Building Relationships


This self-paced course provides an introduction to the strengths-based approach and questioning cycle. These principles and techniques enhance the quality of interactions and can support individuals to move towards self-sufficiency.

A service delivery approach which builds on individual and community strengths has been adopted by Dandelion House.

This requires a cultural shift with the emphasis changing from a transactional focus to a strengths-based interactional approach.

At a personal level this involves skills of deliberate listening for individual strengths as opposed to looking for a problem or deficit.

The quality of the interaction, as opposed to the length of time spent, is key to bringing about successful outcomes.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course you will gain knowledge of:

  • The strengths-based approach.

  • The questioning cycle.

  • Reframe statements/discussion points to create a positive approach towards problems and goal setting by highlighting a participant’s achievements and strengths rather than emphasising the problem.

  • How to implement these principles and techniques to enhance the quality ofinteractions.

  • How these approaches can support individuals to move towards self-sufficiency.

Please open and read through the power Point presentation and either fill in the text boxes online print the workbook or write down the answers to questions or your own reflections on the material.

Step 1 of 3

  • Topic 1: Introduction to the strengths-based approach Learning outcomes

    At the end of this topic you will have gained knowledge of:

    • The underlying beliefs of the strengths-based approach

    • How use of this approach can support individuals to move towards

    • self-sufficiency.


    At the heart of the strengths approach are social justice principles of respect and empowerment.

    A strengths approach focuses on a person’s strengths not their deficits. It is an optimistic approach that finds the more you focus on an individual’s strengths, the greater they become. This approach places the person as the expert in their own lives.

    “The strengths approach is a philosophy for working with people to bring change”. Wayne McCashen

  • Activity – the strengths-based approach

    Please read the ‘Using strengths and building relationships’ PowerPoint presentation provided.

    What are the underlying beliefs of the strength-based approach?

    Please record your thoughts, reflections and important points in the space below.

  • By asking questions and working with participants, you can help them to discover and value their strengths and capacities to promote change.

    We can become more people oriented if we focus on strengths questions that ask:

    • What has worked well for the participant in the past?

    • What actions participants take to achieve goals?

    • What skills, knowledge or resources they currently use

    Activity – identify strengths

    Some strengths are easily identified, while others are more difficult to uncover. And it’s often more challenging to identify personal strengths than it is to identify our achievements e.g. an exam result, a personal milestone.

    How many of your own strengths can you identify and why? (see attachment A)

  • How would you define the expression “power-over”?

  • Power-over limits potential and ability. We need to embrace the power-with philosophy within the constraints of our business, remembering that we are still bound by legislation and policy.


    Addressing power imbalances is an important underlying principle of the strengths-based approach.

    Power-with is important in fostering self-determination, and is a key component of the strengths-based approach. Record your answers to the following questions in the spaces provided.

    How would you define power-with?

  • The NDIA inherently operates from a power-over position with participant obligations and formal controls over payments.

    Even in these circumstances it’s possible to choose an option that is more power-with than power-over.

    Explain in your words how that might occur:

  • Summary

    Use of the strengths-based approach assists us to help participants identify the freedom they have to make their own choices, and work from a position of strength to plan for the future.

Dandelion House Participant

“Dandelion House’s team has really helped me to become more confident and independent. I found the support workers to be such positive people. They helped me see myself and by doing that, helped me build my confidence.”