Recovery and Strength-Based Approaches



The current focus in substance-use treatment is commonly and primarily on achieving reductions in problematic drug and alcohol use, and ultimately abstinence in those who can achieve it; reduced offending behaviour; and improved general health, reintegration with education, training, employment, housing and other services.

In recent years, the substance-use field has been very preoccupied with reducing the negative effects of substance use, and especially its effect on criminal behaviours, at the expense of enhacing the positive aspects such as building a satisfying and meaningful life.

The development of recovery-based services places as much emphasis on the people-skills that staff possess and promotes ways of working with services users which they themselves say help their recovery, such as active listening and respect for choice. To maximise the potential for recovery, individuals need to be supported to define their own goals. The role of practitioners is therefore to help clients to identify these goals and achieve them in ways that they find meaningful.


Strength-Based Approaches


Strength-based approaches are seen as an integral part of supporting recovery in both the mental health and substance use fields.

Strength or asset-based approaches focus on the skills and resources that a person has. They view people as being inherently resilient in the face of adversity.

Strength-based assessment has been defined as "the measurement of those emotional and behavioral skills, competencies and characteristics that create a sense of personal accomplishment; contribute to satisfying relationships with family members, peers, and adults; enhance one’s ability to deal with adversity and stress; and promote one’s personal, social and academic development"

These strategies take a more optimistic approach to exploring the client’s problems that does not immediately focus on discussion and assessment of deficits.

In this way it is a more 'possibility-centric', rather than 'problem-centric' approach. This is seen as a more empowering way to support people that increases choice and builds hope and self-efficacy.


Both these approaches are principally concerned with the relationship between those providing support and those being supported. As such there is a great deal of shared content with the Therapeutic Working Alliance training course. Strength-based assessment is also client-led and future-focussed and as such shares characteristics of Solution Focused Interventions.

There is a blog post here on Working with People with Asperger Syndrome and Strength-based Assessment.

Training Overview

This course is very much tailored to meet the needs of the participants receiving the training, but is can cover topics such as:

  • What is 'Recovery'?
  • Strength-based assessment
  • Asset-based approaches
  • Building 'Recovery Capital'
  • Strategies to motivate, engage and retain clients
  • Techniques to build and maintain therapeutic working relationships
  • Promoting, negotiating and agreeing recovery-oriented goals and outcomes
  • Tools, strategies and approaches that promote recovery
  • The roles of other agencies in the process of recovery

Suitable for:
Anyone working with drug or alcohol users who wishes to improve the 'Recovery Focus' of their practice.

One Day

Prior Knowledge:
Previous experience of work with drug or alcohol users would be advantageous, though not essential.

All training packages are mapped to the relevant National Occupational Standards


All training packages include a certificate of training for participants and a comprehensive participant's pack that can be customised to include your details.

Although Soma is based in Lancashire, in the North West of England, we deliver drug and alcohol awareness training across England, Scotland and Wales.