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Strengths in Practice

Strengths Perspective in Critical Macro Practice: Tentative Guidance for Transformative Strengths-Based Policy, Organizational, and Community Practice

Speakers: Dr. Jason M. Sawyer, Norfolk State University & Dr. D. Crystal Coles, University of Kansas

In its original inception, strengths perspective turned practitioners to center capabilities, possibilities, and resiliencies. Grounded in critical perspectives, it espoused an overarching view to guide individual and systems level change. Over the last 30 years, it succeeded in transitioning social work micro practice from a focus on problems, disease, and pathology to capacities, resiliency, resources, and potentials.  Though incredibly beneficial, the primary emphasis and implementation of strengths perspective in a micro practice context de-emphasized critical foundations in the areas of power, inequality, liberation, dialogue and collaboration at the systems level. Ideally situated within our current historic and political moment, this presentation aims to provide guidance in returning a critical lens to the strengths perspective across macro practice contexts in policy, organizational, and community practice settings to spur concrete transformational and structural change. It offers various practical ways the strengths perspective can be directly applied in critical macro practice. 

Strengths Perspective Policy Practice Principles                                         

Speaker: Melinda Lewis, University of Kansas

In this workshop, we’ll discuss the principles of strengths-based policy practice, provide examples that illustrate the principles and how they alter the process and product of policymaking and advocacy, and consider how social workers can advance the application of the strengths perspective in policy contexts.