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Family Strength Assessment

Purpose: To learn the good news about families; to get a truly balanced picture of people; to begin the joining process; to discover what might appeal to family members in a motivational senses.

Rationale: It is people's strengths that pull them through life's crisis moments, not their pathology or diagnosis. The strengths of the family are the most useful elements for the construction of a viable plan.

Process: This should look more like chat than a formal assessment. It can occur over several meetings, in a variety of locations (coffee shops, homes, public meeting places like libraries or schools, Esc). The task is to get to know the family, not to attribute etiology or get a placement history. If that type of information is needed, it can be gathered at another time. Typically, when families are referred into this process, lots of information is already available and documented, although there is usually not much about strengths.

Method: Imagine that you are at a cocktail party, church social, luncheon or similar affair with people you don't know. Begin a dialogue with them, sharing common sorts of information back and forth. Feel free to model information sharing by telling them about some of your own traits, preferences or hobbies. If the family has been inadvertently "trained" to respond to members of the professional community with a social history, bring the conversation back to strengths by asking questions.

Documentation: The best method is to remember what is said and outline the strengths later. If your memory is not up to this, ask for permission to jot down a few notes. Keep your notes accessible to family members so they can see what you're writing down. Ask someone in the family to look over your notes and check to make sure you got it right before you leave, or carry carbon paper with you and offer them a copy.


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