What comes to mind for you when you hear the word “strength?” Is it determination? Physical stamina? Grit? Assertiveness? Never letting other people see you cry? We receive a wide range of cultural messages about what it means to be strong. Our individual understanding of strength is impacted by our family upbringing, culture, and identity.
A strengths-based approach is an integral part of our practice as social workers and trauma-informed service professionals. But unfortunately, the traumas that youth experience are so painfully overwhelming that they overshadow youth strengths. How can we make time in our hectic schedules to identify youth strengths?
Identification of strengths is essential as we seek to counteract the hopelessness and internal chaos that youth experience as a result of trauma. Our work with youth is incomplete without exploration of the strengths that have supported them in surviving adversity. If we only focus on the trauma, we are only helping youth tell half of the story. The untold second half is the story of strength.
For every story of trauma, there are also stories of strength and resilience. But sometimes we have to dig a little to identify the strengths. And when we find them, we have to highlight them. Hold onto them. Nurture them. Integrate them into our work.
For Storiez resources and tools that focus on building youth strength, visit the links below.