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Supporting the Development of a Strengths-Based Narrative: Applying the Leisure and Well-Being Model in Outpatient Mental Health Services

Colleen Deyell Hood, Cynthia P. Carruthers


Strengths-based practice emphasizes the discovery, development, and expression of a variety of strengths as a significant strategy for well-being (Jones-Smith, 2014). The notion of recovery in mental health services refers to living well with mental illness and is often based in creating a self-narrative that includes mental illness but that is not defined by it, or in other words creating a self-narrative of strengths (Onken, Craig, Ridgway, Ralph, & Cook, 2007). The Leisure and Well-Being Model (LWM) (Carruthers & Hood, 2007; Hood & Carruthers, 2007) provides direction for the development of strengths-based therapeutic recreation (TR) programs and this article will describe the development, implementation, and evaluation plan for a TR program designed to address one of the distal goals of the LWM, “cultivation and expression of one’s full potential including strengths, capacities and assets” (Carruthers & Hood, 2007, p. 280) in outpatient mental health services. The literature on recovery in mental health treatment, strengths-based practice, positive psychology and narrative therapy provided the conceptual framework for the application of the LWM to TR services. The resultant program, entitled Be Your Best Self, is described in some detail and the ongoing plans for development and evaluation research are articulated.


Well-being; strengths-based practice; recovery-oriented care; mental health; theory-based practice; narrative therapy; program evaluation; therapeutic recreation

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