DDN May 2023 DDN May_2023 | Page 7

client think of something they ’ re looking forward to about the next day ; or if they have appreciation of beauty and excellence , urge them to enhance a regular activity such as noticing something different on their walk to the shop .
IMPROVED WELLBEING The more a client exercises their strengths , the more able they are to use them with efficacy in their daily interactions , and by using certain strengths , others are naturally enhanced . Using bravery as an example , a person with this strength might stand up for what they believe is right even if it ’ s unpopular . To do this successfully there ’ s an increased chance they ’ ll draw on strengths like humility and social intelligence . Here , the applied use of complementary strengths can be beneficial , serving to build resilience and improve wellbeing by broadening the repertoire of personal resources that are available to a client .
If a character strength doesn ’ t feature as a signature strength for a client , it doesn ’ t mean they don ’ t possess it , or that they won ’ t benefit from learning ways to use it . If clients are made aware that people have character strengths in different measures and are encouraged to identify them through their own observation , they can replicate the behaviours they feel would benefit them . For example , if they observe someone demonstrating persistence , they might admire how – despite having to work hard and overcome setbacks – a goal is achieved . They could in turn decide it ’ s worth persisting at something they find challenging .
Practitioners can also match strengths to areas that a client may indicate they ’ re struggling with or want to enhance . As an example , if a client reports they often feel bored , it could be suggested they engage in an activity that will draw on the strengths of curiosity and creativity . If they feel socially awkward , they could be introduced to interventions that use the character strengths of teamwork , perseverance , and bravery to help them become more comfortable in social settings .
CONFIDENCE In recovery , encountering difficulty remains a fact of life . Awareness and regular use of character strengths not only builds resilience , but can help maintain an overall better mood and instil confidence . There are some character strengths that seem well suited to this . Forgiveness , for example , can help someone avoid developing anger towards another person when they perceive an injustice , and acting with honesty and fairness provides an effective way of maintaining a morally just stance in difficult situations . Using strengths such as these help an individual act with integrity , enabling them to take responsibility for their own actions , both good and bad .
Recent research has shown that people in addiction recovery are more likely to exhibit certain strengths than those seen in general populations . This suggests that some character strengths hold a particular significance to addiction recovery , and that they ’ re developed because of their importance to the process of change and safeguarding future recovery . These strengths are kindness , humour , honesty , fairness , and teamwork – encouraging identification with these five strengths will help people cultivate qualities that


The exact combination and extent to which an individual possesses each character strength is unique to them . Someone ’ s five predominant strengths are known as signature strengths , and by using them people can perform better , improve their wellbeing and achieve greater life satisfaction . The 24 strengths fall into six categories – wisdom , courage , humanity , justice , temperance , and transcendence . These categories are known as virtues , and the use of each strength is an expression of its virtue . So , for example , perspective and justice are an expression of wisdom , and honesty and perseverance show courage .
have been shown as inherently important to recovery .
PRACTICE AND DEVELOPMENT At Acorn Recovery Projects , clients are encouraged to recognise , practise , and develop their signature strengths . To achieve this each client completes the VIA character strength survey and based on the results a personalised profile is created for them . This individualised profile explains their signature strengths , gives reasons why they ’ re important in recovery and offers suggestions on how to practise and further develop them . This intervention is complemented with a strengths-spotting workshop which encourages clients to recognise their own strengths and those in others too .
This sets the foundation for clients to appreciate they have intrinsic positive qualities that they can feel pride in using , and gives them the reassurance that they are able to constructively support their recovery by doing so . It also allows for appreciating positive attributes in others , which helps cultivate healthy and supportive relationships that are based on mutual respect . Having completed the character strengths interventions , clients report feeling more optimistic and confident in their own abilities for their future recovery .
Lisa Ogilvie is a counsellor at Acorn Recovery Projects , and a doctoral student at the University of Bolton specialising in addiction recovery and wellbeing .