Needs and strengths


Identifying clients' needs and strengths, respecting diversity and promoting recovery are part of my volunteer role, playing an important part in the treatment process and the service of Addaction. How they are identified, the reason they are used and their role in the client's journey will be incorporated in explanatory statements and reflective passages using Schns Reflection on Actions (1983 as cited in Powell 1989). Identifying a client's needs and strengths is achievable through assessment and working in partnership. Assessment is the main tool used to identify needs and strengths, matching the type of therapeutic intervention and intensity with the needs of the client. Assessments, though part of initial screening, are on-going processes, needs change and without continual monitoring and reassessment throughout treatment, support and interventions can become unengaged to the individuals requirements. Effective assessments direct the implementation of comprehensive care and support, bearing relation to the effectiveness of treatment and positive outcomes, benefitting client's, especially those with complex needs,. Where assessment must be done by numerous services, partnership across disciplines ensures continuity of treatment and support provided. Identifying needs and strengths determines the direction of treatment, implementation and options available to clients, their suitability and required skills inclusive of wrongly focused skills and limitations. It enables treatment to be client focused and adaptable increasing the successfulness of that process. Motivation of current and future actions and intentions can be identified from a client's needs and strengths, empowering the client, giving appropriate support and access to services. Interventions must be bases on the motivations of clients, promoting engagement in services at the most appropriate level to achieve their goals. The process of identifying needs and strengths is as important as the implementation of the information gained. Inaccurate or omitted information effects subsequent service actions negatively; this is magnified in treatment outcomes, so competency levels, involvement and explanations of processes must be carefully considered and relative to the client. Using internal frames of reference and sensitivity are important, giving insight into the client situation and needs from a subjective viewpoint, facilitating good communication enables accurate information to be gathered generating effective service actions.


The needs and strengths of a client can affect how care plans and actions are achieved and the method in which they are delivered. They enable the client to articulate their goals; immediate, short term and long term and put plans into motion whilst incorporating what they need, what they want and what they are good at. It allows prevention/coping methods to be put in place for skills they feel they lack or are unfamiliar with, reassessment allows feedback of the effectiveness of these strategies. Throughout treatment needs and strengths vary, physical and mental needs can affect positive or negative treatment results and being cyclic the treatment itself can have bearing on physical and mental needs of a client. Therefore continual revaluation both of treatment and needs are important to maintain balance, integrate focus and ensure the relevance of interventions. Reassessment of needs and strengths is a valuable tool, enabling clients to monitor their progress constructively and from both sides of the practitioner/client relationship. This enables adjustments and reflections on treatment, goals and support regularly involving engagement and participation from both sides. "In order to achieve an effective system that meets the individual treatment needs of substance misusers, there needs to be in place a process of screening, assessment, care co-ordination and treatment review." (Department of Health, 2002 ,p8) On reflection, when a client is referred to our service a comprehensive assessment is done and identifies needs in different ways. Risk assessments, care plans and goals, aims and objective exercises identify needs and strengths and incorporate them in treatment interventions. Clients are encouraged to examine their needs and reflect on situations regularly, identifying lacking skills and additional needs using personal goals sheets. This helps evaluate treatment, enables a better understanding of aims and strengths, reassesses needs and strengthens partnerships. Ultimately by understanding the needs and strengths of a client social inclusion and recovery is promoted. The assessment and treatment process must incorporate personal, social, cultural and spiritual needs of the client's identity, the assessment and the identification of these needs assists in re- affirming forgotten and unacknowledged needs, in their current lifestyle, to the client. Diversity brings richness of experience, knowledge and understanding of the practitioner and client, developing and generating mutual respect and acceptance. Diversity enables both growth and development, creating flexible views and consideration of alternative values. Open mindedness, positive regard and non-judgemental practices enhance the practitioner/client relationship, stimulating communication and insight, obtaining positive treatment results by acknowledging and respecting diversity. Respecting diversity enables tailored insight into the clients' values and principles, treatment respectful of their diversities can be incorporated into care and support, enhancing the experience and outcome. Services have an obligation to comply with current legislation to promoting diversity, avoid discrimination and to acknowledge and compensate for any difficulties or boundaries caused by adopting a strategy positive to diversity. All parts of assessment and care should encompass the individual's needs in relation to diversity. "Issues of cultural diversity and the development of culturally competent services are essential ingredients of effective treatment systems." (Department of Health, 2002, p28) Social exclusion through prejudice and discrimination, towards the client, can manifest as conflict, verbal confrontation, perceived accusations or blame initiated by adopting practices disrespectful of diversity. Social inequalities can be highlighted through diversity, acknowledgment of difference and the fear of difference can present challenging and emotional situations. Such situations if respectful of difference can engage, confront and offer insight though must allow for sensitivity and active participation. Respecting diversity within the workforce is especially relevant for those being treated for substance misuse, due to the range of services and providers, from generic health care, social care to criminal justice. A diverse workforce provides a high quality service with specialist skill set and experiences enhancing the treatment process for clients. (Department of Health, 2002, p) Understand and acknowledging diversity was part of my initial volunteer training, incorporating the diversity of clients and services. Our service has many different aspects to it throughout the criminal justice system, respecting the diversity of environments and clients are essential. Diversity training helps me acknowledge and understand environments and clients enhancing my professional relationships and working practices, inclusive of the diversity of the team that I work with. Within my volunteer placement, my two mentors are from different back grounds, one is ex-police and the other is an ex-substance user. They bring different skills, experiences, viewpoints and methods to the role but with the same principles and outcomes, this benefits the clients and myself, giving a richness and diversity to my placement and the clients experience. Recovery is unique to the individual, personalised to the client and subjective. To facilitate recovery it is important to address the values and principles of practitioners and clients, enabling understanding, acknowledgment and providing a service based on the clients' needs. In order for change to take place, using The Cycle of Change Model (1982 as cited in Davidson, R. 2002), external situations, goals, needs and strengths must be identified, even with the integration of multiple issues, each must be considered on individual merit. Facilitation of change needs to be done by empowerment of the client, enabling the understanding of issues and implementation of coping strategies to be achieved. Recovery is seen to be an outcome of treatment, though in reality it is a sequence of events, inclusive of vulnerabilities and breakdowns that determine breakthroughs and achievements. Often these setback are vital opportunities to grow, learn and change, facilitated by the practitioner, determined by the clients own choices, actions and goals. Clients are experts in their own recovery and experiences, participation must be promoted around this knowledge and insight gained to deliver tailored programmes of care. "To achieve recovery focused outcomes, the treatment system needs to become more responsive to individual needs." (NTA, 2010, p5)


Recovery may differ in interpretation inclusive of reduction, maintenance, stabilisation or abstinence based goals, each determined by the client and of equality importance. Recovery includes the implication of health education, risk prevention and harm reduction methods, drug use though not desired is possible and recovery though achievable may not be permanent. Constant assessment, reassessment and reviews are vital during the recovery process, addressing multiple topics and reviewing interventions, time to investigate and explore is necessary to facilitate change. To facilitated change the programme of care must adapt and respond, promoting and believing in recovery. Hope is vital enabling the client to see that outcomes are achievable, hope and belief in the client's potential is vital to change and the success of implemented care. "There is always hope of recovery and it is vital to communicate that from the start in all mannerisms." (Stickley & Basset, 2008, p133) On reflection, our treatment programmes have time constraints and though the foundations of recovery and the cycle of change are implemented full recovery occurs outside our service. Our perception of recovery within our service is the identification of needs and strengths, the beings of change, hope and the belief that a client is beginning on their journey with the tools, goals, the service support required to achieve their individual recovery goal. To conclude strengths and needs, respecting diversity and promoting recovery are all vital parts of the treatment process, each facilitating and supporting the recovery process. Each is interconnected and interdependent in the implementation of care, treatment and the facilitation of recovery. The successful implementation of each of these positively influences the possible treatment outcomes for the client. Strengths and needs require on-going assessments and include respecting diversity within aims and interventions, which is part of promoting unique recovery, enabling and empowering clients to achieve their desired goals.

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