likely be helpful resources to strengthsbased

research and practice.

The chapters are grouped according to similarity of the constructs measured. Although

different theoretical approaches label and group these constructs differently, we chose to

cluster instruments based on the framework outlined in Chapters 1 and 2 of this book.

To aid the reader, and improve the usefulness of this text, many of these instruments

are also digitally available from Springer Publishing Company at www.springerpub.

com/simmons-instruments. It is our greatest hope that this resource will be a helpful

addition to the libraries of researchers, educators, and clinicians who want to incorporate

strengths into the assessment and evaluation process.

Catherine A. Simmons

REFERENCES

Barker, R. L. (2006). The social work dictionary (5th ed.). Washington, DC: NASW Press.

Bloom, M., Fischer, J., & Orme, J. (2006). Evaluating practice: Guidelines for the accountable professional (5th ed.).

Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Cowen, E. L. (1999). In sickness and in health: Primary prevention’s vows revisited. In D. Cicchetti & S. L. Toth

(Eds.), Rochester symposium on developmental psychopathology (Vol. 9, pp. 1–24). Rochester, NY: University

of Rochester Press.

Cronbach, L. J., & Meehl, P. E. (1955). Construct validity in psychological tests. Psychological Bulletin, 52(4),

281–302.

Diener, E. (2009). Introduction—Measuring well-being: Collected theory and review works. In E. Diener & E.

Diener (Eds.), Assessing well-being: The collected works of Ed Diener (pp. 1–6). New York, NY: Springer Science

+ Business Media.

Fischer, J., & Corcoran, K. (2007a). Measures for clinical practice and research: A sourcebook Vol. 1, couples, families,

and children (4th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford.

Fischer, J., & Corcoran, K. (2007b). Measures for clinical practice and research: A sourcebook Vol. 2, adults (4th ed.).

New York, NY: Oxford.

Hudson, W. W. (1997). Walmyr assessment scales. Tallahassee, FL: Walmyr.

Jordan, C., & Franklin, C. (2003). Clinical assessment for social workers: Quantitative and qualitative methods. Chicago,

IL: Lyceum.

Keyser, D. J. (Ed.). (2005). Test critiques (Vol. 11). Austin, TX: PRO-ED.

Lopez, S. J., & Snyder, C. R. (Eds.). (2003). Positive psychological assessment: A handbook of models and measures.

Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

McDowell, I. (2006). Measuring health: A guide to rating scales and questionnaires (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford.

Olin, J. T., & Keating, C. (1998). Rapid psychological assessments. New York, NY: Wiley.

Orme, J. G., & Combs-Orme, T. (2012). Outcome-informed evidence based practice. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Parkinson, J. (2007, December). Review of scales of positive mental health validated for use with adults in the UK:

Technical report. Edinburgh: Health Scotland.


Preface

xxiii

Pedhazur, E. J., & Schmelkin, L. P. (1991). Measurement, design, and analysis: An integrated approach. Hillsdale, NJ:

Lawrence Erlbaum.

Spies, R. A., Geisinger, K. F., & Carlson, J. F. (Eds.). (2010). The eighteenth mental measurements yearbook. Lincoln,

NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements.

Streiner, D. L., & Norman, G. R. (2008). Health measurement scales: A practical guide to their development and use

(4th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford.

Tedeschi, R. G., & Kilmer, R. P. (2005). Assessing strengths, resilience, and growth to guide clinical interventions.

Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 36(3), 230–237.


Acknowledgments

It is important to acknowledge the people who gave me support and made this book possible.

First and foremost, I need to thank my husband Matt and my mother Dolly for

giving me the love, support, and time needed to complete this very large project. Without

their patience and sacrifice, this book would not be published. I also want to thank my

graduate assistant Náthali Blackwell for going above and beyond to fact check, edit, and

find even the most obscure literature. Thank you also goes to my professional colleagues

who helped with the final read through, and my director Jerome Blakemore for helping

me find the time needed to finish this book. Finally, I want thank the staff at Springer

Publishing Company for the help and guidance they gave me throughout this process. Of

special note is the guidance provided by Katie Corasaniti and the work she put into making

sure the permissions were “rock solid.” It is my greatest hope that the work and the

sacrifices make a difference.

Catherine A. Simmons

To Peter Jaffe, PhD, father, husband, officer for the Order of Canada, teacher, practitioner,

mentor, and strengths-builder; to Delphine, Daley, and Rory—forever strong shoulders

I can always count on.

Peter Lehmann

xxv


Strengths and Psychotherapy

Catherine A. Simmons and Peter Lehmann

1

Use what talents you possess, the woods will be very silent if

no birds sang there except those that sang best.

—HENRY VAN DYKE

Drawing attention to strengths, health, and those things that are going right with clients

has been and continues to be a departure from traditional thinking within the helping professions

(e.g., Cowen, 1999; Maddux, 2008; McLaren, 2010a; Orlinsky, 2006; Tedeschi &

Kilmer, 2005). Although seen as foundational to positive psychology and strengths-based

social work, a focus on positive attributes is broader in origin, more encompassing, and

far more critical to the helping professions than just these two movements. Without question,

there is an interest at a global level (see the burgeoning literature on social capital

and human strengths: e.g., Scheufele & Shah, 2000; Yip et al., 2007) to move away from

a focus on human deficits toward a convergence of well-being and individual strengths.

In this chapter, an overview is presented that encompasses multiple fields and models that

share one common thread, an interest in strengths. To start this discussion, it is important

to provide a definition.

STRENGTHS DEFINED

The word strength represents a construct that has a wide array of meanings in the English

language. To illustrate, the Oxford online dictionary provides a lengthy definition that

includes (a) “a good or beneficial quality or attribute of a person or thing,” (b) “physical

power and energy,” (c) “the emotional or mental qualities necessary in dealing with situations

or events that are distressing or difficult,” (d) “the capacity of an object or substance

to withstand great force or pressure,” and (e) “the influence or power possessed by a person,

organization, or country” (Strength, n.d.). From these nontherapeutic definitions,

helping professionals have expanded and used the word to encompass a range of positive

attributes. A few of these include:

■ A person’s strengths are a combination of his or her talents, knowledge, and skills.

“Talents are naturally recurring patterns of thoughts, feeling and behavior . . . . Knowledge

consists of facts and lessons learned . . . . Skills are the steps of an activity” (Buckingham

& Clifton, 2001, p. 29).

■ “. . . a strength is a pre-existing capacity for a particular way of behaving, thinking, or

feeling that is authentic and energizing to the user, and enables optimal functioning,

development and performance” (Linley, 2008, p. 9).

■ “Strengths are natural predispositions that each of us have—so natural, we argue, that

they are evolved adaptations” (Linley & Burns, 2010, p. 4).

■ “Strengths can be defined as people’s intellectual, physical, and interpersonal skills, capacities,

interests and motivations” (Mallucio, 1981 as cited in McCashen, 2005, p. 7).

■ “Resources in people’s environment such as family, friends, neighbors, colleagues,

material resources and so on are also considered strengths. Often overlooked when

1


2 Tools for Strengths-Based Assessment and Evaluation

defining strengths, however, are people’s dreams, aspirations, and hopes” (McCashen,

2005, pp. 7–8).

■ “Character strengths can be defined as positive traits reflected in thoughts, feelings, and

behaviors. They exist in degrees and can be measured as individual differences” (Park,

Peterson, & Seligman, 2004, p. 603).

Each of these definitions conceptualizes a person’s strengths in different, yet strikingly

similar, ways. Overriding commonalities are that strengths are multifaceted; related to

inner power, unique to each individual; and include positive attributes, abilities, thoughts,

behaviors, and resources. Strengths are vital components of the human condition, which

should be considered when working with people in any capacity (i.e., work, education,

interpersonal relationships, psychotherapy, etc.).

FOCUSING ON A PERSON’S STRENGTHS

Focusing on a person’s strengths is not unique to a single therapeutic theory, nor is it a model

that attempts to explain, describe, or logically represent a particular aspect, situation, or

occurrence within the social sciences. Instead, focusing on strengths should be thought of as

a perspective—an overarching way to view the helping process. Saleebey (2006) eloquently

states that using a strengths perspective “provides us with a slant on the world, built of

words and principles . . . it is a lens through which we choose to perceive and appreciate” (p.

16). It is an orientation that emphasizes a person’s resources, capabilities, support systems,

and motivations to meet challenges and overcome adversity (e.g., Barker, 2006). Focusing

on a person’s strengths is not about ignoring the existence of real problems or illnesses

(Saleebey, 1992, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2008, 2011). Instead, a strengths perspective emphasizes

abilities, social networks, positive attributes, knowledge, skills, talents, and resources to

help achieve and maintain individual and social well-being. Utilizing a strengths perspective

in practice starts by assessing the inherent strengths of a person, a family, a group, or an

organization, then builds on these strengths to aid in recovery and empowerment. Saleebey

(2006) describes the process as being uncomplicated yet not easy:

The formula is simple: mobilize clients’ strengths (talents, knowledge, capacities, resources)

in the service of addressing their goals and visions and the clients will have a

better quality of life on their terms. Though the recipe is uncomplicated, as you will see,

the work is hard. (p. 1)

The simple recipe for incorporating strengths into the language of change, growth,

and understanding is prevalent across a wide range of helping professions. As an example,

the social worker Saleebey (1996) conceptualizes strengths as building blocks that help us

make a swing away from deficits toward competence. The psychologist Strümpfer (2005)

notes that the idea of human strengths has a place because we cannot understand normal

and extraordinary function within a problem-oriented framework. The sociologist Keyes

(2006) identifies well-being as a form of human capital, while physical and mental health

are “viewed among the greatest sources of wealth . . . tied to the growth and development of

nations” (p. 5). The World Health Organization (WHO, 2005) focuses on the promotion

and advocacy of healthy behaviors that help people realize their full potential. From each

of these disciplines, finding ways to incorporate strengths into the equation is helping to

broaden understanding about the complexity of human behavior and identify effective

ways to improve the human condition. Interestingly, such concepts are nothing new.

A HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Academic discussion about the importance of individual strengths, including virtuous

character, doing good things, and leading fulfilling lives, has a long historic tradition.


1 Strengths and Psychotherapy 3

Walsh (2001) noted more than 2,000 years of practical and theoretical exploration into

optimal human functioning going back to ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, as well

as early scholars of Christianity, Buddhism, Yoga, and Chinese medicine. For example, in

the Nicomachean Ethics, the ancient philosopher Aristotle (1998/1925/350 BCE) emphasized

the importance of developing a virtuous character and the ability of humans to do so.

Over 1,500 years later, the Christian scholar Thomas Aquinas (1981/1920/1265–1274)

wrote extensively about virtue and the ability of humans to do and promote good. Ancient

Chinese healers viewed health as the natural order, while their role was to increase natural

resistance and resilience (Strümpfer, 2005).

More recently, the origin of modern psychology discusses the part that transcendent

experiences play in optimal human functioning (James, 1902/1958), that basic life tendencies

work toward the fulfillment of life (Bühler, 1935), and how the concept of individuation

and self-realization helps people achieve their potential (Jung, 1933, 1938). In the

mid-20th century, the World Health Organization defined health as “a state of complete

physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”

(World Health Organization, 1946, p. 1). Jahoda (1958) drew on all of these ideas to spell

out the positive components of mental health in a manner that sharply contrasted the

prevailing (and strongly Freudian) explanation of mental health as the absence of negative

symptomatology such as depression, anxiety, and neuroticism.

As the fields of modern psychology and mental health have emerged, similar themes

have been addressed by the humanistic movement’s idea of inherent potential (Bugental,

1964), Frankl’s (1967) concept of self-transcendence, Maslow’s (1943, 1968) self-actualization,

and Rogers’ (1961) ideas about the fully functioning person. Such changes have

included the introduction of new vocabulary to explicate positive qualities. For example,

Hollister (1967) introduced the concept of strens to describe experiences that enhance or

strengthen people in education. Likewise, Antonovsky (1979) used the term salutogenesis

to describe the processes that contribute to healthy physical and psychological outcomes,

which is the opposite of a focus on dysfunction called pathogenesis. Despite the attention

paid by many of the great scholars to human potential, little integration has existed between

helping professionals and academics operating from these paradigms, until recently (Linley

& Joseph, 2004). Only with the emergence of movements such as strengths-based social

work (e.g., Corcoran, 2005; Saleebey, 1992, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2008, 2011) and positive

psychology (e.g., Seligman, 1998, 2002; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000) has the

mental health profession been challenged to focus on positive attributes as a means to elevate

those that are problematic.

STRENGTHS-BASED SOCIAL WORK

There is perhaps no stronger ally in the demarcation of strengths than that found within

the field of social work. The historical identification of strengths within social work practice

dates back to the early settlement house movement. For example, Rapp, Saleebey, and

Sullivan (2005) dated early references to strengths in quoting Jane Addams (1902), one of

the founders of social work:

We are gradually requiring the educator that he [sic] shall free the powers of each man and

connect him with the rest of life. We ask this not merely because it is the man’s right to be

thus connected but because we have become convinced that the social order cannot afford

to get along without his special contribution. (p. 178)

The writing of Jane Addams provides an early account of the emphasis social work

places on strengths. Building on the work of Jane Addams, the authors McMillen, Morris,

and Sherraden (2004) further traced an early generation of practitioners who identified the

importance of constructive growth experiences (Robinson, 1930; Smalley, 1971), the need to


4 Tools for Strengths-Based Assessment and Evaluation

work with human capacities using client-centered casework (Towle, 1954), supporting personal

growth (Hamilton, 1940), capacity building in environments (Compton & Galloway,

1989, 1999), the early promising model of solution-focused brief therapy (De Shazer, 1985),

and the more current strengths and skills building model (Corcoran, 2005).

Development of a strengths-based approach within social work has been popularized

by Saleebey’s edited collection of readings titled The Strengths Perspective in Social Work

Practice (1992; 2nd ed., 1996; 3rd ed., 2001; 4th ed., 2006; 5th ed., 2008; 6th ed., 2011),

which has become a mainstay of the profession. Indeed, strength building is considered an

integral part of the deeply embedded values of social work that continues to the present

day (e.g., McMillen et al., 2004; Rapp et al., 2005; Weick, Rapp, Sullivan, & Kirsthardt,

1989).

In spite of the distinguished history and popularization of strengths-based social work,

it purposefully defies a need to develop a theory or pursue identifying itself as a model.

To this end, the strengths approach identifies itself as a perspective (Saleebey, 1992, 1996,

2001, 2006, 2008, 2011) and an attitude/frame (Blundo, 2001) that to some extent has

become a set of underlying assumptions used to guide social work practice. Regardless

of the criticisms directed toward the strengths-based perspective (mostly for it’s lack of

empirical support: e.g., Gray, 2011; Staudt, Howard, & Drake, 2001), the popularity of

using strengths is almost at a consensus level among professionals in all facets of social

work practice, accrediting bodies, and schools of social work around the world. What

appears to have evolved is a model of practice that has been summarized by the six practice

hallmarks illustrated in Box 1.1 (Rapp et al., 2005). These hallmarks are uniquely adapted

to the context of the social work profession and remain close to the historical foundation

from which they were developed. Indeed, strengths-based practice is so integrated into the

profession that it is likened to a value stance that represents “good basic social work practice”

(Staudt et al., 2001, p. 18) and not a unique practice model.

POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY

Positive psychology developed largely in reaction to the proliferation of the disease model

within psychology and psychiatry professions (Maddux, 2008; Seligman, Steen, Park, &

Peterson, 2005a, 2005b). The decisive change began in 1998 when the newly elected president

of the American Psychological Association, Martin Seligman, announced that one

of his presidential initiatives was to spearhead the empirical study of “what actions lead

to well-being, to positive individuals, to flourishing communities, and to a just society”

(Fowler, Seligman, & Koocher, 1999, p. 560). In his presidential address, Seligman pointed

out that since World War II psychology has focused largely on pathology, not well-being.

Although focusing on the identification and treatment of mental illness has resulted in

effective treatments and even cures for a range of psychological diseases, Seligman argued

that healing disease is only part of psychology’s mission. More broadly, psychology is about

making the lives of all people better. In a special issue of the journal American Psychologist

devoted to positive psychology, Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi (2000) stated that psychology

was not producing enough “knowledge of what makes life worth living” (p. 5).

They called for a revolutionary change within the field, one that would make positive psychology

an object of intervention and scientific study. Since then, the mission of positive

psychology has centered in three domains of optimal development: (a) positive subjective

experience (happiness, pleasure, gratification, fulfillment), (b) positive individual traits

(strengths of character, talents, interests, values), and (c) positive institutions and communities

(families, schools, institutions, businesses, societies) that support the first two (e.g.,

Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000; Seligman et al., 2005a, 2005b).

In spite of its long list of detractors (e.g., Coyne & Tennen, 2010; Coyne, Tennen, &

Ranchor, 2010; Ehrenreich, 2009; Held, 2002, 2005; Kristjánsson, 2010; Lazarus, 2003),


1 Strengths and Psychotherapy 5

BOX 1.1 ■ The six hallmarks of strengths-based social work practice.

Strengths-based social work practice ...

1. Is goal-oriented

2. Utilizes systematic assessment of strengths

3. Sees the environment as rich in resources

4. Uses explicit methods for incorporating client and environmental strengths in setting

and attaining goals

5. Views the therapeutic relationship as accepting, purposeful, empathetic, and

hope-inducing

6. Makes it central to provide meaningful choices to the client and give them (the

client) the authority to choose

Adapted from Rapp et al. (2005).

the importance and relevance of positive psychology cannot be underemphasized. The

empirical study of positive psychology has since rapidly grown to involve hundreds of

researchers around the world. To illustrate, this accumulation of worldwide information

between 1999 and 2010 grew to include at least 17 special journal issues, millions of dollars

devoted to research/development, annual conferences, hundreds of journal articles,

and both graduate and undergraduate courses and degree programs specializing in positive

psychology (e.g., Gable & Haidt, 2005; Wood & Tarrier, 2010).

The early mission of positive psychology is very much within reach. The swift and

early acceleration of the growing field sometimes labeled “happiology” (Peterson, 2006,

p. 7) has been replaced by vibrant, cutting-edge approaches that offer an alternative perspective

of the human condition. The shift has led to a sizeable body of theoretical models

with strong empirical support. Such conceptual advances are found in the areas of happiness

(e.g., Linley, 2008; Peterson, 2006; Seligman, 2002), gratitude (e.g., Bono, Emmons,

& McCullough, 2004; Wood, Froh, & Geraghty, 2010), hope (e.g., Gallagher & Lopez,

2009; Lopez et al., 2004; Weis, 2010), positive emotions (e.g., Cohn, Fredrickson, Brown,

Mikels, & Conway, 2009; Fredrickson, 2006, 2008), resilience (e.g., Ungar, Toste, &

Heath, 2010; Yates & Masten, 2004), optimism (e.g., Gallagher & Lopez, 2009), forgiveness

(e.g., Miller & Worthington, 2010; Schultz, Tallman, & Altmaier, 2010), forensics

(e.g., Gredecki & Turner, 2009), subjective well-being (e.g., Diener, Ng, Harter, & Arora,

2010; Keyes, 2009a), and self-efficacy (Bandura, 2006, 2008; Benight & Bandura, 2004),

to name a few.

From these considerable theoretic and empirical advances, the positive psychology

practice field has been deluged by new and innovative perspectives that move many of

the research-focused principles of positive psychology toward a clinical framework (e.g.,

Burns, 2010; Joseph & Linley, 2006, 2008; Linley & Joseph, 2004; Magyar-Moe, 2009;

Seligman & Fowler, 2011). For their part, Wood and Tarrier (2010) made a strong argument

that development of positive clinical psychology will advance the clinical field by

balancing the positive and negative in the clinical environment. Such advances have the

potential to rapidly expand the scientific knowledge base of the profession and can be used

to improve people’s lives (Wood & Tarrier, 2010).

ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS

Although an interest in human strengths is evidenced throughout the origin of modern

psychology, historically, the helping professions have placed their primary emphasis on

illnesses, problems, and those things that go wrong with the human condition. Moving


6 Tools for Strengths-Based Assessment and Evaluation

beyond a unitary view that mental health is illness based, to a more inclusive view that

includes strengths, requires us to place it within a historical context. In detailing the transition,

Strümpfer (2005) highlighted the fact that, while focusing on a person’s strengths

may seem like a new paradigm, it is, instead, a rather old idea that is only recently becoming

evident in Western psychology and other professions. Strümpfer (2005) quite elegantly

stated that “some of the predecessors were perhaps just courageous foot soldiers, but some

were indeed giants—and today we can stand on the shoulders of all of them” (p. 22). From

the shoulders of giants, the current state of psychotherapy is shifting away from a medical

model with an illness analogy to one that recognizes, measures, emphasizes, and utilizes a

person’s strengths.

THE STATE OF PSYCHOTHERAPY

In their chapter about the importance of “strengthspotting” (i.e., recognizing strengths in

yourself and others), Linley and Burns (2010) asked two captivating questions about the

current state of psychotherapy:

1. “Is psychotherapy a place where clients would consider going to talk about their

strengths?” (p. 4)

2. “Is psychotherapy a place where therapists would routinely inquire about a client’s

strengths?” (p. 4)

At present, most professionals who have contact with client populations are likely to

offer a resounding yes to both questions. Apparent throughout the helping professions is

recognition that it is important to measure and capitalize on resources, health, and those

things that are going right, not simply focus on deficits, problems, and those things that

are going wrong. However, this has not always been the case. Indeed, if we were to ask

the same question as short as a decade ago, the response might have been maybe or, for

some, even no. Such cautious responses could have been a function of a field mired in

the dominant illness language of the times (i.e., medical diagnoses, biological disorders,

and prescriptive clinical treatments). In some ways, these responses represent the last

50 years of the history of psychotherapy research, ruled by what Orlinsky (2006) described

as a widely accepted and largely unquestioned “normal science” (Kuhn, 1970). In this,

the “standard model involves the study of (a) manualized therapeutic procedures (b) for

specific types of disorders (c) in particular treatment settings and conditions” (Orlinsky,

2006, p. 2).

An Illness Analogy

The summary of Orlinsky (2006) echoes the compelling position that psychotherapy, for

the most part, has existed in a vacuum where the “illness conception” or “illness analogy”

(Maddux, 2008, p. 56) exists. Also referred to as the “medical model” and “medical analogy”

(Maddux, 2008, p. 56), most psychotherapy replicates the language of medical science

(e.g., pathology, illness, disease, disorder, symptom, comorbidity, etc.), leading to a focus

on what and where we should be looking based on an “illness ideology” (Maddux, 2008,

p. 56). Essentially, the illness ideology is a narrowed focus where pathology is a function of

biology and intrapsychic forces, mostly beyond one’s control, and the human condition is

divided into categories such as normal/abnormal and clinical/nonclinical. Maddux’s view

represents a social constructionist view of mental illness, one of assumptions and values that

were typically cocreated by those who have the power and privilege to promote a particular

view. Maddux suggests that there is no stronger socially constructed view than that of the

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and International Classification


1 Strengths and Psychotherapy 7

of Diseases (ICD). In this case, they represent the “heuristic social artifacts” (Maddux, 2008,

p. 63) serving the social order and echoing the social value judgments of our culture.

McLaren (2010b) furthers these views with the argument that psychiatry has never been

able to articulate “a model of mental disorder that, ab initio [from the beginning], dictated

the borders and contents of mental disorder” (p. 193). Instead, psychiatry has relied on a

reductionist stance that views disorders as a disease of the brain (e.g., Bennett & Hacker,

2003; Guze, 1989; McLaren, 2010a,b), emphasizing poor adjustment over healthy adjustment,

abnormality over normality, and sickness over health (e.g., Maddux, 2008; McLaren,

2010b). These views are seen in the ominous writings of many who agree that the current

process is unlikely to change with the advent of the fifth edition of the DSM in 2013 and

the 11th edition of the WHO’s ICD in 2014 (e.g., First & Wakefield, 2010; Frances,

2009a, 2009b; McLaren, 2010a,b; Wakefield, 2010). As McLaren (2010b) notes “trying

to derive a classification of mental disorder when we do not even have a model of how it

arises is totally back to front” (p. 193). From an illness ideology, mental disorder must be

categorically distributed. However, most in the field recognize both mental disorder and

mental health as multidimensional, existing on a continuum, and dependant on individual,

culture, and context.

Times They Are a Changing

Let’s return to the question, what is the current state of psychotherapy? In the simplest terms,

Hubble, Duncan, Miller, and Wampold (2010) report that “the field is maturing” (p. 24).

Throughout the helping professions “the times, they are a changing” (Strümpfer, 2005,

p. 22). The field has begun to reinvent itself against the past 50 years of illness ideology, allegiance

with managed care, and medicalization of mental health (Becker & Marecek, 2008).

This reinvention seems to be away from a deficits paradigm of client dysfunction/frailty to

one where client strengths, resources, and competencies are part of the focus for change.

Indeed, exploring the strengths of individuals is hardly new and we believe the field is headed

over and beyond the popular cultural zeitgeist as it has been characterized (e.g., Held, 2002;

Strümpfer, 2005). To paraphrase Maddux (2008) once again, an important strengths ideology

has emerged, which is not focused on a categorical framework (you either have strengths or

you do not), but instead takes a multidimensional view of mental health (i.e., there are all

shapes and sizes of one’s strengths, some big, some small, all worthwhile).

A MULTIDIMENSIONAL VIEW OF WELLNESS

Following the definition and history of strengths, we next move toward an expansive view

of mental health that can be translated into clinical practice. Of importance is the need to

move away from an illness and deficit point of view with which much of the helping professions

have traditionally been conceived. As stated previously, the history of debate about the

categorical distribution of mental health is long and not likely to be resolved with the forthcoming

application of the DSM-5 (e.g., First & Wakefield, 2010; Frances, 2009a, 2009b;

McLaren, 2010b; Wakefield, 2010). However, as Mechanic (1999) aptly stated, “although

the concept of positive mental health is one worth keeping in mind, it is not very helpful in

classifying different persons, groups, or populations” (p. 2). Within this context, a number

of authors have put forth ideas that an inclusive, multidimensional view seems warranted;

one that is inclusive of both strengths and illnesses (e.g., Antonovsky, 1979, 1987; Keyes,

2007, 2009b; Keyes & Magyar-Moe, 2003; Ryff, 1989; Ryff & Keyes, 1995).

More Than the Absence of Illness

Conceptualizing mental health has generally focused on the pathogenic model that views

health (or complete health) as the absence of disease, a term that is consistent with the


8 Tools for Strengths-Based Assessment and Evaluation

illness ideology stated previously (e.g., Keyes, 2007, 2009b; Maddux, 2008; McLaren,

2010a, 2010b; Orlinsky, 2006). Mental health treatment, therefore, usually consists of

attempts to reduce symptoms, prevent relapse, and provide treatment after the problem

has occurred. Building on the theoretical pathogenic approach, Keyes (2002, 2003, 2005,

2007, 2009a, 2009b, 2010) argued the de facto perspective of mental health is that a person

is either ill (i.e., mentally ill) or well (i.e., not mentally ill), thus supporting a fixed assumption

of either/or. On the other hand, a compelling body of work articulates the idea that

health is not merely the absence of illness or something negative, but instead is the presence

of something positive. This perspective is illustrated in the World Health Organization

(2005) definition of mental health as “a state of well being in which the individual realizes

his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and

fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” (p. 18).

A Two-Continua Model

A growing body of evidence demonstrates that the absence of mental illness does not imply

the presence of mental health, and inversely, the absence of mental health does not imply

the presence of mental illness. Consistent findings with adults (Keyes, Shmotkin, & Ryff,

2002; Keyes et al., 2008; Westerhof & Keyes, 2010), adolescents (Keyes, 2005), and college

samples (Robitschek & Keyes, 2009) show mental health and mental illness are oftentimes

present along different continua with the exceptions residing at the extreme of either

range. Thus, categorical descriptions do not represent the normal state but are instead the

extreme cases.

In contrast to this either/or view, Keyes (2002, 2005) and others (Headey, Kelley, &

Wearing, 1993; Keyes & Ryff, 1999; Westerhof & Keyes, 2010) have taken the position

that mental health and mental illness are related, but represent distinct dimensions

(Keyes, 2002, 2005) existing along two different continua. Illustrated in Figure 1.1, one

continuum represents mental health (including emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing

discussed below), while the other represents mental illness (under which one can

include symptoms, pathology, and illness). Anchoring both continua are the functional

components flourishing (defined as the highest levels of positive emotions) and languishing

(defined as emptiness, despair, and stagnation) (e.g., Keyes, 2002, 2005; Westerhof & Keyes,

2010). The extremes of each range represent (a) the presence of mental health and the complete

absence of mental illness (i.e., complete flourishing) and (b) the presence of mental

illness and the complete absence of mental health (complete languishing). Within this

model, it is entirely possible for mental health and mental illness to exist simultaneously.

Similarly, one can be mentally healthy, yet languishing; or mentally ill, yet flourishing.

FLOURISHING

Complete

Mental

Health

Absence

of Mental

Illness

Completely

Mentally

Healthy and

Flourishing


A person can be mentally healthy yet also be languishing

Moderately

Mentally

Healthy


Pure

Languishing

(no mental

illness)


Mental

Illness and

Flourishing


Moderate

Mental

Illness


Mental

Illness and

Languishing

Absence

of

Mental

Health

Complete

Mental

Illness

LANGUISHING

A person can have a mental illness yet also be flourishing

Adapted from Keyes 2002, 2005; Westerhof & Keyes, 2010.

Figure 1.1 ■ The two-continua model takes the position that mental health and mental illness

are related, but distinct dimensions existing along two continua.


1 Strengths and Psychotherapy 9

Health and illness are not either/or propositions, but instead are variations that can exist

concurrently along the two separate continua.

The work of Keyes et al. (2008) and Westerhof and Keyes (2010) found that the largest

proportion of the population exhibit degrees of mental health, while also experiencing

a range of problems. It is only at the polar ends that one finds opposite extremes of complete

mental illness (i.e., complete languishing) and complete mental health (i.e., complete

flourishing). These findings indicate mental health is more normally distributed across the

continuum than existing in an either/or state. One way to illustrate these differences is by

considering the distribution of responses military members have when faced with combat

(Seligman & Fowler, 2011). In the face of life-threatening adversity only a very small

minority collapse (languish), while most combatants (i.e., the majority) are in the middle

(resilient, returning to normal levels of coping despite the disruption) or grow after adversity;

in other words, they flourish (Seligman & Fowler, 2011). As mental health professionals,

the goal then is to move people along the continuum by focusing on their positive

attributes and strengths in a way that will “build more positive emotion, engagement, and

meaning, and better relationships among all people” (Seligman & Fowler, 2011, p. 86).

The two-continua model has a wide range of possible applications within the field of

psychotherapy. Prevention of mental illness can be supplemented with promoting well-being

through the development of individual strengths. It can be argued that the concept of

promotion (i.e., moving toward mental health) increases the possibility that an individual

will engage in behaviors that further mental health and subjective well-being. To promote

mental health through an examination of strengths assumes that one identifies the capabilities,

characteristics, and/or traits of the individual, as opposed to a more narrow or

constricted view. Consequently, there is room to focus on internal and external resources

that can lead to an increase in desired outcomes and a more hopeful future for clients. To

better understand the various components of psychological health, it is helpful to consider

some of the literature providing a framework for physical, mental, and social well-being.

Physical, Mental, and Social Well-Being

In an attempt to develop holistic models to explain the underlying dynamics of psychological

health and well-being, a number of authors (e.g., Christopher & Campbell, 2008;

Joseph & Linley, 2006; Keyes, 2006; Richardson, 2002; Strümpfer, 2005) have made efforts

to find common ground among the large number of strengths-based and strengths-inclusive

models. Yet, to date, no general agreement exists that provides a coherent theoretical framework

for explanation and/or prediction (Wissing & Temane, 2008). Despite the absence of

consensus within the field, a number of theoretical approaches can be combined to provide

a conceptual framework that incorporates physical, mental, and social well-being.

Conceptual Framework

The framework used to guide development of the current text was created by integrating

the work of a few key theorists (Diener, 2008; Keyes, 1998; Keyes & Magyar-Moe, 2003;

Ryff, 1989) into the World Health Organization (1946) definition that health is “a state

of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease

or infirmity.” Illustrated in Table 1.1, the resulting multidimensional framework integrates

components of the health triangle (i.e., physical, mental, and social well-being) into definitional

knowledge related to subjective well-being. From this, mental well-being is further

apportioned into the lower-order components of emotional well-being and psychological

well-being. Together with the physical and social well-being components, each includes

multidimensional constructs that are important to the overarching idea of subjective wellbeing.

When reviewing this framework, it is important to note that it is not intended to be

explanatory or all encompassing. Instead, it is presented as one possible way to conceptualize

the multiple areas that can be considered when incorporating strengths into clinical

practice.


Table 1.1 ■ A Conceptual Framework That Provides a Multidimensional View of Mental Health Using the Construct Subjective Well-Being to Link All of the Parts

Subjective Well-Being

Mental Well-Being

Physical Well-Being 1 Social Well-Being 4

Emotional Well-Being 2 Psychological Well-Being 3

Health: The level of functional and Life satisfaction: A global Self-acceptance: Acknowledgement, Social integration: The evaluation of the quality of

metabolic effi ciency of a living being. judgment that people make when acceptance, and a positive attitude about a person’s relationship with society, including the

they consider their life as a whole. multiple aspects of the self, including past life extent to which a person feels they have something in

and unpleasant personal aspects.

common with other people and that they belong to a

community and society

Wellness: A way of life that equips Positive feelings (affect): Positive relations with others: The ability to Social contribution: Evaluation of one’s social value,

the individual to realize the full Spontaneous and subjective empathize, cooperate, compromise, and be including a belief they have something to contribute

potential of their capabilities; a lifestyle refl ections of pleasant emotions concerned about the welfare of others and to and that the community and society in which they live

that recognizes the importance of in the individual’s immediate cultivate meaningful relationships value this contribution

nutrition, fi tness, stress reduction, and experience—their avowed

responsibility (self and civic)

happiness right now

Health-related quality of life (HRQoL): Balance of positive-to-negative Environmental mastery: The ability to manage Social coherence: Appraisals that society is discernable,

A subjective assessment about the affect: Generally reported positive everyday affairs, control a complex array sensible, and predictable. The person not only cares

impact that health and health care affect (i.e., being cheerful, in good of external activities, make effective use about their world but feels they can understand what

has on an individual’s quality-of–life, spirits, calm/peaceful, satisfied) of surrounding opportunities, and take an is happening around them

including the ability to care for oneself, minus negative affect (i.e., being active role in getting what is needed from the

perform daily tasks of living, freedom sad, restless, fidgety, hopeless, environment

from pain, and ability to see, hear, nervous, worthless)

Autonomy: Individual seeking of self-

Social acceptance: A trust of others, favorable view of

and think normally: An individual’s

determination, including the ability to resist human nature, and feeling comfortable with other

perception of illness and wellness.

social pressure in and make personal behavior people

choices based on internalized standards and

values

Purpose in life: The presence of life goals, Social actualization: The belief that society has the

sense of directedness, and seeing daily life as potential to evolve and realized through its citizens

fulfi lling a direction and purpose

and institutions

Personal growth: The capacity to remain

open to new experiences, an ability to accept

challenges in diverse circumstances, the

pursuit of personal development to realize

individual potential

10 Tools for Strengths-Based Assessment and Evaluation

The framework is an adaptation of Keyes and Magyar-Moe (2003) that integrates the World Health Organization defi nition of health (WHO, 1946) 1 and the theories of Diener (2008), 2 Ryff (1989), 3

and Keyes (1998). 4


1 Strengths and Psychotherapy 11

Subjective Well-Being

Subjective well-being is a broad concept that is often used to describe a combination of

cognitive judgments about the quality of and satisfaction with one’s life. Although a broad

range of definitions have been presented in the literature, most professionals and laypersons

conceptualize subjective well-being as multifaceted in nature with affective, cognitive, and

social components (e.g., Diener, Suh, Lucas, & Smith, 1999; Keyes & Magyar-Moe, 2003;

Ryff, 1989). Because well-being is inherently subjective, measurement should always allow

the client to determine his or her own criteria for inclusion and to weigh these criteria in a

manner he or she chooses (Pavot & Diener, 2008). The resulting understanding can help

gauge the quality of an individual’s life, regardless of the circumstances in which he or she

presents to intervention. Therapeutically, the importance of this understanding is supported

by a large body of research demonstrating that an individual’s reported well-being

is directly and indirectly related to resilience, self-efficacy, self-esteem, adaptation, physical

health, mental health, workplace success, social skills, energy, values, positive mood states,

low anxiety, low depression, and reduced suicide ideation/attempts (for reviews please see

Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005; Pressman & Cohen, 2005). Subjective well-being

was selected as the overarching construct linking all the parts of the presented framework

because it encompasses all aspects of physical, mental, and social well-being.

Physical Well-Being

Physical well-being is a person’s subjective report that he or she feels healthy, energetic, and

physically robust, and does not feel lethargy, weakness, or in ill health. Distinctly different

from mind, spirit, and social aspects of a person’s life, physical well-being is related to perceptions

about the biological functioning of the human body and includes health, wellness,

and health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Leddy (1996) defined health as “a dynamic

process that manifests the pattern of the unitary human being” (p. 25). Health includes

the level of functional and metabolic efficiency of a living being. Wellness is a dynamic state

of well-being that includes a lifestyle that recognizes the importance of nutrition, fitness,

stress reduction, and self-responsibility. Wellness equips the individual to realize the full

potential of his or her capabilities. HRQoL is a subjective assessment about the impact that

health and health care has on an individual’s quality of life, including the ability to care for

oneself, perform daily tasks of living, live free from pain, and have the ability to see, hear,

and think normally. Inherently subjective, HRQoL is an individual’s perception about

how his or her personal state of wellness and illness affects day-to-day living.

Emotional Well-Being

Emotional well-being is a dimension of mental well-being that includes individual life satisfaction,

positive feelings, and the balance of positive-to-negative affect (e.g., Bradburn,

1969; Diener, 2009; Diener et al., 1999; Gurin, Veroff, & Feld, 1960). Life satisfaction is a

global judgment about one’s own life, including whether the person is content with his or

her life overall and how satisfied he or she is. Measured using a number of different methods,

instruments designed to assess life satisfaction generally assess a respondent’s personal

judgments (i.e., appraisal) about life events, circumstances, and themselves. Positive feelings,

conversely, are based on spontaneous and subjective reflections of pleasant emotions in the

individual’s immediate experience, his or her avowed happiness and/or joy. Also referred to

as positive affect, measuring these positive feelings generally includes the frequency and/

or degree of emotional reactions which the person considers pleasant and pleasurable. The

specific focus of positive feelings (i.e., positive affect) is on the up side of the emotion scale.

Moving affective measurement beyond pleasant feelings alone, the balance of positiveto-negative

affect taps into the frequency that a person reports both positive affect (i.e.,

being cheerful, in good spirits, calm/peaceful, satisfied, etc.) and negative affect (i.e., being

sad, restless/fidgety, hopeless, nervous, worthless, etc.) (e.g., Bradburn, 1969; Diener, 2009;

Diener & Emmons, 1985). The balance is usually reported as a formula (or the results of a

formula), whereby the unpleasantness (negative affect) is subtracted from the pleasantness


12 Tools for Strengths-Based Assessment and Evaluation

(positive affect). Unfortunately, the nature of this balance is not well understood with some

researchers concluding that the two are different ends of the same continuum (e.g., Feldman-

Barrett & Russell, 1998; Russell & Carroll, 1999) and others proposing that, although they

are moderately related, positive and negative affect represent two distinct dimensions (e.g.,

Bradburn, 1969; Diener, 2009; Diener & Emmons, 1985). Despite this current state of

disagreement, inclusion of an individual’s balance of positive-to-negative affect in explanations

of emotional well-being is certainly warranted. Taken with life satisfaction and avowed

happiness, these three constructs serve to explain emotional well-being.

Psychological Well-Being

Psychological well-being is a dimension of mental well-being that focuses on the individual

and has historically included personality, successful resolution of developmental

milestones (Erickson, 1959; Neugarten, 1973), being mentally healthy (Jahoda, 1958),

self-actualization (Maslow, 1943, 1968), and becoming a fully functioning person (Rogers,

1961). To expand theoretical understanding about psychological well-being, Ryff (1989)

proposed a six-part model that encompasses self-acceptance, positive relations with others,

autonomy, environmental mastery, purpose in life, and personal growth. Illustrated in the

third column of Table 1.1, this model encompasses the areas of psychological well-being

that include (a) a positive self-evaluation, both now and in the past, (b) a sense of personal

growth and development, (c) a belief that one’s life has purpose and meaning, (d) the ability

to have quality relationships with other people, (e) the capacity to effectively manage

one’s life within the context of the surrounding world, and (f) a sense of determination and

authority (Ryff, 1989; Ryff & Keyes, 1995).

Social Well-Being

The subdimension social well-being focuses on the relations the individual has with others

and originates from the classical themes of alienation and anomie (e.g., Mirowsky

& Ross, 1989; Seeman, 1959), social psychology (Keyes, 1998), and social work.

Describing the components of social well-being, Keyes (1998) proposed a five-part

model that encompasses social integration, social contribution, social coherence, social

acceptance, and social actualization. Further defined in the fourth column of Table 1.1,

these five components focus on social tasks encountered by all people. Measurement of

these components provides information about the degree to which a person is functioning

in his or her social world (i.e., as family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and

citizens) (Keyes, 1998).

A Sum of Its Parts

Subjective well-being, then, is a sum of its parts. These parts represent a diverse range of

factors that, when taken together, converge to create a comprehensive understanding about

what positive attributes are and, conversely, what they are not. Underlying the conceptual

model used to develop this text is the implicit theory that subjective well-being includes

elements of physical well-being, social well-being and the psychological and social components

of emotional well-being. The constructs measured by this book’s instruments

are essential to this model and include happiness, subjective well-being, health, wellness,

HRQoL, mindfulness, acceptance, situational effect, hope, optimism, humor, resilience,

coping, aspirations, goals, values, self-efficacy, empowerment, emotional intelligence,

social support, social relationships, intimate relationships, and family relationships. The

utility of measuring these constructs in clinical practice lies in a better understanding of

the strengths and resources that can help the client achieve his or her therapeutic and personal

goals. To this end, the instruments included in Chapters 4 though 15 of this book

encompass these strengths-based constructs. Taken together, these constructs link to the

elements of the above-described conceptual framework and represent strengths that can

be incorporated into strengths-based research and clinical practice.


1 Strengths and Psychotherapy 13

IN TRANSITION

A shift is occurring throughout the helping professions, which we believe is moving psychotherapy

away from a deficit or illness model to one that focuses on strengths, resources,

competencies, and the positive. These changes represent an evolution within the professional

field that encompasses historical and current theoretically driven strengths-based

and strengths-inclusive models, and a long-standing dissatisfaction with a problem-focused

approach to understanding the human condition. What has emerged is a resounding

swing in the landscape of psychotherapy, particularly with the emergence of positive

psychology and the strengths perspective in social work. While fresh and inventive in

design, these changes are grounded in historic ideas spanning from ancient philosophy to

the origins of modern psychology.

From this historical discussion, practical questions arise about how to incorporate

strengths into the assessment and evaluation processes. In closing this chapter about incorporating

strengths into psychotherapy, it is important to acknowledge that there is a very

real need to strike a balance between what is right with what is wrong in the assessment and

evaluation process. Research documenting client factors and how clients change highlights

the importance of enhancing collaboration, alliance building, and selecting appropriate

targets for change. To this end, the next chapter of this text discusses the need to strike a

balance between problems and strengths in the assessment and evaluation process.

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