Strengths-based Training & Professional Development2020-03-20T20:06:45-04:00

What if there was a way to make families stronger that also made YOU stronger?

 We have a name for that miracle: Strengths-Based Training.
And UPO not only has it, we’re certified to share it and spread this potent technique across the region.

  • The SFW curriculum’s philosophy includes a set of Guiding Principles and a research evidence core curriculum.  The principles and practices of SFW center upon the fact that everyone has potential, strengths and abilities that can support them in reaching their goals.
  • When individuals and families are supported through a mutually respectful relationship in setting their own goals and developing realistic plans they are more successful in reaching their goals and in making progress towards success and positive outcomes.
  • Individuals and families are culturally different and differences must be acknowledged and respected.
  • Collaboration among agencies, organizations and individuals produce strong communities.  Positive relationships among workers in internally and at various agencies in a community create supportive networks and achieve results.  Collective action also influences policies and procedures to maintain “family supporting environments.
  • Importantly, it is critical Family workers maintain good self-care and engage in lifelong learning in order to support families in achieving their goals and long term self-sufficiency.


Workers in the SFW training program work toward earning the Temple University Credential for Strengths-based Family Workers. There is a national process for insuring that the credential is awarded to all candidates in a standardized manner.
  • 80 hours of classroom based training (14 module/classes)
  • Submit a skill Portfolio demonstrating competence in all SFW practice behaviors, learning objectives, skills and attitudes.
  • Pass the national SFW final exam
  • Must meet the standards of professional honesty and confidentiality for all work submitted
  • All Learners are assigned a certified and qualified educational coach or “Learning Coach” as a mentor to support them through the course and facilitate the process of critical self -reflection
  • Demonstrates professionalism and commitment to ethical practice
  • Recognizes strength in diversity and difference; demonstrating sensitivity in practice
  • Understands and utilizes the power of clear, non-judgmental communication.
  • Demonstrates self -care and lifelong learning
  • Applies strengths based principles to practice with families
  • Applies strengths-based principles to agency and community systems

The National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS) has made recommendations for 7 credits for those who have earned the Credential for Strengths-based Family Workers.


Course Requirements, Competencies & Guiding Principles, Learning Styles, Critical Reflection

Strengths-based Approach, Effective Help Giving Cycle

Empathy, Beginning a Helping Relationship, Non-verbal Communication

What is Culture, Cultural Humility versus Cultural Competency, Identify Your Own Culture, Organizational Culture

  • Framework for strengths-based assessment
  • Elements of powerful questioning
  • Observing, charting family progress towards their goals
  • Family problem solving approach, ​and goal prioritization​ ​
  • SMART Goals
  • Approaches to family goal planning

Identify Your Own Bias and those of Customers, A Plan to Address Your Bias, How Bias Impacts the Helping Relationship

Stress Reduction, Support Systems, Compassion Fatigue, Secondary Trauma, Creating a Self-Care Plan

Cross Cultural Relationships, Home Visiting, “Hot Topics,” Problem Solving, Interpreters

Informal and Formal Resources, Referrals and Follow-up, Special Services, Support Groups

Poverty, Disparity, Impact of Policies and Procedures, Boosts and Blocks in America Culturally Competent Organizations

Ethics, Professional Behavior, Boundaries, Appropriate Sharing of Information, Confidentiality and Privacy, Mandated Reporting

Appropriate Level of Intervention, Advocacy, Organizational, Family, and Community Systems Theory

Observation of Behaviors, Celebrating, How to Disengage from Relationships


This flexible certificate program provides supervisors, managers, directors and emerging leaders with an opportunity to learn and practice skills leading to a more empowered workplace.
  • The first five workshops can be completed in any order
  • Workshops are offered in two series twice a year
  • If you miss a workshop (s) in one series you are eligible to make up a workshop (s) in the second series
  • You have two years to complete the certificate program
  • Submit a Leadership project proposal outlining project goals, and plans.
  • Present the Leadership Project at the 6th workshop

Engaged employees are more productive and less likely to quit. A strengths-based approach to leadership improves employee engagement and builds the capacity of your organization. In this workshop participants will discuss what defines an empowering workplace and identify leadership styles that support empowerment. Through the skill of critical reflection, leaders will identify how their own skills, attitudes and knowledge compare to the core competencies of a strengths based leader. Participants will also reflect on the strengths of their own staff and organization and discuss how to leverage the strengths to overcome challenges.

By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Identify principles of a strengths-based approach and how they apply to leadership
  • Describe shared power
  • Define empowerment and identify difference between being empowered and being empowering
  • Describe the purpose of critical reflection, and the steps to implement it
  • Explain the key features of reflective supervision

Communication plays a key role in creating an empowering workplace and engaging employees. In this workshop participants will learn and practice strengths-based communication techniques that will improve relationships and improve results. Leaders will identify practical strategies to try in their organization such as powerful questions, communicating through conflict and how to turn complaints into actionable statements of value. Additionally, participants will reflect on the need for self-care and stress management.

By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Identify and practice basic strengths-based communication techniques:
  • Active Listening
  • Reflection
  • Empathy
  • Powerful Questions
  • Language of Commitment
  • Identify strategies to support self-care for oneself and for one’s team

In this workshop leaders will reflect on their own culture and how it has shaped their values and beliefs. Participants will discuss the impact that bias has on their work and learn strategies for addressing this bias. Cultural humility will be introduced as an approach to embracing and building on the strengths of a diverse staff and organization. Finally, participants will explore organizational culture and how it supports or blocks an empowering work environment.

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Provide a broad definition of culture
  • Identify elements of organizational culture
  • Reflect on your own values and how they impact behavior and relationships
  • Identify types of bias that can impact judgment
  • Describe how differences in culture can impact supervisory relationships
  • Identify personal and organizational strategies for demonstrating cultural humility
  • Identify methods of influencing organizational culture

Strengths-based leaders don’t ignore performance concerns, they use communication and goal planning approaches to help staff build on their strengths and overcome challenges. In this workshop leaders will practice giving and receiving strengths-based feedback, discuss goal plans, and identify the benefits of using tools to measure progress. Participants will discuss how to hold employees accountable using a strengths-based approach.

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • List benefits of self-assessment and strategies for supporting accurate self-assessment
  • Identify a strength-based approach to giving feedback
  • Analyze performance concerns from a strengths-based perspective rooted in curiosity and collaboration
  • Practice strategies for increasing motivation to change
  • Analyze different methods of monitoring and evaluating progress toward results
  • Identify methods and benefits of receiving feedback

Leaders at any level in an organization have the ability to impact changes that lead to a more empowering workplace. As success depends on different types of collaborations, including those with other organizations, the role of Organizational Culture will be explored. In this session participants will discuss their vision for their team and what strategies they can take to implement it.

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Describe personal leadership vision and compare with agency mission and staff/colleagues’ vision
  • Identify qualities of effective teams & analyze approaches for impacting your team’s effectiveness
  • Practice an appreciative inquiry approach
  • Analyze own opportunity to impact change at both the agency and community level
  • Define key elements of strengths-based community collaborations

This course is available to individuals who have completed the five workshops of the Strengths-based Leadership Series. To complete the certificate, participants must submit a final project plan, implement the project for thirty days, present their project at the Final Presentation workshop, and submit a Final Report.

For more Information and Enrollment, please contact:

(DC Metropolitan Area)

​Donna Anderson, MSW

Instructional Specialist  

202-238-5634 (Office) | 202-491-5130 (Cell)

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