Many practitioners working with clients from a strengths perspective largely rely on ad hoc interventions and employ a simplistic ‘identify and use’ approach. In this article we suggest that clients can extract greater benefits when practitioners adopt more sophisticated approaches to strengths intervention. We introduce an alternative approach that we call ‘strengths development’. This approach is distinguished by the view that strengths are not fixed traits across settings and time (the dominant contemporary approach to personality). Instead we adopt dynamic within-person approaches from personality science to research assessment and interventions on strengths. Specifically strengths are highly contextual phenomena that emerge in distinctive patterns alongside particular goals interests values and situational factors. Strengths are potentials for excellence that can be cultivated through enhanced awareness accessibility and effort. Finally we outline potential psychological risks associated with the strengths perspective that are worthy of explicit discussion with clients.
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