Strengths Based Working: a challenge to Social Work? 

A little while ago my colleagues and I led a seminar for The University of Birmingham on strengths-based social work. It’s clearly a hot topic – we had to close bookings when they hit 500 people!

Social work has aspired to demonstrate a strengths-based approach in its practice since the publication in the early 1990’s of the seminal text by Dennis Saleebey at the University of Kansas. Its principles are widely accepted within the profession and reflected in contemporary social work models, good practice guidance, and recent legislation. Few can argue with the principle of looking for people’s strengths and building on them, rather than just looking for people’s problems and not seeing the person or the community. However, there are huge gaps between the rhetoric and the reality, and some fear that use of ‘strengths-based’ terminology can be used to mask cuts.

In these recordings of the seminar hosted by UoB, we talked about our understanding of strength based practice and what changes are required to make it the common experience of people who access social work and social care. We came at this from different perspectives, including Heather and Tom talking about what it is like to use social care services and what they think needs to change.

Alex Fox, OBE, shares the strengths-based principles behind Shared Lives Plus, one of the most innovative social care provider networks in the UK:

Heather Thomson and Tom Milnes in conversation with Anna McEwen about their lived experience of social work:

Alex Fox considers how the current social care system could be transformed to become strength based:

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