Podcast Episode 048: Team Strengths Assessment

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2We all work in teams from time-to-time but how much do we really focus on identifying and developing the individual talents of the workers, and the overall strengths of good team-working?

A team is a group of people coming together for a common purpose or goal, and often it is the challenges and difficulties that define the work of the team that will most influence its outlook in terms of development. All too often teams and services look on training and developing the areas of weakness, to the detriment of boosting and exploiting areas of success into areas of excellence.

In this episode I outline my categorisation of teams in relation to the degree in which they relate to, identify, and work with strengths, and the Team Strengths Assessment tool that I developed in the early 2000’s to support this area of practice development. Examples of three types of mental health teams are referred to as examples where these tools have been used.

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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” [Margaret Mead].


Podcast Episode 047: Anne Clilverd Interview ~ Narrative Therapy

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2This episode is the first part of an interview with Anne Clilverd, formerly Team Manager of the Kings Cross Community Mental Health Team in London. In this discussion Anne reflects on where she first became aware of Narrative Therapy, how she followed through the specific training faciltated by Michael White, and some of the challenges of embedding it into her primary work role in a community service.

The concept of the ‘outsider witness’ as a distinct function within Narrative Therapy is explored in relation to the therapeutic role offered with clients. Specific reference is made to use of the therapeutic approach in locally designed ‘Mental Health Matters’ workshops, where a client, carer and practitioner are able to work together in supporting people to tell and analyse their own story. The role of family and cultural values are able to be honoured as an element that can emerge through a workshop style of approach to embedding the ideas of Narrative Therapy.

The approach can also be shared and adapted through staff supervision with practitioners open and interested in developing the ideas into their practice, and for exploring how they are functioning in the practitioner role.

For the full content of this episode click on the links to iTunes and Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):



Podcast Episode 046: Valuing Narrative

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2The term narrative is important for many reasons; it is the means by which we recount our lives, the events, emotions and experiences that make up the patchwork of our existence. It is the core of each interpersonal relationship, and it has become a continual theme throughout my working career. The fundamental basis of mental health care is the trust and confidence built through the power of working relationships, enabling people to tell their stories.

Documenting our work also presents a conflict between the dominance of bureaucratic tick-box approaches and the need to represent someone through a narrative of their lives. Then there is narrative therapy as a psychotherapeutic approach to talking treatments. This episode concludes by outlining two of the core components of narrative therapy, before the next episode which will take the form of an interview with a friend and colleague who has trained in narrative therapy.

For the full content of this episode click on the links to iTunes and Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):



“We construct a narrative for ourselves, and that’s the thread we follow from one day to the next. People who disintegrate as personalities are the ones who lose that thread.” [Paul Benjamin].

Do what you say on your tin

Canadian Falls 3Are you taking the risk? It is something we all do, but why do we confuse and complicate it by our lackadaisical use of language? We take risks in order to gain something for ourselves, and occasionally others. We weigh up the options available to us, and make a decision based on what we compute to be the most beneficial course of action. It is called positive risk-taking not because we are trying to find a ‘positive risk’ (whatever that is), but because we are taking the risk in order to achieve a positive outcome (the gain or benefit). So, the word positive is about the outcome not about the risk! I am also not talking about ‘positive risk management’, which sounds too general and like unnecessary window-dressing of a process more often seen as negative or risk-averse. The word positive is being added to risk-taking, in my context, in order to bring some clarity and specific detail to your thinking.

We revere risk-takers in the worlds of sport, entertainment and business, tending to attribute degrees of awe to their decision-making and achievements. Do you think Ayrton Senna planned his route, speed and overtaking manoeuvres around the race-track because he thought the risk would be nice? Does Warren Buffett make his financial decisions based on a spin of his favourite coin? It is more than likely that both of these people employed complex ways of weighing up the pros and cons of choices facing them, sometimes with careful thought and consideration, and sometimes distilling a lifetime of experience into a split second. So do we, in our own personal circumstances.

Risk Decision-MakingSo, next time you are leaning on a bar deciding whether to have that extra Babycham, remember that positive risk-taking is weighing up the pros and cons of your particular set of circumstances at that time. Whereas the positive risk is simply the chance that they might taste better the more you have; and the positive risk management is the hope that those around you will help you home instead of tying you to a lamp-post at the end of the night. These concepts mean different things, so be clear when you use language, only positive risk-taking is thoughtful and considered. But… what do you think?


“Words are how people think. When you misuse words, you diminish your ability to think clearly and truthfully.” [Margaret Heffernan].

Podcast Episode 045: A Place for Carers

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2In this episode the focus is on informal unpaid carers in the health and social care system. Who carers are, and the roles they perform, are honoured as amazing strengths that can be relied upon. However, the role comes with burdens and pressures, and services have not been so quick to see carers as a priority for the vital support they need.

The focus for this episode was triggered through reading an article by Nicci Gerrard in the Observer newspaper (UK Sunday broadsheet). She was reflecting on her father’s experiences of dementia, and more specifically on the damaging effect of a hospital admission on his ability to function independently. It is not a way of blaming staff or the service, but more a reality check on how the demands of an ageing population are overloading the existing service.

John’s Campaign has been established to promote greater access for carers on to hospital wards, particularly to continue supporting their loved ones who have succumbed to dementia. The costs are very minimal and the benefits for patients, carers and staff are very significant. Good practice in this issue exists in small pockets, but the challenge of the campaign is for best practice to become standard practice everywhere.

To access the full content of this episode click on the links to iTunes and Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):



“To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors.” [Tia Walker].

“I am sickened that the government thinks my value is so low when actually carers save the government billions.” [Anonymous carer survey response].