FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH
Identifying key character strengths can work wonders in recovery , says Lisa Ogilvie
The Values in Action ( VIA ) character strengths model lists 24 strengths that humans can possess . The model was created following an extensive study of the world ’ s major belief systems and philosophies , from which 24 character strengths were identified . This created a common language to define what ’ s best about people and show that character strengths can apply to any population . This makes them a flexible resource that can be used in a multitude of psychological interventions , from wellbeing advocacy to those that can counteract the symptomology of mental illness .
The strengths are versatile when looking at the wellbeing of groups with a demographically diverse intake such as people in addiction recovery – the membership base for which can be as varied as the contributing factors to addiction itself . Furthermore , in support of ongoing and successful recovery , research has shown that character strengths can help an individual build on what works well and reframe what does not from a positive perspective .
STRENGTH IN RECOVERY The link between strength of character and addiction may not seem an obvious one . However , it offers the opportunity for people in recovery to maximise their own strengths to help build a happy and engaging way of life . The idea of taking positive aspects of self and developing them to support recovery is not new – the concept of recovery capital sees an individual accrue valuable internal and external assets that help them strengthen their recovery .
These assets include supportive friendships , improved interpersonal skills and the implementation of healthy coping strategies . Recovery capital has proved to be an effective way for people in recovery to conceptualise the internal and external resources that help them to sustain their recovery . Character strengths can be considered a type of recovery capital – one where an individual leverages their own positive qualities to uphold and improve their recovery .
Character strengths can help protect and enrich recovery in many ways . For example , having gratitude for no longer being trapped in the cycle of addiction is often reported by people in early recovery , and appreciating this can provide motivation for maintaining abstinence . In later recovery , this strength becomes more sophisticated , growing from the gratitude of leaving something behind towards the appreciation of what is yet to come . Similarly , honesty can be an important part of having the courage to accept oneself as the protagonist in the sometimes shameful consequences of addiction . In later recovery , it can evolve to a protective strength , supporting healthy self-analysis that can protect against a return to potentially damaging ways that risk relapse . All 24 of the strengths can be evaluated in a similar manner to the advantage of addiction recovery .
DEVELOPING STRATEGIES The VIA character strength survey is freely available on the VIA website at www . viacharacter . org . Practitioners can request their clients complete this survey to find out what their signature
The idea of taking positive aspects of self and developing them to support recovery is not new – the concept of recovery capital sees an individual accrue valuable internal and external assets that help them strengthen their recovery .
strengths are , and encourage them to use them by developing strategies and interventions that promote positive addiction recovery . Encouraging clients to practise using their signature strengths is an exercise in building on what is known to work well for them and affirm their individual capability . If a client has gratitude as a strength for example , suggest they actively use it as part of a regular routine using mini interventions such as advocating that each evening the
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