Category Archives: Person-centred working

Kindness & Empathy

I extend my thanks to the Trinidad & Tobago Healthcare UK Forum for inviting me to chair a discussion on Kindness & Empathy in commemoration of World Mental Health Day (10th October 2020).

Check out the following link to access the full discussion.

Positive Risk-Taking webinar

So you think you know what ‘Positive Risk-Taking‘ is? Well, reflect again on that statement, as I created it back in 1994, and I have come across many people who lazily misinterpret the language and get the true meaning wrong.

Are you occasionally, or often maybe, confronted with a need to make a challenging risk decision? Well, if so, read on, as I have good news for you…

Logo 2019

Click on the link below to register for instant access to my latest webinar, outlining 5 simple steps to clear and confident risk decision-making. The webinar outlines my original creation of the concept of Positive Risk-Taking, along with access to a comprehensive range of resources for implementing best practice.

Strengths Principles

A strengths approach is underpinned by 6 principles. In this video I present these as a way of helping us understand why and how we should think and act more from a strengths based perspective.


Use the following link to also access a free training webinar which introduces my simple 5-step process to risk decision-making, which also form the core modules of the Positive Risk-Taking Membership Site:

Principles of working with risk

Groucho Marx said “These are my principles, and if you don’t like them, well… I have others.” In this video I outline a number of principles of best practice when we are working with risk.


Use the following link to also access a free training webinar which introduces my simple 5-step process to risk decision-making, which also form the core modules of the Positive Risk-Taking Membership Site:

Podcast Episode 094: Making it funky

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2We spend so many hours, and restless nights, focused on work, so don’t we deserve to get enjoyment, fun and creative challenge in our work? Managerial structures, systems, procedures and processes are designed to achieve consistency and homogeneity of output. Monitoring and auditing of standards and targets keeps a watchful eye how we work. So, are we in danger of losing the pursuit of genuine creative endeavour? Where will positive risk-taking fit into this controlled picture?

In this episode I reflect on a review of a previous book I co-authored that identified our approach as ‘Funky Mental Health’. Funky ways of working are about working with and around the rules; breaking the rules in a creative rather than illegal way. It is about pushing the boundaries, but needs a few conditions to support it to happen. I outline how it needs a vision, a guide of what exceptional people do naturally, a flexible environment, and team-working. I also reference a classic example of putting all of this into practice from my Practice Based Evidence consultancy work.

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

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” [Scott Adams].

Podcast Episode 075: What is motivational interviewing?

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2We all know what motivation is… it is what gets us out of bed and out of the door. But what if you have a problem with alcohol, or with misuse of other drugs? What role does motivation play in our desire or ability to change our behaviour patterns?

In this episode I explore the strengths-based credentials of the concept of motivational interviewing. Introduced by William Miller in the early 1980’s, this has become a prominent therapeutic intervention in the field of substance misuse, but what is the concept based on, and how does it work in practice? I attempt to briefly explore some of the questions posed here, look at the strengths & motivational interviewing research, and establish a link to the cycle of change.

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

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” [Confucius].

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” [C.S. Lewis].

Podcast Episode 074: What is positive psychology?

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2Take a picture of this… it’s 1998 and Martin Seligman is just installed as president of the American Psychological Association. He challenges the massed ranks of psychology professionals to change their fundamental ethos, from a focus on pathology to a pursuit of what makes for an excellent life.

Positive Psychology is born; but does it match up to its claims to be the birth of a strengths way of thinking for developing a healthy and fulfilling life? Probably not; but what psychologists can lay a more robust claim to is applying the life scientific to a strengths approach.

In this episode I explore the underlying claims and concepts that have become known as positive psychology, and also identify how it is put into practice. I also outline the virtues and character strengths that make up the ‘manual of the sanities’.

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

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” [Elbert Hubbard].

Podcast Episode 071: Sarah’s Story

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2Person centred planning is a concept well established in learning disability services, with a clear set of principles, broad questions, tools and methods for capturing plans. But, what does it really look like in practice?

In this episode I narrate a detailed case example from a service I had been involved in developing. This case study of Sarah (not her real name) highlights not just the challenges of diagnosed multiple conditions, but also the barriers that have to be overcome in getting your close sources of support to change in order to achieve your desired wishes. Some of Sarah’s presentation is undoubtedly challenging, but this episode explains how they have been accommodated and overcome with creative thinking, as well as illustrating the process happening in practice.

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

“I was diagnosed with a severe temporal spatial deficit, a learning disability that means I have zero spatial relations skills. It was official: I was a genius trapped in an idiot’s body.” [Sloane Crosley].

Podcast Episode 070: Person Centred Planning

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2The strengths approach is all about being person-centred, but the concept of person-centred planning is much more closely associated with learning disability services. It is about ensuring the individual’s needs, wants and personal choices are paramount; and that the role of workers is to listen and learn from the individual in order to shape service responses to meet the priorities expressed.

In this episode I outline the historical development of person-centred planning, its 4 principles, 2 broad questions, 4 specific tools, the ‘circle of care’, and the outcomes represented occasionally by the ‘Personal Book’ or ‘One-Page Profile’. I also review some of the examples of how it is best implemented, and what the critics have to say about whether it really works or not.

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

“If a child is labeled as having a learning disability, it has very concrete consequences for the kinds of services and potentially accommodations that child will get.” [Robert Sternberg].

The Art of Co-ordinating Care

Person-centred (2009)
Person-centred (2009)

Care co-ordination, the role of the care co-ordinator, has become a challenging function of our care and support services, attracting more than its fair share of negative connotations. A genuine tension exists between the passion and artfulness of human relationships on the one hand, and the pursuit of a scientific basis for interventions on the other. The science of research seeks to impose a sense of reassurance by means of consistent results when defined sets of circumstances are observed or applied.

By contrast, the quality of an artful endeavour may be measured more by its emotional characteristics and the feelings it engenders in those involved or observing. In reality, the experience and practice of mental health and learning disability services is primarily a study of people’s emotional experiences, feelings and behaviour patterns. So we should be wary of any attempts to understate the elements of artfulness and passion; and we should recognise the potential impact this may have on our enjoyment of the work, as well as our motivation for doing it.

Arguably, one of the most crucial effects of the evidence-based practice focus of research is that it undermines the art of relationship-building. The pursuit of a rigorous scientific rationale places a clear priority on the cult of numbers. ‘How many?’ and ‘How frequently?’ and ‘How quickly?’ become the valued quantitative outcomes of an efficient service. But what is the cost of this, in terms of an effective, good quality experience for the individual service user within this wider research picture? Or, indeed, what is the cost of its impact on the qualitative experience of the work that, for many practitioners, is their motivation? Ideally, we need to strike a careful balance between art and science in the delivery of good quality care and support.

Check out my 2009 publication The Art of Co-ordinating Care, written with Andrew & Roberta Wetherell, for the best practice to achieve person-centred working and delivery of care and support.