Bringing Strengths to Populations With Disabilities
If there was ever a group who could benefit from a strengths-based approach to psycholgical well-being, it is people with disabilities. But, ironically, such individuals have been marginalized and stereotyped for decades. Michael Wehmeyer’s edited text, The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology and Disability, offers a welcomed shift.
In their PsycCRITIQUES review of the book, Kara Ayers and Stephanie Weber highlight the importance of bringing positive psychology approaches to both research studies and clinical practice with people with disabilities. They observe,
The contributions of positive psychology to professionals who work with individuals with disabilities are immense, as the paradigm shift from deficit-based to strengths-based models could significantly improve treatment outcomes as well as the general attitudes of society. (section Pitfalls and Limitations, para. 3)
What are the necessary ingredients for a practitioner to make this paradigm shift from a deficit-based to a strengths-based approach with individuals with disabilities? How can this be sustained? If a paradigm shift can be achieved with practitioners, could it eventually impact societal attitudes?
Is there any benefit to taking a deficit-based approach to people with disabilities? Can one still be a good clinician if one overlooks a strengths-based approach among people with disabilities?
What are the most important strengths to help people with disabilities capitalize on? Skill-based strengths, external strengths (e.g., resources), talents/abilities, character strengths…all of the above?
By Kara Ayers and Stephanie Weber
PsycCRITIQUES, 2014 Vol 59(12)