Strengths-Based Interviews

The keys to Strength-Based interviewing are clearly outlined by Saleebey. He begins by noting that every human being is equipped with strengths that can be used to improve their quality of life (Ramon et al, 2007). He continues to add that a person’s motivation to pursuing a better life is driven by their focus on their strengths. Much of these strengths can be found in the community through friends, relatives and the society at large.  These social institutions can be used by mental health service providers to develop an informal support system that supports the recovery process. It is therefore key to bring the interviewee to the societal level so that they can identify what they enjoy doing. This also calls for the input of both their families and the community. Since the strength-based approach emphasizes on a social model, it should be designed in a manner that will help the health service provider understand things that the patient perceives essential to their recovery process. This kind of approach will yield educational sessions, meetings and other interconnectional forums that are important to developing a formalized structure for mental illness recovery.

It is also key to develop a therapeutic relationship between the patient and the health practitioner. This enables the interviewer and the interviewee to converse on an equal platform. However, it is important to note that the patient being interviewed is the one possessing the strengths and the one to channel them towards their recovery. It is therefore imperative to have them take the driver’s seat. The interviewer should only facilitate professional and technical knowledge. Finally, the practitioner needs to ensure that the interview deals with the issues raised by the patient exhaustively. The interviewer may be discouraged to delve into some issues but interjections such as compliments can be used to motivate the interviewee to go ahead and feel at ease. Compliments also work to change the interviewee’s attitude from pessimistic to optimistic. In addition, compliments also help to paint the picture that the patient’s role in their own recovery is appreciated. Therefore they are likely going to be more eager to participate and provide additional information.

Differences between the Diagnostic Perspective and Strength-based perspectives

The diagnostic theory follows the framework of the “Valid Disease theory” where it is necessary to establish the underlying problem based on the history of the disorder, clinical cases and the accompanying treatment strategies. In addition, in diagnostic theory, the characterization of various types of mental illnesses is less objectified and passively encourages communication for further inquiry compared to other more representative theories. Further, diagnostic perspectives are based on past research, practices and findings than they provide insights that could be used for future reference. This is the reason why a simple error following the diagnostic perspective can be fundamentally detrimental to both the patient and society.

On the other hand, the strengths perspective provides mental health service providers with an approach that focuses on the patient’s abilities, potential and general strengths rather than pathologies, deficits and problems. One of the major differences between the diagnostic perspective and the strengths perspective that it provides people with an opportunity to recognize their own capacity and continue growing it for their own recovery. It does not mean that people’s concerns and problems are ignored completely. Rather it recognizes that the best type of intervention is where there is an appreciation of skills, uniqueness, hopes, interests and desires of the patient rather than zeroing in on a litany of inequities (Johnstone et al, 2013).


Johnstone, L., & Dallos, R. (2013). The formulation in psychology and psychotherapy: Making sense of people’s problems. Routledge.

Ramon, S., Healy, B., & Renouf, N. (2007). Recovery from mental illness as an emergent concept and practice in Australia and the UK. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 53(2), 108-122.


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