Rebalancing the scales: from asset-based to asset-balanced practice

Stuart, Kaz ORCID logo ORCID: (2018) Rebalancing the scales: from asset-based to asset-balanced practice. Sociology International, 2 (1). pp. 1-2.

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This article is a think piece presenting a balanced approach between deficits and assets to ensure no babies are thrown out with any bathwater!

Strengths-based and asset-based practice has been a popular concept for practice across health care, youth work, community work and social care. Asset-based approaches grew in popularity to counter the dominant deficit based approaches epitomised by focussing on ‘need’, ‘issues’ and ‘deficits’. The danger of this approach is two-fold. On the one hand it communicates to clients that they are ‘useless’, ‘broken’ and in need of help perpetuating issues.1 This has been described by some as perpetuating and even cultivating vulnerability.2 On the other hand practitioners can unintentionally ‘rescue’ by helping too much which is disempowering, further reinforcing the helpless position of the client. A response to counter this deficit approach has been to adopt an asset-based or strength-based approach. This focuses on the capabilities, qualities, strengths and assets of the client and on their ability to sort things out for themselves.3 Whilst this might at first seem a sensible counter-hegemonic position, it too is prone to issues. On the one hand clients may find it hard to talk purely about their strengths when they feel at their wits ends, they may feel that no one is listening to them or empathising with how they feel, and practitioners may unintentionally place all the onus on the individual leaving them to feel responsible or ‘to blame’ for their situations and issues. This is such a significantly different way of thinking that some have called it a ‘paradigm shift.2

1. Mc Cashen W. The Strengths Approach. Australia: ST Luke’s Innovative Resources; 2005. p. 189–193.
2. Pulla. What are Strengths Based Practices About? Australia: Papers in Strengths Based Practice; 1979. p. 1–18.
3. Mathie A, Cunningham G. Who is Driving Development? The Transformative Potential of Asset–based Community Development. Canadian Journal of Development Studies. 2005;26(1):175–186.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Sociology International
Publisher: MedCrave
Departments: Academic Departments > Health, Psychology & Social Studies (HPSS) > Children, Youth, Families and Community Work
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY-NC 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and build upon your work non-commercially.
Depositing User: Kaz Stuart
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2019 15:27
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 19:17


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