Times have changed

These days you won’t find many pastors talking to or associating with prostitutes, murderers, thugs or tax collectors your more likely to find them in there local coffee shop.


Good or God

Not every good thing is a God thing- Eve saw the tree of life to be good, it wasn’t the evil side of the tree of knowledge that Eve was attracted too, it was the good side.

Gen 3:6, there will be a good that will lead Christians away from God.

Deception comes in many forms and ways, the devil will use many tricks to deceive you.

Be mindful of this.


“In the paradigm of mental health, the concept of recovery is understood to refer to a unique personal experience, process or journey that is defined and led by each person in relation to their well being. While recovery is owned by and unique to each individual, mental health services have a role in creating an environment that supports and does not interfere with, people’s recovery efforts (Framework For Recovery Orientated Practice 2011: 01).

Recovery is a word with various meanings. In the context of non clinical practice I take it to mean a personal experience of living as one wants to live without stigmatisation. Recovery is an ongoing personal journey via the circumstances and instances in ones life.  There are ebbs and flows, valleys, plateaus and peaks.  Recovery in a non clinical setting is linked with empowerment personal growth, self determination choice and meaningful social engagement.    I have a holistic view of Recovery.

People experiencing mental Health issues are particularly vulnerable to the micro-sociological phenomenon of stereotyping.  This refers to the tendency of human beings to attribute fixed and common characteristics to whole social groups.(Rogers and Pilgrim 2014: 182)).

I acknowledge people with lived experiences of Mental Health issues are more likely to have experience stereotyping and stigmatisation.  Labels such as Schizophrenia, Bi Polar and Manic Depression conjure up various images in the minds of misinformed members of the community such as violence and hysteria.  People with Mental Health issues quickly move from being stereotyped to being stigmatised.

The aspirational goals of personal growth self determination, choice, meaningful social engagement exist within the context and process of how we interact with the people we are supporting.  Challenge stereotypes and stigmatisation. As Sheppard et al (2007:6)note;

‘The development of recovery-based services emphasises the personal qualities of staff as much as their formal qualifications.  It seeks to cultivate their capacity for hope, creativity, care, compassion, realism and resilience’.

(Rogers and Pilgrim 2014. 91-92).

The people I support have experienced a long historic litany of being told they are not good enough, different or wrong.  I start to challenge negative self belief systems and model hope, care, compassion and resilience, through our everyday interactions with people.  It is not our qualification that makes us useful as workers, it is our skill at providing respect and unconditional acceptance.

It is our modelling or Respect and unconditional acceptance under pressure which potentially has the biggest influence. When the person we are supporting is challenging us and asking us difficult questions about the way we support or the ways we are able to help,  but are still able to offer respect and unconditional acceptance.  Things can be tense and uncomfortable but things can still be okay because respect and acceptance are still happening.  People experience what is like to be worthwhile along their meandering road of recovery.


Department of Health (2011), A Framework for Recovery Orientated  Practice, Mental Health, Drugs and Regions Division, Victorian Government, Department of Health, Melbourne, Victoria.

Rogers, A & Pilgrim D, (2014). A sociology of Mental health and Illness, Open Universities Press ,MC        Graw Hill (Berkshire).

Sheppard, G Boardman, G & Slade, M (2007) Making recovery a reality. London Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health.


The relationships that we strive to bold involve creating a sound working relationships or working alliance, as the platform and the medium for the work we undertake with our clients.

“While it is true that people do not come to us looking for a relationship, and while it is no substitute for practical support, nevertheless we are one of the few groups who recognize the value of relating to others in a way which recognizes their experience as fundamental to understanding and action” (Coulshed, 1991, p.2)


As a case manager or social worker, not only will we work hand in hand with our clients, we will also often act as their early support system. As case managers we need to be sensitive and supportive of our clients and this comes in the form of social support, emotional support, and empathy. A case managers or social worker worth might be measured by how you help our clients build their own support systems in order to help the client have better and longer lasting outcomes.


The ability to be empathetic is paramount in validating our client’s feelings. Empathy helps you to accept your client’s plight and lets them know that you are listening and you are genuine. It is important to be mindful of the use of sympathy. Sympathy can sometimes be confused with empathy. The difference between them is that sympathy is having a concern for a client’s well-being but not necessarily having a deep understanding of their thoughts and feelings.   Whereas empathy means accepting and understanding the client’s feelings which may help you become better equipped to help them help themselves. This is definitely a learned skill and an important tenant of case management practice. Experience in this area will come with more exposure to clients and the diversity of issues that you will tackle.

Value Neutrality:

It is important not to be judgmental of our client’s circumstances by keeping an open mind without imposing your own religious, political, and personal views on your clients. You will be working in many different settings with many different clients whose moral or ethical compass may be much different than your own. You might also work with clients whose values and ideas you are able to identify with. In either of these cases you must use your ability to discern in order to limit the occurrence of transference or counter transference, a phenomenon where the client or the counselor mistakenly redirects their personal feelings onto the other person. Regardless of the type of client or population you work with it is important to trust the social work code of ethics to guide your judgment. This skill will be honed in due time with emphasis on the fact that you must also learn to adequately address your own value system and be in touch with your bias before you can find your middle ground and truly meet the client where they are.

Rapport Building:

Being able to build a trusting relationship with our clients is an art. There can be many variables that can diminish a client’s acceptance of new person in their life. When you are able to support our client, help them identify other support systems, accurately assess their needs, empathize with their unique situation in a non- judgmental and value neutral way, then you can begin to build a strong therapeutic relationship with our client.

“The capacity to be in touch with the client’s feelings is related to the worker’s ability to acknowledge his or her own. Before a worker can understand the power of emotion in the life of their client, it is necessary to discover its importance in the worker’s own experience.” (Shulman, 1999. P. 156)

It is important that we develop these core case management skills in order to be effective. If we are able to master these skills we could have a great foundation for working in the diverse and rewarding field of case management.


COULSHED, V. (1991) Social Work Practice: An Introduction (Basingstoke, Macmillian/BASW.

SHULMAN, L. (1999) The Skills of Helping and Groups (Illinois, Peacock)

Stress & Crisis in Recovery


Most clients who move into supported housing or a residential setting have had a recent crisis where they may have involuntarily or voluntarily been admitted to hospital. In conjunction with recent crisis, clients are also without housing; this alone can be a major stressor. Staff should be able to recognise that despite the major stressors that clients may be experiencing there remains a high level of resilience. Slade ( 2009, p. 13) discusses the importance of focusing on developing a dialogue that identifies a persons strengths, values, coping strategies, dreams goals and aspirations. As the recovery model emphasises ‘the client is the expert in their recovery’. It is therefore integral that staff are fostering an atmosphere where the clients past experiences are valued and strategies to deal with stress and crisis are lead by the client.


It is useful to reflect on the recovery model and person-centred approach when supporting clients who are experiencing stress and crisis during recovery. In addition to this it is important to be mindful of neo-liberalism which largely focuses on placing individual responsibility on people when there are wider structural issues at play (eg. poor access to affordable housing, downsizing in public spending- particularly welfare) (Fook, 2012, p. 22).

It is also important for staff to be reflecting on their practice by becoming aware of implicit ideas and by consciously examining and developing them (Fook, 2012, p. 44).


Staff have easy access to a large number of resources online which can offer strategies to reduce/ manage stress. Before jumping in to offer strategies to clients it is useful to explore the clients lived experience. A useful communication style which is widely used by recovery workers and services is coaching. Coaching assumes that the client is or will be competent to manage their life and that they have capacity for personal responsibility. It focuses on amplification of strengths and existing supportive relationships (Slade 2009, p.8).

Staff can work alongside clients to support them to identify their strengths and coping strategies that may be already utilise. Asking questions such as ‘what keeps you going?’, ‘How have you got through tough times in your life?’, ‘What supports have you found useful?’, ‘who do you lean on in times of trouble?’.


The challenge is to step back from the persons recovery by avoiding dependency-creating relationships, deficit focused assessments and determining when staff are required to support due to structural/ system barriers and limitations.


  • The client is the expert in their own recovery
  • The process of decision making should be kept as close to the person as possible
  • Lived experience is highly valued


Beyond Blue ‘Anxiety and Depression: An information booklet’ retrieved online 25/09/15: http://resources.beyondblue.org.au/prism/file?token=BL/0885

Fook, 2012 ‘Social work: A critical approach to Practice’, SAGE publications, London.

Slade, M ‘100 Ways to Support Recovery, A Guide for Mental Health Profesionals’ 2009, http://www.mhrt.nsw.gov.au/assets/files/mhrt/pdf/100_Ways_to_Support_Recovery.pdf.pdf

Relaxation Training Using Recovery Principles

The major elements of Recovery encompass people, programs and systems aimed at assisting a person to move on with their lives after experiencing mental illness. The concept of Recovery can guide mental health support staff in the following ways when considering Relaxation Training for people staying and living within the community in a residential setting.

  1. Reclaiming a positive sense of self.

This includes obtaining self respect, finding meaning in the experience of mental illness, rediscovering hope regarding the future, and overcoming the negative effects of stigmatization associated with mental health problems. 

Staff can assist a person to discover their own personal strengths, abilities, vulnerabilities and stress triggers.  By asking respectful questions and showing interest in a person’s wellbeing – staff can begin to explore ways for a person to understand more about any stress, worry, anxious feelings or sad thoughts they are experiencing. Through this process staff can support a person to regain a positive self opinion and instill hope that relaxation strategies can be found that will help to reduce the uncomfortable effects that stress can have on the mind and body.

  1. Acceptance of the mental health problem and actively pursuing health.

Self caring behavior as opposed to self neglect, making positive life choices and developing resilience is important. People are active participants in their recovery process by identifying and planning what is needed to maintain well-being. Lifestyle decisions regarding stress management and crisis strategies, and identifying those things that can assist the person to feel stronger are helpful goals.

Staff can suggest activities such as relaxation techniques including muscle relaxation, deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation, soothing music. Staff can also explore individual strategies that have been helpful in the person’s past, such as physical exercise, social recreation, leisure activities, or other relaxation techniques.

A person may need more information on how to practice a particular relaxation technique such as muscle relaxation or deep breathing, and if so then inquiring as to how the person would like to gain this information could follow. If a person wants general guidance about specific techniques then YOUR ORGANISATION could utilize their resource library (including relaxation CD’s; list of web links for people to source more information on specific techniques; printed material etc.)

  1. Moving on – and out of the formal helping system

This is about reclaiming meaningful roles other than as a consumer in a health care system. So as to move beyond the formal health system, new connections need to be made. This can be done by actively engaging within the community, connecting with others, developing friendships, pursuing creative interests, learning new skills or gaining further education.

Staff can assist people to link in with community groups for relaxation training, exercise and sporting groups, self-help groups, or groups that foster the learning of new relaxation techniques.

Prior to leaving the residential into independent living, is also the time for a person to be aware of the relapse services and resources available to them in the community. They can actively plan for their future or possible relapse by having an action plan already in place that will include relaxation techniques as part of their WRAP- wellness recovery action plan- (e.g. Daily Maintenance Plan, Wellness Toolbox, Triggers Action Plan, Early Warning Action Plan, When Things are Breaking Down Action Plan).

The breakdown and benefits of activities and daily routines

Staff could discuss the benefits of activities and daily routines with the clients when they first arrive at their accommodation and could be followed through with prompting during the duration of their stay.

Here is an idea of what activities consist of and how they break down to help benefit and support our clients.

BADLs (Basic Activities of Daily Living) consist of self-care tasks, including:

  • Bathing and showering (washing the body)
  • Dressing
  • Self-feeding (not including chewing or swallowing)
  • Functional mobility (moving from one place to another while performing activities)
  • Personal hygiene and grooming (including brushing/combing/styling hair)
  • Toilet hygiene (completing the act of urinating/defecating)
  • Sleeping

Instrumental ADLs, including:

 These ADLs and IADLs can be remembered by staff with the word- SHAFT, AS DESCRIBED BELOW….

 {SHAFT: shopping, housekeeping, accounting/money management, food preparation/meds, telephone/transportation.}

Together, ADLs and IADLs represent the skills that people usually need to be able to manage in order to live as independent adults. Staff can also work with the client and offer information, advice and guidance around making healthy habits a routine as part of life, which can help a lot with overall recovery.

Healthy habits could include:

  • Taking medication regularly as prescribed
  • Getting regular exercise (talk with your doctor before beginning any exercise program)
  • Eating healthy meals
  • Limiting caffeine and sugar
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Learning relaxation skills, such as yoga and meditation
  • Reaching out for support
  • Avoiding illicit drugs and alcohol

Having a Routine That Works For You Is Crucial To Staying Motivated and Positive

Personally I believe having a daily routine is very important for anyone trying to stay motivated and positive on task/goal. For our clients this task/goal could be sourcing accommodation, employment, or even maintaining their tenancy agreement and abiding by the house rules. I know, for myself, without a routine I would be at the mercy of my easily distracted mind.

Here are some positive points of the routines for the clients:

  • They simplify life. Routines allow us to tackle complex situations of life in a simple way.
  • A little effort is required. Since they are habits that we do almost unconsciously.
  • They increase our self-confidence because we always know—or at least intuit—the scope of our actions. The margin of error is very small.
  • They help us to live more relaxed. We don’t have to be constantly making decisions nor guessing about the future.
  • Practice and task repetition improve certain skills. We learn, we get better
  • They are compatible with creativity. When people achieve a balanced and relaxed life, they have easier access to their intuition and creativity.

I have also jotted down some keys to an effective and positive routine:

  • Sleep Patterns
  • Meals
  • Getting ready for the day
  • Lay out the things that have to get done
  • Exercise
  • Family and Friends
  • You time

The common theme you see in the above information is that of consistency. By having these things laid out for you each day you are freeing your mind from having to make all of these decisions and allowing it to focus more intensely on the decisions that matter most. I think back to when I was a soldier in combat. Did I have to think about where my weapon was or how to use it? Of course not! Did this hinder my ability to meet the goals set before me? Absolutely not! Because using my weapon felt like breathing, I was able to put 100% of my focus on the objectives with no distractions whatsoever.

In addition to the already stated benefits, by doing what you know works, every day; you are avoiding the things that may not.

All it takes to knock you off track is ONE BAD DAY. And what better way to avoid a bad day than to repeat a good one over and over?

Finally, staff could ask clients these bullet points every couple of days or so to see how they are coping with their routine, the questions could be;

  • So what things are working for you?
  • How did you stay on task to meet the goals of the day?
  • What would you change in your routine to improve it?
  • Would you add or remove anything in your routine?
  • Does routine work for you?
  • What distraction did you face during your routine for the day?

Group work ideas and philosophies.

A few ideas that could support you in a organic holistic approach to people who have mental health issues, and who are at the risk of being homeless.

I wanted to take a wellness approach.  Be positive and relate activities to clients.  A deliberate movement away from crisis plans and approaches, belief this may lead a person back into their trauma experience.  Person centered and Strengths based as this builds upon the person and where they are situated at any given point in time. Relate back to people’s live experience and their recovery journey.

I am not an expert nor do I have expert knowledge but lived experience.  We can be role models or mentors if needed, though residents lived experiences make them experts over their own lives.  End goal is to have residents identifying and leading group sessions.

The base underlying theme for group work is Housing, how to get it and maintain it.  Groups can easily go off on tangents during discussions explore issues around trauma, Drug and Alcohol, abuse, family relationships and mental health.  I always want to come back to Housing as this is our primary purpose.  If other issues are identified make referrals to the appropriate services.  Set people up on a sustainable pathway.

Reflecting on the name / title for group work as just the title of group work is steeped in jargon and sets us up as expert.  Idea “Lets Wrap”

Our first come together to focus on “Hopes and Dreams”.

Break Down

Ice breaker- Ice breaker to be fun and seemingly nonsensical but with definite purpose. It’s to be action orientated with less emphasis on being able to verbalise thoughts and feelings.

The best day of your life.

What do you remember about it?  What made it so good?  Who was around?  How did you know it was good?

Write down you favourite thing.  Don’t show anybody what that thing is.  Draw it write it down it doesn’t matter how you represent it as along as its meaning to you is captured.  Don’t show it to any one.

Once everyone has done this go and place it on the head of the person to your left. (With permission of course).  Now engage in a game of celebrity head or concept head.  Everyone tries to guess what is on their head.  Take it in turns.  The person guessing what is on their head can only receive yes or no answers.  If the person asking the question and trying to guess gets a yes response they ask another question.  Keep going until every one has guessed what is on their head.

Share what made the day so special with others.

Three of My Hopes and Dreams are:

Are these on your Support Plan / Future Goal Plan?

Give people a copy of their Support Plan / Future Goal Plan so participants can check. If not do you want to add them?  Don’t have to just an opportunity if you want to.

Animal Farm

Ice breaker – People stand in a circle three tennis balls.  Ask people to hand tennis ball around in a circle and name your favourite animal and its traits that appeal to them.  (Name at least 3 traits)  Impersonate it.  Once the ball has passed around the circle one time, start to throw the ball to others and have them impersonate your animal and some of its traits.  Build speed, the ball becomes a hot potato; add other balls so we get a cacophony of sound.

My ideas (strategies) on how I can bring my Hopes and Dreams to Reality are:

Think about the animal you just named and impersonated.  Think about its traits and how these traits exist in you.  Think about how these traits make you a stronger person (value lay denned Language here).  Think about how these traits have helped you and will help you to bring your Hopes and Dreams to Reality.

Participants to share if they wish.

End Group

Glad Wrap / Cling Wrap.

Three to Five people in my Support Network are:

Name 3 to 5 people in your support network by title, for example Mum, brother, lover, pet cat,  support worker (these are release words).  Write them down on the pieces of paper provided and place in a box.

Wrap each other’s legs or arms in cling wrap so they cannot be moved.  Leave one facilitator unwrapped.  Describe the feelings of being wrapped in the group.  Now start to draw out words of the box, when your word is drawn out release one piece of wrap off your arms / legs.

Facilitator makes sure there are nonsense words in the box so as “release” words are only drawn out periodically.  Once everyone is free, talk about the experience of having one’s support network free the participants from their Cling Wrap turning this activity into a Glad Wrap.

Activities and interests in my Wellness Tool box

The Proclaimers “I’m on my way” or Pharrell Williams “Happy”, play one or both of these songs and ask how it makes the participants feel.  Participants can demonstrate in movement if they wish (dance).

Participants think about (reflect) what gives them the energy to be “on my way” or makes them “Happy” and bring this to the next Wrap.  We want each participant to share with the other participants’ items in their wellness tool box.



The Wrap Breakdance.

Finding your Strength when it’s hiding from you.

Set up the Monopoly board according to the number of participants.  Have the facilitator in a position of financial strength on the board.  Have participants owning property but mortgaged with no more than £350.  The facilitator has £4500 and owns a significant portion of the properties.  All properties owned by the facilitator are fully developed to the hotel stage.    Play out the game to its seemingly inevitable conclusion.

This is done to simulate the notion of housing crisis and support the participants to begin to brain storm what can or must be done when a housing crisis is evident in real life.










In researching tools or ways that we work alongside people I found it useful to reflect on the concepts of clinical recovery and personal recovery. Considering the field of mental health is largely dominated by the medical model it is important that services ensure they are providing a space focusing on non-clinical support. I have included an excerpt from ‘100 Ways to Support Recovery’ by Mike Slade.

Clinical recovery is an idea that has emerged from the expertise of mental health professionals, and involves getting rid of symptoms, restoring social functioning, and in other ways ‘getting back to normal’.

Personal recovery is an idea that has emerged from the expertise of people with lived experienced of mental illness, and means something different to clinical recovery. The most widely used definition of personal recovery is from Anthony (1993)2:

…a deeply personal, unique process of

changing one’s attitudes, values, feelings,

goals, skills, and/or roles. It is a way of living

a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life

even within the limitations caused by illness.

Recovery involves the development of new

meaning and purpose in one’s life as one

grows beyond the catastrophic effects of

mental illness.

  • Recovery is something worked towards and experienced by the person with mental illness. It is not something services can do to the person. The contribution of staff is to support the person in their journey towards recovery.
  • The journey of recovery is individual. The best way of supporting an individual’s recovery will vary from person to person.

 ‘Relapse prevention’- Self-Management in a non-clinical setting

  • Workers to support clients with the transition from being clinically managed to taking ownership of their recovery journey.
  • A necessary requirement for self-management is a sense of agency: a self-belief that the person can impact on their own life.
  • Reducing the likelihood and impact of relapse by utilising tools such as the Wellness Recovery Action Plan which is client directed
  • Wellness Toolbox
  • Daily Maintenance Plan
  • Identifying Triggers and an Action Plan
  • Identifying Early Warning Signs and an Action Plan
  • Identifying When Things Are Breaking Down and an Action Plan
  • Crisis Planning
  • Post Crisis Planning.
  • Working alongside people to identify risk and protective factors for mental health, and to implement interventions that enhance protective factors and eliminate or reduce the impact of risk factors.
  • Relapse prevention is based on communication and understanding between the person experiencing mental illness, their family and carers, primary health care, the specialist mental health system, and community support services about access to support or treatment if there are early signs of relapse.

dsc_1933.jpgConflict Management

There are different strategies used to deal with conflict. Usually in childhood we learn strategies that we feel most comfortable using, these strategies begin to come naturally to us when conflict arises. There is nothing to say we can’t change our approaches to dealing with conflict to learn more effective strategies.

There are two dominant concerns when considering how we engage in conflict management:

  1. Reaching an agreement that satisfies our desired outcomes
  2. Maintaining an appropriate relationship with the person involved in the conflict

There are 5 strategies commonly identified when talking about conflict management:

  1. Problem-solving negotiations- This is where the goal and the relationship are highly valued. Solutions to meet the goals of both people involved are highly sought after and that there are no tension or negative feelings between those involved.
  2. Smoothing- This is where the person finds the goal of little importance and the relationship of great importance. The person involved will usually give up their goal in order to maintain a positive relationship with the other involved.
  3. Forcing or win-lose negotiations- The relationship is of no importance so the person will overpower opponents forcing them to surrender the goal. This can be achieved by persuading, threats, imposing penalties.
  4. Compromising- the person is moderately concerned with the goal and the relationship with the other person. In this situation the part of the goal and the relationship may need to be sacrificed in order to meet an agreement.
  5. Withdrawing- This involves avoiding conflicts, valuing neither the relationship nor the goal. Surrendering your goal and relationship with the other person to avoid conflict.

It is argued that there is no correct strategy; it is about choosing the conflict strategy to suit the situation. Johnson (2005) argues that we should practice all five strategies in the appropriate situation to broaden our skills in dealing with conflict. Sitting with the client to identify their position in the conflict may enable us to offer support around different strategies that can be used.

Some important considerations when negotiating:

  1. Make personal statements that refer to I, me, my or mine
  2. Be specific about your wants, needs, and goals and establish their legitimacy.
  3. Acknowledge the other persons goals as part of the problem. Describe how the other person’s actions are blocking you from what you want. In doing so separate the behaviour from the person. More specifically, a behaviour description includes
  4. a personal statement that refers to I, me, mine
  5. a description statement of the behaviours you have observed and does not include any judgment or evaluation
  6. Focus on the long term cooperative relationship. Discussing how the relationship can change when interacting together
  7. In order to make a persuasive case for your position, you have to clearly understand the other person’s interests and feelings. This requires listening carefully and being able to see the situation from the other person’s perspective.

Sometimes there is not an option for negotiating and it is important we feel comfortable to say ‘no’. Workers can support clients to feel confident to identify when they do not wish to negotiate a conflict.


The Strengths Based Perspective.

The Strengths Based Perspective.

Working from a Strengths Perspective fits well with a Person Centered Approach; both have evolved from the work or psychologist Carl Rogers.  However Strengths Based approaches to understanding human development precedes Carl Rogers by millennia and is based in Aristotle’s theory of Human flourishing (eudemonia).  Basically Aristotle suggests people reach their best version of themselves by developing their innate capabilities. For people to reach the best version of themselves and exercise their innate capabilities people need to be free, self determining and responsible (Gray:2011:5).

Working with clients in a strengths based practice functions to:

  • Emphasise people’s ability to be their own agents of change by creating conditions that enable them to control and direct the process of change.
  • Create conditions that enable people to identify value and mobilise their strengths and capacities in the process of change.
  • Facilitate respect.
  • Facilitate Self Determination.
  • Helps people to believe they are the experts of their own lives.
  • Every Conversation or interaction a person has can shape the beliefs they hold about themselves.
  • The focus of the helping process is on the person’s strengths.

(Bright & Flavell: 2014: 28)

A Strengths Perspective gives people a voice, they are able to share their story, provide context for the events that have unfolded within their lives, legitimising their experience.  A Strengths based Perspective is adaptable and can be used within different settings.

“Strengths based Practice…represents… a trend social workers have been encouraged to refashion themselves into strengths-based, solution focused, capacity building, asset creating, motivation enhancing and empowerment specialists. (Mc Millian in (Gray: 2011: 5)).”

The strengths based perspective is an approach, whereby insights emerge through the relationship with the clients and the stories they tell. It fits harmoniously with a diverse postmodern narrative, spiritual, and multicultural perspectives emerging in social work, which favour an interpreted view of reality.  This sits to a certain degree uneasily within the Social Realism (critical) epistemological stance as societal reality is the interplay between individual human beings (Cuff, E.C, Sharrock W.W & Francis D,: 2006: 60).

Working from Strengths Based Perspective has a major critique we as workers need to be aware of.  This is the conceptual notion of the individual and individualism.  The theme of individualism has been intricately woven into the Strengths based perspective since Aristotle.

Western society values the individual and individual experience; there are numerous writings on self and self expression.  Personal accountability is held high in western cultural value systems.  Workers need to be aware this conceptualisation of the individual buys into a Neo Liberal understanding of Individualism and its associated value base. The popular belief “any one can make it if they just work hard enough” is alive and well and underpins the notion of individualism held tight by Neo Liberalism. Workers who claim a Neo Liberal view of individualism must be highly aware of not blaming the individual for the circumstances they are in.

It is up to the helping professions to reclaim the notion of the individual back from Neo Liberalism.

Bright, C. & Flavell G. (2014)  Graceville Services Guide, Graceville Centre Lutheran Community Care Nambour.  Accessed online http://luthshare.lccqld.org.au/DocumentCenter/CSForms/Graceville Service Guide 2013.docx

Cuff, E.C, Sharrock W.W & Francis D, W. (2006). Perspectives in Sociology, Routledge, (London).

Gray, M. (2011) “Back to Basics: A Critique of the Strengths based Perspective in Social Work.This article takes an in-depth look at the strengths perspective, examining its philosophical roots, its core characteristics (according to its key proponents), and its limitations. It suggests that the strengths perspective is underpinned by a mix of …

Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services Jan 2011, Vol. 92, No. 1 (January 2011) pp. 5-11.

I Survived Cancer #Cancer

Jumping for Joy after surviving Cancer and been cleared for 20 years- this is my story.


In 1994 I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and I was 14 years old, I remember the weeks before being diagnosed I had been snoring really loud and my nose had been running like a tap. My mum sought medical advice from our local doctor who informed my mum it was allergies. My snoring became so loud that I was keeping everyone awake in the house, so my parents decided to have a second opinion and thank God they did.

I remember having to go for a biopsy and for a child this was a big deal, scary too, it was a week or so later and I remember my parents turning up at my school and requesting that I went with them to find out what the outcome was. I remember sitting in the hospital outside the doctors room so scared and nervous, my parents went in first and asked me to stay outside. And then I heard the sound that would haunt me to this day, and that was my mum and dad crying uncontrollably and screaming with emotions. I went into the room and my parents gave me a massive hug saying that everything would be okay, my mum looked me straight in the eye and said, “Andrew, God loves you and he will heal you.” I remember sitting in the car on the way home and feeling a sense of disbelief, a sense of anger and confusion.

We arrived home and my parents took me into the living room and  they began praying over me, and  asking God to heal me completely. I remember them doing so every single day.

Over the next few days I was back and forth to the hospital meeting up with the doctor and his team, the doctor explained the type of treatment I would administered, they was 6 months chemotherapy, followed by 6 months radiotherapy. The doctor explained the risks involved such as; the success rate, that I had 5% chance of having children and the chances of me not seeing my 18th birthday was also slim- the doctor also explained that the tumor was the size of a golf ball and was situated behind my nose in my lymph glands.  My head was about to explode with some much information- I still remember my parents speaking words of faith over me “God will heal you, and God loves Andrew.”

A week later I began my treatment, the first course of chemotherapy was awful, never in all my life did I feel so ill and lethargic, I had constant vomiting and diarrhea. The ironic thing about the treatment was that I had to have this medicine which protected my organs, and it smelt so bad that the slightest of smell made me even more nauseous and sick. The treatment continued over the months and my body deteriorated, I lost a lot of weight and hair, my appetite was suppressed, my confidence was non-existent and I still had to attend to school- I had no hair, eye brows and I looked ill.

The hardest part I remember was meeting new friends who also were having treatment- I would see them 2-3 times a week and then go home for the weekend to recover, on a Monday I would return for treatment and sometimes they wouldn’t.

The chemotherapy came to an end after 6 months, I had lost 20 kgs in weight, was bald, had no eye brows, and was ill- I also forgot to mentioned that I had been rushed into hospital 3 times as my temperature dropped drastically and my pulse was no longer. But again God was with me.

So that was the chemotherapy- I then started my next journey 6 months of radiotherapy, I remember being fitted with a mask, and lying down in scanning machine where the nurses drew lines on my back for the radiographer to navigate- radiotherapy was awful- I thought I wouldn’t feel as sick as I did with the chemotherapy but I was wrong, after every session I was sick after eating anything, fatigued and lifeless- like a zombie, but God was with me.

After all my treatment had finished it wasn’t the end, I then had check-ups every week which involved a lot of blood samples (needles) and I have thick skin so it was always a pleasure. I forgot to mention that during the treatment my parents were prayer warriors- praying for me constantly, along with family, friends and our local church in Richards Bay- South Africa. Every Wednesday evening we as a family attended the healing service.

I am sharing this as an encouragement to anyone out there who has cancer or knows of anyone who has cancer as encouragement, never give up or give in, cancer can be beaten, those words that had been spoken over my life by the doctor had been smashed by the Almighty God- Yahweh, faith allowed me to believe that I would be healed and given a second chance in life. God’s favour and blessing was on my life from the beginning to the very end of my treatment. In the beginning I wrote about my chances of seeing my 18th birthday and even less chance of every having children. Well i’m now a healthy 36 year old man, happily married to a beautiful wife, I have a beautiful baby girl and it was only a few months ago we found out my wife was pregnant again.

After my final scan the doctor and professor were left speechless because there was no trace that I had ever had cancer as there was no scarring at all- totally healed, they themselves said it was a miracle.

Praise God, Amen.




What kind of man are you?

I had the privilege last weekend to attend the Mighty Men’s Conference at Pateley Bridge with Angus Buchan. I wanted to share what it means to be a Kingdom Man.

A kingdom man is a man who wakes up each morning with a vision, a purpose and a determination to gain territory for the Kingdom of God, and as soon as his feet touch the ground- the devil says; “Oh crap, he’s up” A kingdom man aligns himself up with God’s rule, authority and guidance. A kingdom man protects his wife and children, he leads from the front.

A kingdom man understand that the hardest place to be a Christian is within the home, he realizes that he can’t be a fair-weather Christian, by this I mean on Sunday- its praise Jesus- Hallelujah, how are the Patterson’s doing? the pastor asks- and you reply with, great thanks, but at home your mistreating your wife, watching pornography and not disciplining your children.  A kingdom man has a deep understanding that he is the head of the home, leading with love, integrity, honor, respect, compassion, patients and loyalty. He understand that his wife is the heart of the home and his children are a blessing from God.

A kingdom man spends time praying with his wife and children, he understand the value of having meals at the table and communicating with his family about how their days have been, he understands that his wife needs to be shown love and respect,and that he covers the family like an eagle with its wings strecthed out.

A kingdom man realizes that before he leaves home for work his relationship is right with his wife.

A kingdom man realizes that the greatest profession any woman could ever have is being a mother.

Men realize that the devil knows how much God loves family- hold on to your family and take authority in your home, enough with this Peter Pan syndrome- “boys that never want to grow up into men” Your wife wants a man of noble character, a true grit man, a man who has aligned himself up with the word of God, a man who is one of the pillars of the church, a man who physically and mentally looks after and takes care of himself.

Men you are not alone, like a boxer in the ring with his trainer or coach in the corner offering him advice, counselling him on his next move and encouraging him, like the boxer in the ring you too have a personal trainer, we are in a fight, a battle, a war- and in our corners we have our own trainer, a trainer that loves you, that died for you, that knows the number of hairs on your head, and that certainly does not need too much introduction, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit- the advantage is ours, God has given us the blueprint for this fight, the strategies to win, the strength to overcome all adversary’s and hurdlers set before our path.

As your fight begins- Round 1, Round 2, Round 3 you become tired, you become weary, you lose focus,you lose heart, before you know it you’re on your knees ready to throw in the towel, give up and fade away but then you look up and see your corner cheering you on, your strength is regained, you see a legion of soldiers chanting your name, you look up and get up, you put on the full armour of God and stand firm, you shake it off and look the devil square in the eye and say; “bring on round 4”.

I encourage you to read and meditate on  Romans 8:31 and Jeremiah 1:18-19, may our glorious King continue to bless you and your family, and remember spend time with you children- they’re pretty amazing, and spend time with your wife- tell her how much you love and appreciate her.


Where is honesty?

People these days can’t handle honesty- honesty has been stripped away from society.

When you speak honestly with someone they become offensive or try to justify their action or reaction.

Honesty needs to be at the forefront of what we do in life and when we build relationships. Honesty is the best policy- when people don’t like honesty it’s because they themselves are not honest to themselves, be who you are.

But just as important as honesty is, so is kindness, and the world needs a little more of that too.

But what’s true to me might not always be true to you.