The strengths approach, like any approach, relies on people taking responsibility.
Imagine you are facilitating a strengths coaching session. You will aim to provide an encouraging environment, but the coachee must also be willing to shape their future.
The Responsibility Model in Development
There was a time when the coach or therapist was supposed to ‘do something’ to a person to motivate them and ensure they took responsibility. Several things have taken place to ‘equalise’ the responsibilities. Here are some of them.
* The Self Help Movement.
The self help movement is expressed in many forms. It can include, for example, recovering alcoholics, former drug addicts, victims of abuse, returning war veterans and people suffering from illnesses.
Some of the early self help groups focused on helping individuals to overcome alcoholism or others addictions. Whilst providing a support network, they emphasised the individual’s role in taking responsibility for shaping their future. This was a feature of all successful recovery programmes.
There are now groups for people who have experienced many different kinds of setbacks. Often run by people who have shared similar experiences, these provide ongoing support. They also encourage people to play an active part in shaping the quality of their future lives.
* Existential Psychology.
This stemmed from people such as Viktor Frankl, Rollo May and William Glasser. The Existential approach is summed up by Viktor Frankl’s famous quotes regarding people choosing their attitude in any given situation.
“Man is not free from his conditions; but he is free to take a stand towards his conditions … Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”
William Glasser’s work on Reality Therapy also emphasised the individual’s responsibility to fulfil their needs in a healthy way.
People make choices every moment. They can choose to be positive or negative, take responsibility or avoid responsibility. Each choice has consequences, of course, with both plus and minuses.
The existential approach encourages people to make choices that help both themselves and other people.
* Survivor Psychology.
Al Siebert, Paul Stoltz and Erik Weihenmayer wrote extensively about people who demonstrated resilience and overcame setbacks. Writing in The Survivor Personality, Al described the psychology that such people adopted when faced by adversity. He explained that:
“The survivor way of orientating to a crisis is to feel fully and totally responsible for making things work out well.”
Such people often go through the following steps to overcome the challenge.
* They quickly read the new reality.
* They stay calm.
* They maintain a sense of perspective.
* They are open to doing anything.
* They have life-competencies that help them in emergencies.
* They totally commit to doing their best.
* Sports Psychology.
Good sports psychologists also emphasised the theme of responsibility. This was embodied in the Coaching Contract.
After an initial scoping session, they would invite the athlete to complete the following framework. They would then do their best to help the athlete to achieve their picture of success.
Clarifying the extent to which
a person takes responsibility
Imagine you are facilitating a strengths coaching session.
The coach’s role is to create an encouraging environment, clarify the person’s goals and make clear working contracts. It is then to provide knowledge, models and practical tools the person can use to achieve ongoing success.
The person’s role is to take charge of shaping their future, set goals and work hard to achieve their picture of success. Try answering the following questions.
* Does the person take ownership for their attitude and actions or do they make excuses?
* When experiencing a setback, do they work hard to recover or do they play victim?
* Do they put their efforts into shaping the future? Or do they keep saying: 'The world is wrong'?
Bearing these answers in mind, rate the extent to which you believe they take responsibility. Try completing the following exercise.
The extent to which the person
takes responsibility is ____ / 10
Some coaches look for a rating of at least 8+/10. Anything less is a danger signal. You will have your own criteria.
Taking responsibility is a key competence in life. Some people seem to do it naturally; some decide to take control of their lives; some avoid it at every opportunity.
Strengths coaching works best when a person chooses to take responsibility for shaping their future.
* The Self Help Movement.
Here is some background regarding the self help movement.
* Al Siebert.
This article provides an overview of Al's work.
* Bill Beswick.
Bill is a leading sports psychologist. Here is a link to his site.