Here are some thoughts based around what I have done and the conversations I've had over the last week.

1. In a conversation with Jean-Louis on Friday, we mused that we did not have a vocabulary to articulate strengths. I guess that what we are saying is that our vocabulary is not well developed. It's a bit like trying to discuss wine. We are all comfortable to say that is good or not so good, but we (I) find it very difficult to describe what is good about it and what is not so good about it. Perhaps a challenge for the Constellation is to develop our skills at articulating the strengths of communities.
There is a part of the Salvation Army's documentation that I always push back against: This is not exactly the way that they express it, but they have developed a vocabulary to discuss strengths. So Claire's texts will talk about drawing out strengths along the following dimensions:
Learning and Transfer
Spritual Life

It seems to me that these are the baskets that they use to discuss strengths. They don't work for me, but I now see what they do and I think the challenge for me is to develop my own. Perhaps we as the Constellation should have a go at developing something that is an alternative/complement/supplement to the Salvation Army's.

2. The 'nature' of the SALT visit is still gnawing at me. In the same conversation with Jean-Louis, he came up with the idea that the conversation that you were looking to have and the relationship that you were seeking to establish was not far away from the initial meetings between male and female one of whom is seeking to establish a relationship (a date in familiar English).

When you look at the SALT visit in that context, things become really very clear. Matt Campbell's 'Five Top Tips for a SALT visit' become obvious. (e.g. don't take a notebook with you; don't write things down during the visit)

It's the most useful metaphor that I've found for the SALT visit. It leads you away from the analytic approach which we have in much of our documentation.

3. I think that we need to develop an alternative to the AAR, that is more in tune with the Ways of Thinking and the Ways of Working of the Constellation. The origin of the AAR (as far as I know) is the United States Army. Don't know much about military operations, but I guess they need to have a clear objective (take that hill, kill those people, destroy that tank). The outcome is usually clear (we did take that hill, we didn't kill those people, we did destroy that tank).

So how about if our questions were along the lines of.

What were the strengths of the people we were working with?
What strengths could they develop?
What were our strengths during the 'action'?
What strengths do we need to develop?

Any other ideas? (Or is it just me who feels uncomfortable with what we have?)


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Comment by Laurence Gilliot on June 19, 2008 at 9:20am
Dear Phil and friends,

The 5 concepts of HCR are the strengths you talked about in your first message.

Indeed, I do agree that to use a framework, we need to see if it adds value and if it creates a positive effect. From my experience what definitely creates effect is to tell someone what strengths you see in him/her. The effect is there, right away, if the reflection is sincere. It is always an incredible boost in someones self-confidence to hear that yes! they have strengths.

Now, how can we help a facilitator to identify strengths within a person or a community, that's the question.

I found the exercise from Caca from the Philippines so interesting. Do you remember?
- Everyone shares his/her dream
- the group listens and then tells the person which strengths we see in him/her that will allow the person to reach his/her dream...
Maybe we could try that out sometime in a community where people know each other well...

Thanks for nurturing the discussion, I love it ;-)

Comment by Phil on June 18, 2008 at 1:27pm
I've been thinking about the questions you raised.
First of all, a question for yourself. What are the 5 concepts of HCR?
Secondly, with regard to using a framework to describe strengths, I think the only test is effectiveness. Does it help us to identify strengths and support them?
My guess is (and perhaps my hope is) that the full richness and diversity of human strengths cannot be captured in any set of boxes and categories. But your suggestion seems to me to be an excellent starting point.
Comment by Jean-Louis Lamboray on June 17, 2008 at 7:25pm
Laurence: this is Colombus' egg!
Indeed the strengths can be seen as the capacity to implement the practices....

Comment by Aude on June 17, 2008 at 3:26pm
I find on "" = Vihcounseling (because i'm wonderring myself about "congruence"):

" La congruence peut être définie comme "l'état d'être" du praticien du counseling quand ses interventions au cours de l'entretien sont en accord avec les émotions et les réflexions suscitées en lui par le client.

Elle suppose de la part du counselor une disponibilité à ses émotions intérieures et une acceptation de ces dernières. En effet, Rogers développe l'hypothèse que "le changement de la personne se trouve facilité lorsque le thérapeute est ce qu'il est", lorsque ses rapports avec son client sont authentiques, sans masque ni façade, exprimant ouvertement les sentiments et attitudes qui l'envahissent de l'intérieur à ce moment-là."

That permit that we are in the same "level". Facilitators and community are together and not separate. we share also. And that facilitators could feel well with strenghts and reaction with SALT visit.

Comment by Aude on June 17, 2008 at 3:17pm
Dear all,

I'm totaly in the same idea then what Phil explain about SALT visit.
I think we coud'nt use notebook, or have "objectives". We just need to go to MEET and SHARE with communities. Just knowing wich is the main facilitator and co-facilitator but not else.

Matt Campbell's 'Five Top Tips are really good and right, i think. We need to go just to share and facilitator need to be "open-mind" and feeling good with strenghts from the communities and have active listening.
(Active listening = really go out to meet each other with respect and authenticity / I found also helping listening "écoute aidante" = Provides guidance in finding solutions but with resisting the temptation to give the answer. Is made by empathy, acceptance and congruence)
But it is difficult to listening because most of the time we already have an idea of the answer to the question we ask and we love being convinced to convinced.

I think the most difficult think for facilitators is with the strenghts of community. But it is so "beautiful". it is the most powerful.

Just live the SALT, don't analyze what you want to obtain, take the time. And if you just speak at first SALT Visit, with no dreams, don't worry, it will come at next visit. But if you could make "growing" the strenghts in the community, and show them their strenghts, then they will want new SALT visit + self-assessment.

That's my feeling at this time...

Comment by Laurence Gilliot on June 17, 2008 at 9:03am
Dear Phil,

Thanks a lot for sharing these very interesting comments.
Already a year ago I had a discussion with Claire about the strengths. I thought that maybe we could use the 10 practices of the self-assessment to talk about strengths.

Claire then agreed that you can easily link all practices with the 5 concepts of HCR. These are actually the same things seen differently.
Would that work?

ex: the strengths we see in this community is that they are strong in inclusion of sick people (inclusion) and they have a strong sense of community (inclusion), they have their own funds (mobilizing resources), different groups work closely together (ways-of-working), etc.

It's confusing to use 10 practices and 5 concepts while we actually talk about the same thing, no?

What do others think?


Comment by Jean-Louis Lamboray on June 16, 2008 at 8:25pm
Thanks Phil! We are on track. I hope others will comment in French or in English!


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