“What do you do? You just sit there while you’re being paid… having a cup of coffee? But of course, it’s not just having a cup of coffee. That’s the point of connection or contact with people… it’s everything else that’s going on between you in that time, you know?”
“I actually find, that because I try and advocate for people I’m working with and be a voice that’s not necessarily always listened to… I then sort of get coined as the soft one, if that makes sense. Like the person who is always, asking people to consider what they’re thinking and challenging things and that’s not… it’s not nice for me.”
Practitioners explained that they had experienced conflict from colleagues within their own organisation and also from other services and even the Local Authorities. People felt that they were often having to challenge others around the use of deficit language or their approach to working with people, and this often put them in an uncomfortable position. People felt that there was a real lack of understanding of strength-based work and it was often regarded as ‘fluffy’ meaning they were looked upon as not being as important or knowledgeable as their peers.
“People think I just get paid for having coffee, they have no idea how difficult some days can be for me.”
Some practitioners expressed that this lack of understanding left them feeling isolated and unsupported in terms of their wellbeing because their job was perceived as ‘easy’.
Practitioners also shared that where their organisations were good at listening and did try to embrace strength-based work throughout, they didn’t experience this kind of conflict from colleagues, and although external challenge still existed, it was easier to deal with because they had the support of their organisation.
Positively, practitioners spoke about the difference in approach being noticed by people they were working alongside, who saw strength-based working as a positive thing. Practitioners also noticed that when others saw strength-based work in practice it generated interest from those not yet working in this way. For example, the use of strength-based language and space for people to lead their own journey and determine goals sparked interest as a new way of working.
“When you’re around other people who have the same strength-based approach it makes it easier. It’s a conversation rather than a battle.”
We can work together to develop a better understanding of strength-based work, to share the impact of strength-based working with individuals, to support the practitioners who are working in this way. There are a lot of great people out there doing great work, everyone wants the best for those who are experiencing tough times.