All planning begins with some sort of conversation or “assessment” of the issues that are impacting the life of the person seeking services. From a strengths-based standpoint, one of the assessment questions that the peer specialist should be very curious about is “how did you survive all of that to be here today?”
In exploring survival and coping skills, the strengths-based approach seeks to unpack and magnify these skills in ever greater detail – “And what else do you do that helps you deal with these problems?” and “What else?” This draws out the details of the person’s problem-solving strategies and other resources so that gradually the conversation between peer specialist and the client takes on the aspect of a curious worker seeking to understand how the expert client manages to deal with whatever issues they may have.
An important aspect of strengths-based recovery planning is to have future-oriented emphasis. This can involve the use of various ‘what if’ questions designed to reawaken a sense within the client of daring to dream of an attractive, inspiring future. To help this, the peer specialist can use specific questions, such as:
- ‘If all the problems that brought you here today just disappeared, what would you be doing differently?’
- ‘Where would you be?’
- ’What would you be doing?’
- ‘How will that be better?’
After guiding the client towards a vision of his or her ideal future, the next step is to help the person determine the first step they would like to take to move towards their preferred future, even in a small way.
Video: Do You Dare to Dream? (7:35 minutes)
This video provides a context for understanding the fear that is involved in making changes and moving outside of one’s “comfort zone” to the “learning zone” in order to achieve one’s personal dream of the future.