Tag Archives: mental health

Podcast Episode 081: How to recover our staff

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2With all the expectations placed on providing excellent service to clients how can we truly expect staff to value others when they don’t feel valued themselves? So, the concept of a strengths assessment should apply equally to staff members as it does to their work with clients.

In this episode I explore some of the key messages from the wide-ranging Gallup organisation’s strengths research. The focus is on why we should pay more attention to developing individual potentials, and less to fixing weaknesses. I also explore those feelings we experience when we are engaged in activity that is most likely connected to our real strengths and talents.

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

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/081-how-to-recover-our-staff/id867043694?i=355718154&mt=2

“If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strengths instead of weaknesses, as unlimited rather than dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow to their capabilities.” [Barbara Bush]. 

Podcast Episode 080: Steve Onyett RIP

IMG_2565xx-682x1024It’s 1992, I’m submitting the manuscript for the publication of my first book. Anticipation is tinged with anxiety, an anonymous reviewer holds the power to launch or terminate my fledgling writing career. All fears immediately recede as I receive pages of positive comment and constructive critique. Many references are made to a newly published book ‘Case Management in Mental Health’ (he beat me to that title by 6 months) give away the source of the review. Steve never did anonymity very well!

Fast-forward 22 years through my publications CV and I realize my latest book would benefit from an appropriate foreword from a recognized expert. They say ‘when you want something doing ask a busy person’, that should have been coined about Steve Onyett as he agreed unequivocally and produced a pitch perfect reflection of the book. Who else could get royalty and the act of farting into a mental health textbook with such skill?

In 2009, while facilitating a team development workshop, I received two of the finest compliments I have ever received. Two senior and experienced practitioners enthusiastically told me how influential my book had been on their work. As they elaborate further it becomes clear to me they are talking about ‘Teamworking’, published by Steve in 2003. As I had been acknowledged in his book I decided to unashamedly bask in the reflected glory. Being Steve Onyett for a few minutes still ranks as one of my finest moments! He loved that anecdote when I recently revealed it to him, but couldn’t help but try to reflect any glory back to me. Steve had a particular modesty when it came to appraising his own work.

In his relationship to others the word that comes to mind for me in describing Steve would be generosity. He gave of his time, but perhaps more important was the quality of that gift. Steve had a generosity of spirit that shone through his passion to understand and help people. To describe Steve by his professional role of psychologist is to miss the point; he was a humanist who believed in the potential of others and dedicated his life to supporting and developing people. His choice of the Spanish word ‘Entero’ was apt for describing his passion for the whole person, supporting people to discover or recover their own solutions, identity and true place in the world.

His conference presentations were dynamic and engaging, and his workshops were always a passionate process of exploration and discovery. Steve understood the stupidity of some of the systems we have created, but was always prepared to work within them to create better leadership and conditions for change. He infused everything he did with a big heart, but on 28th September 2015 that heart tragically failed him. I lost my greatest guide and mentor, and the world of mental health lost one of its brightest lights. To use one of his favourite words, knowing you Steve was truly ‘groovy’… rest in peace my dear friend.

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

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/080-steve-onyett-rip/id867043694?i=355718155&mt=2

This tribute was originally drafted for inclusion on the Centre for Mental Health website at the following link:

http://www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk/News/tribute-to-steve-onyett

Podcast Episode 079: How can we ‘do’ recovery?

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2In recent episodes I have explored the meaning of recovery and concluded that I fully support the original intentions of its service user creators, but despair at the corporate take-over and misappropriation of a good idea. I have also explored how the ‘can do’ strengths approach lends practical reality to the conceptual language of recovery. But how does recovery happen in practice?

In this episode I explore some of the resistance that it, and most new concepts, confront alongside the challenges within a deep-rooted culture that need to change in order to provide the conditions for these good ideas to flourish. I also explore the tools that have been created to implement recovery, but argue in favour of choice if we are to inhabit the service user’s life with the trappings of bureaucracy. Finally, I identify recovery as yet another concept where family/carers express concerns at feeling like they are an afterthought in the discussion of what happens in the delivery of a service.

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

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/079-how-can-we-do-recovery/id867043694?i=355718152&mt=2

“Recovery is something you have to work on every single day, and it’s something that doesn’t get a day off.” [Demi Lovato].

 

Podcast Episode 078: Making sense of recovery

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2Having explored the concept of recovery in the previous episode I concluded that I fully support the original service users’ intentions but despair at the corporate take-over of manifestly good ideas in order to decorate their own complex and confused way of going about things.

As a realist I have to accept that recovery has become a leading mantra headlining the development of 21st century mental health services, but I struggle with the degree of confusion expressed by so many practitioners who would rather not be asked to describe what it actually means. What does the Strengths Approach lend to this set of circumstances?

In this episode I compare the language of the principles of recovery with the practical ‘doing it’ approach offered by the strengths movement. We can sit around and talk about conceptualisations as long as we like, but at some point someone has to do something, and that is where the strengths approach comes into its own.

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

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/078-making-sense-of-recovery/id867043694?i=353576161&mt=2

“I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures.” [Gail Caldwell].

Podcast Episode 069: Strengths-Based Reviews

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2Whether it is the occasional personal reflection or the more structured process in service delivery, we all review our progress from time to time. The purpose is to check in on the progress of our plans and actions towards the achievement of our priorities and goals, and just occasionally to check how we are managing lifes crises.

In UK mental health service the process has become known as the Care Programme Approach (CPA) since 1991. A simple set of indisputable principles were quickly transformed into practices that leave a lot to be desired. The power of a bureaucratic administrative stranglehold has never been more clearly illustrated than in the case of reviews by audited target setting. ‘Person-centred’ is a smoke and mirrors claim for something purposely designed to make services look good on a balance-sheet.

In this episode I outline how the genuine intention of person-centred review can be regained through a visionary, strengths-based and creative approach to individual reviews. It includes a series of questions we should all be constantly asking of ourselves in order to stay on the person-centred track. A Strengths Approach applies equally to people and the processes we come to wrap them up in.

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

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/069-strengths-based-reviews/id867043694?i=348334287&mt=2

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.” [Carl Rogers].

Podcast Episode 068: Working with Strengths Case Study

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2Working with Strengths is a consistent process of identifying strengths through a strengths assessment, leading to the identification of personal priorities. These priorities become the separate strengths-based support plans, but the identified strengths also apply in managing crises and concerns.

In this episode this whole process is illustrated through the details of the case study of Aluna, an African lady arriving in London at a young age, but the victim of horrendous abuses. The case study illustrates how the initial information we receive sets up a very narrow and generally negative picture of a person. Time is the ultimate requirement in order to encourage someone to build trust and engage with services that can be of help and support. The process of engaging trust is most successfully achieved through a focus on a person’s capabilities, not by just keeping them focused on the problems and difficulties they experience.

Aluna was very clear what she wanted, and how she could work with certain services to achieve her aims, but both she and the services held concerns that a strengths approach can also be adapted to resolve.

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

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/068-working-strengths-case/id867043694?i=348334286&mt=2

“If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.” [Abraham Maslow].

 

Podcast Episode 067: Strengths-Based Questions

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2When delivering ideas about a strengths approach I am frequently confronted by the need for practitioners to discuss their most extreme example of a severly depressed completely entrenched person who has no strengths.

My immediate response is that everyone has strengths, just on some occasions it is a greater challenge identifying and developing them. The real failure of perception is to take the superficial picture as the whole picture. We need to dig beyond the surface in creative ways that respond to each individual and their personal circumstances.

In this episode I outline 10 questions to keep in mind when the search for strengths proves most challenging. These questions have some similarlity with the approach adopted in Brief Solution Focused Therapy, with an emphasis on exception-finding, scaling, coping and what’s better types of questions.

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

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/067-strengths-based-questions/id867043694?i=346798305&mt=2

“Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.” [Tom Landry].

Podcast Episode 066: Strengths-Based Planning

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2You may be a supremely spontaneous individual, but we all still need degrees of planning if we are to be confident of setting in motion the powerful action to help us in achieving our dreams and aspirations.

In planning for achievement it is common sense to think that our strengths will be focal in the process, but they apply equally to plans for managing our concerns and crises. ‘Working with Strengths’ is a process that follows the path of strengths assessment to stated priorities to strengths-based support plans.

In this episode I offer brief checklists of prompts to guide the construction of strengths-based plans for achieving our priorities and for managing our concerns. It is the application, not just the identification of our strengths, that enables action and positive change. These checklists should apply equally to personal reflection or to our work in supporting others.

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

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/066-strengths-based-planning/id867043694?i=346798304&mt=2

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” [Anatole France].

Targeted training

Working-with-StrengthsIn health and social care services we have a long tradition of adopting a scatter-gun approach to staff training. Perhaps this is why staff members often feel negative about mandatory training initiatives, or feel that provision is often made as a knee-jerk response to something going wrong. More generous feedback emerges from events that individual’s have personally chosen to attend, but these often have little positive ripple effect out into the team they are part of… if you weren’t there you simply aren’t going to know much about it.

The Practice Based Evidence initiative has long tried to establish a strengths approach to training, as well as to working with service users. The essence is to get all team members to provide a baseline evaluation of the good and not so good practice in their team, against a series of positive statements of best practice that should be relevant to the way they work. Hence, several Practice Based Evidence tools were devised to address different types of teams and different person-centred approaches to working.

In the case of one of the Newham Community Mental Health Teams in 2006 an honest anonymised evaluation of team practice helped to identify the priorities for a subsequent 5-day programme tailored to their needs. This example illustrates how a practice development approach to training initiatives can respond to the needs identified by practitioners themselves, impact on the practice of a whole team, and engage people more in the process of change. This is how a strengths approach can apply as much to team development as it should do for working with service users.

More recently, in 2014/15, a programme of work with North East London NHS Foundation Trust acute care services focused on the place of positive risk-taking in relation to the work of crisis assessment and home treatment teams, including the teams for adult and older adults services. The programme commenced with team-based training workshops in order to focus in on relevant current clinical material and practices. It was followed up some 6-9 months later with in-service conversational semi-structured interviews of 28 staff, and a further number of Practice Based Evidence designed for purpose evaluation tools. The final reporting is a means of identifying positive practice, as well as giving staff a means for identifying what they can and need to change in order to improve the implementation of best practice.

“Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation.” [Ann Voskamp].

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):

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/047-anne-clilverd-interview/id867043694?i=335937142&mt=2