Excerpted in part from one of my new favourite sources. ‘helping abused women in shelters 2-101 things to know, say and do’. This is a list of strength-based approaches and categories of strength. A person (woman in our case) may have strengths in several categories at the same time, but not likely strengths in all of them. People can develop strengths over time, from exposure to adversity or ability to reflect on life’s experiences. This author (Elsie J Smith) argues that people live in either strength-building environments or strength limiting environments. Abusive relationships are limiting so shelters and transition houses should be strength building environments.

1. WISDOM-Wisdom is the most widely recognized human strength and is often related to age.

2. EMOTIONAL STRENGTHS-Insight, optimism, perseverance, putting troubles in perspective, finding purpose in life, and having the ability to endure. Hope, faith and love of life are also emotional strengths.

3. CREATIVE STRENGTHS-The ability to appreciate the arts and the ability to express oneself in writing, voice and other art forms, having novel and productive thinking.

4. RELATIONAL AND NURTURING STRENGTHS-The ability to form relationships with others, to be cooperative, the ability to communicate, the capacity to nurture others and to have compassion and tolerance.

5. EDUCATIONAL STRENGTHS- Having academic degrees, level of education attainment or informal educations.

6. ANALYTICAL STRENGTHS-Cognitive strengths, such as problem-solving and decision-making strengths and the ability to think and reason.

7. WORK-RELATED AND PROVIDER STRENGTHS-The ability to secure employment, to provide for a family, and to generate income.

8. SOCIAL SUPPORT-Ability to secure or make good use of social support and community.

9. SURVIVAL SKILLS-The ability to avoid pain and to maintain physical survival in a culture or society. Ability to provide for basic physiological and safety needs.

 10. CHARACTER STRENGTHS-The VIA (Values in Action) Institute of the University of Pennsylvania identified 24 character strengths: creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective, courage, persistence, integrity/honesty, zest, love, kindness/generosity, social intelligence, citizenship, fairness, leadership, forgiveness and mercy, modesty, prudence, self-regulation, appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, optimism, humour and spirituality. Five of them are key: gratitude, optimism, zest/enthusiasm, curiosity and the ability to love and be loved. A person could go onto the internet to find a number of VIA questionnaires to get feedback on their own character strengths.