Exploring the use of strengths-based assessment as an intervention for enhancing strengths in youth : a multiple baseline study
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Traditional approaches for enhancing the mental health of youth have focused on remedying problems and disturbances. Positive psychology, however, focuses on building strengths and resources to promote mental health and well-being. Strengths-based assessment, an area of exploration within positive psychology, aims to identify individuals’ strengths and resources and how those protective factors are drawn upon to cope with adversity. The current study used a single-subject, multiple baseline across participants design to explore the effects of strengths-based assessment (SBA) with seven seventh grade students. The SBA was hypothesized to be an intervention that might positively affect youths’ self-perceived strengths, hopeful thinking, and ego strength through concentrated feedback about their individual strengths. The study also explored how SBA affected teachers’ recognition of participants’ resilient behaviors, participants’ school grades, and school attendance. Results suggested that participants’ recognition of their strengths increased after the SBA, including a significant increase in participants’ self-reported hope. Participants indicated in social validity interviews that participating in a strengths assessment was helpful and meaningful to them. Significant changes were not found for the other outcome variables. This study offers a cogent framework for a SBA that would be practical for use by clinical child and school psychologists and demonstrates the potential of SBA to serve as a therapeutic intervention for youth.