Strengths Finders

The strengths model is one that is at odds with the classic problems-and-vulnerabilities approach that perceives people as being needy. Instead, strengths-based practice reflects and builds on the assets of young people and their families. It begins by asking what people like and do best. The strengths model is not a dose of positive thinking, an effort to re-label weaknesses as strengths, or a glossing over of the fact that real problems do exist.  

Today, the strengths approach is used as a powerful tool in healing and in empowering individuals and families. It is effective because people tend to be more invested in processes that they feel they are an integral part of, or at best, know they own. It does this by:

  • fostering hope within individuals by focusing on what is or what has, in the past, proven to be successful in their lives
  • systematic processes that make inventories of positive building blocks which exist in an individual’s environment that can serve as the foundation for change or growth.

Three strengths finders – the strengths storming exercise, the strengths matrix and strengths cards – are introduced in the context of how they can be used meaningful tools in daily practice. 

Type of strengths finder

 Creating personal capacity inventories

Mapping community assets and social networks

Impacting group dynamics

1. Strengths storming


2. Strengths matrix


3. Strengths cards


The Strengths Storming Exercise

Strengths storming (sometimes known as a strengths check), is a participatory tool that can be used to affirm the strengths of a young person. It is organized by bringing together a group of people closest to him/her. The participants identified by the young person may include friends, family and significant others. The strengths storming exercise is typically organised as a circle that brainstorms on the strengths of an individual, and input from everyone in the group is necessary to make the process meaningful and engaging. The process is not a one-off exercise and requires concrete follow-up plans with the person for whom the strengths storming is done. The training slides below provide a concise guide on how a strengths storming exercise could be prepared for and facilitated.
The training film shows a real-life strengths storming exercise.

Download strengths storming guide

Strengths Storming: Showering people with their strengths
Created by Abdul Rashid, Beyond Social Services
Watch Part 1
Watch Part 2

The Strengths Matrix

The strengths matrix can be organized into four fields: personal strengths, social capital (i.e. social networks), economic capital and services to which a person has access to. It serves as a useful tool in plotting an entire range of resources a person has.  It can be effective in revealing untapped networks and resources, and potentially serves as a means of engaging and empowering families to come up with creative alternatives and solutions themselves.

Download the strengths matrix template

Strengths Cards

Whereas a strengths matrix looked at wider systems within the community, strengths cards aim to make an inventory of personal capacities. These capacities can be categorised into three distinct domains: that of the ‘heart,’ ‘hand’ and ‘mind.’ In using the cards within the context of group work, or between two people, the cards promise a powerful way of engaging, building rapport and affirming individual strengths.

Download image here