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Strengths-Based Approaches in Therapy: Constructing a Personal Model of Resilience


What is a Strengths-Based Approach? 

Most individuals see a therapist because they are experiencing a great amount of distress or conflict in their lives due to harmful behaviors, uncontrollable thoughts, tensions in their relationships or stressful events. All of the pain that accompanies these situations can decrease feelings of self-esteem, preventing people from tapping into their own strengths/coping skills. This is precisely why most therapists encourage a Strengths-Based Approach to treatment.


A Strengths-Based Approach is the act of acknowledging what you are doing right, while working towards change and healing. I.E- appreciating the tools you already have. One of the ways therapists help their patients recognize these strengths is through collaboratively constructing a Personal Model of Resilience or (PMR). 


What is A Personal Model of Resilience?

A Personal Model of Resilience (PMR) is a roadmap for figuring out how you can use your strengths to your advantage. Essentially, the act of taking the time to list qualities you love about yourself, and remember how you have solved problems in the past. 


A therapist will help you comprehend your PMR by getting to know you, by telling you what strengths they have noticed you display during sessions, and by encouraging you to apply these strengths to your current conflict. 


Naming Your Strengths 

Strengths can take many forms. When naming strengths it can be helpful to not just name things you can do but also attributes/values you have. Listed are some examples of attribute/value strengths most people possess according to research conducted by the VIA-Institute on Character:














Everyone has strengths but not everyone finds ease in naming them on their own. Building a Personal Model of Resilience with a therapist can be an empowering, insightful experience, and can lead to better self- understanding and better healing.

Siena Vaccara, LMHC Siena Vaccara received her master’s in Mental Health & Psychological Counseling from Columbia University. Siena believes in encouraging personal growth through education, cultural awareness, and building trusting relationships. She utilizes Feminist and Narrative treatment plans, as well as Cognitive Behavioral and Person-Centered techniques in session to incorporate an integrative psychotherapy approach that honors the unique needs of individuals. She understands the importance of the collaborative therapeutic space being non-judgemental, unbiased, open-minded, and strength-driven. Siena treats individuals with concerns ranging from personal transitions to family planning, identity, mood fluctuations, and stressful life events.

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