Positive Counseling Strategies

Positive Counseling Strategies

Interviewing for Strengths

Interviewing for client strengths used in conjunction with solution-focused interviewing techniques can help a client draw on their natural strengths in order to bring about positive change in their lives. This method involves helping the client define well-formed goals in their own context and exploring situations, called exceptions, in which the problem the client is facing had subsided for a brief time. Developing well-form goals can help a client have a concrete measurement of progress that has been made; exploring exceptions can help a client uncover successful techniques they have used in facing their problems.

Interviewing for well-formed goals involves a solutions-focused approach. Techniques such as the “miracle question” and scaling are used to help the client solidify the perceptible attributes of their goals. Once the client has developed personal goals and identified exceptions, strengths-based questioning such as coping and “what’s better” questions can help the client identify internal strengths that can keep them on track of achieving their goals and increasing exception moments in their lives. Both of these techniques involve a synergic relationship between therapist and client that encourages empowering the client to create their own context, to establish or renew bonds between the client and others, and to allow the client to understand that they have within themselves the power for healing (DeJong & Miller, 1995). By assuming this strengths perspective, clients can become more engaged in the therapeutic process allowing them to discover innate abilities to promote healing.

De Jong, P., & Miller, S.D. (1995). How to Interview for Client Strengths. Social Work, 40(6).

Hope Therapy

Built on two decades of hope theory refinement and research and based on belief that all people have the capacity for hopeful thinking, hope therapy is a set of intervention designed to enhance hope via brief therapy. The goals of hope therapy are to help a client conceptualize clearer goals, produce numerous pathways to attain these goals, summon the mental energy to maintain goal pursuit, and reframe insurmountable obstacles as challenges to overcome (Lopez, Floyd, Ulven, & Snyder, 2000). The process to attain these goals consist of two different stages: instilling hope through techniques such as hope finding and hope bonding and increasing hope through hope enhancing and hope reminding.

Hope finding involves narrative storytelling to give the client a new perspective of the hope themes that are weaved throughout their life story. By uncovering times in their lives when they have fulfilled their goals, met and overcame challenges, and experienced personal success clients are able to then draw on these examples to find new ways of enhancing hope for their future. Hope finding also can involve using a formal assessment tool to gauge the clients current level of hope that can then be analyzed by the client and therapist to understand how this level relates to where the client is now and how increasing hope levels can relate to future goals. In hope bonding, the therapist provides the client with a role model of hope behaviors and thinking along with a positive therapeutic environment. Once the client has developed an understanding of hope and the power it can have in their life, cognitive skills to increase their level of hope can be gained by using hope enhancing techniques. Along with hope enhancing, hope reminding can be used as a way of increasing hope in a client. Hope reminding enhances the ability of the client to recognize barriers and obstacles in their thinking, which will then activate cognitive processes and interventions based in hope.

Hope therapy provides therapists and their clients with the tools to bring about an increase in positive thinking while engaging the client’s strengths and past successes with hope.

Lopez, S.J., Floyd, K.R., Ulven, J.C., & Snyder C.R. (2000). Hope Therapy: Helping Clients Build a House of Hope. Handbook of Hope. 123 – 150.

Well-Being Therapy

Well-being therapy (Fava, 1999) is a short-term, well-being-enhancing strategy based on Ryff’s (1989) multidimensional model of psychological well-being, encompassing environmental mastery, personal growth, purpose in life, autonomy, self-acceptance and positive relations with others. This cognitive-behavioral approach can be used as a relapse preventive strategy in the residual phase of affective disorders, or as an alternative treatment approach for clients with affective disorders who did not benefit from standard treatments. Specific treatment of residual depressive symptoms may improve long-term outcome, by addressing symptoms that progress towards relapse.

Strategies include self-observation of moments of well-being in the client’s daily life. The client keeps a diary that will allow him or her to record these moments and recognize positive and negative thought patterns. The next step is for the client to recognize automatic thoughts and beliefs that tend to disrupt these moments of well-being. Once these disruptive thoughts have been identified, the therapist can encourage the client to challenge the patterns of negative self-talk that are disrupting their moments of well-being. The final step, once moments of well-being and disruptive self-talk have been identified, is to apply cognitive restructuring based on Ryff’s conceptual framework. By having the client complete the 84-item Psychological Well-Being Inventory, specific issues associated with the six areas of Ryff’s model of psychological well-being can be addressed.

According to Fava and Mangelli (2001), the route to recovery lies not exclusively in alleviating the negative, but in engendering the positive. Well-being therapy can provide a valuable tool to enhance well-being in a client’s life aiding in relapse prevention or offering an alternative approach to traditional treatments.

Fava, G. A. (1999). Well-being therapy: Conceptual and technical issues. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 68, 171-179.

Fava, G.A., Mangelli, L. (2001). Assessment of subclinical symptoms and psychological well-being in depression. European Archives Psychiatry Clinical Neuroscience, 251 (2), 11/47-11/52.

Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 1069-1081.