What is Strengths-Based Therapy?

Welcome to our “What is?” Blog series! In these posts, we are introducing some of the main therapy approaches that our therapists use. This series will help you better understand the ways C.H.E.R.I.I.S.H. Counseling can support your growth! And you can always ask more questions about these approaches during your free, no-obligation phone consultation with our therapists!

This entry, we’re focusing on Strengths-Based Therapy!

What is Strengths-Based Therapy?

Strengths-based therapy believes that challenges allow you to discover and access your inner strengths in new ways. It highlights your positive thought patterns, circumstances, and experiences and works to increase their presence in your life – rather than strictly focusing on decreasing the challenging and negative experiences.


Strengths-based therapy is about a mindset – a way to understand the challenges in your life and see yourself as the hero who can approach and overcome them!

It emphasizes the skills and assets that you bring to each challenge, and it uses these as a starting point to build successes, develop skills, and create a life you cherish.

Guiding Principles of Strengths-Based Therapy

Strengths-Based Therapy honors that you are more than a mental health diagnosis. You are an individual. And, as such, you bring your own experiences, strengths, talents, and attributes to therapy.

Strengths-Based Therapy helps you know your own strengths – as well as develop and access your strengths to create growth and change in your life! It also helps you notice and appreciate other people’s strengths, which supports healthy and positive relationships!

Strengths-Based Therapy believes that all humans have the ability to learn, grow, and thrive. You are resilient. Even when challenges seem insurmountable, you have the ability to try, learn from times you fall short, and appreciate your success.

Strengths-Based Therapy believes that problems occur because of interactions between people, organizations, and structures NOT because of shortcomings within or inherent to people, organizations, and structures.

Strengths-Based Therapy emphasizes collaboration. An effective relationship with your therapist is one where you have choice, influence, and mutual contributions. We reach your goals together!

Strengths-Based Therapy partners well with Narrative Therapy, which also emphasizes that you are an expert in your own life story and helps you access your inner resources to overcome problems in your life. (We talk more about Narrative Therapy here).

What’s so great about Strengths-Based Therapy?

Strengths-based therapy has some excellent benefits.  Identifying your strengths can help you:

  • Feel happier
  • Build healthy self-esteem
  • Move toward your goals
  • Enjoy positive relationships
  • Identify the strengths in others

Honestly, learning about client strengths (your strengths!) is one of my favorite parts of being a therapist!

In our work together, I have the unique opportunity to witness your courage, insight, and tenacity in ways that others in your life don’t. Even when challenges are overwhelming. Even when anxiety or depression are loud. Even when you feel defeated.

Often times, clients think their strengths are somewhat mundane, or that every body else is also good at those things – and it’s simply not true.

Your unique strengths are the exact things that will help you grow into the hero of your own story.

Here’s a way to try adding strengths-based practices to your life:

Pick someone in your life that you want to try this with – it could be someone you already feel close to, someone you appreciate, or someone that you want to encourage.

As you think of that person, what five strengths or skills do you notice in them? If you’re feeling stuck, take a peek at the list below for some ideas!


Now that you have a few strengths picked out, write a note for this person that highlights one of their strengths and share a specific time you witnessed this strength.

The note might say something like, “I really appreciate your playfulness. When I’m having a hard day, you always help me laugh.” or it might say something like, “Thank you for doing your chores without being asked this week. I see how responsible you are!”

Once you have this note written, it’s time to find a way to share it. You could put it in their lunch, tape it to the bathroom mirror, stick it on their pillow, set it on their desk – leave it somewhere it will surprise them!

If you’re feeling ready to level-up this activity – you could try writing a different note several times in one week!

And now…. are you ready for this?… Try the same thing for yourself!

Oof! What? I know. It’s often hard to give ourselves credit for what we’re good at. But it is a valuable practice to give ourselves some positive feedback!

If you’re feeling stuck when trying to identify your strengths, consider the following:

  • When do you feel at your best? What are you doing? Often times, we feel best when we are using our strengths or skills.
  • What traits you admire in others? How do you see those same traits in your own life?
  • What activities give you energy or help you feel most satisfied?
  • You can also ask for some feedback from people you trust.

Once you’ve identified your own strengths, write notes for yourself and schedule them as reminders in your phone. Or leave a note in your favorite coffee mug. Try propping a kind saying up next to your computer.

You spend a lot of time with yourself. The way you talk to yourself matters. What would it be like if the voice in your head was kind to you?

What strength will you thank yourself for today?


If you’d like to learn more about Strengths-Based Therapy and how you can build on your strengths to create a life you love, schedule a phone consultation with one of our therapists today!

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