The STRENGTHCONNECT Model of Wellbeing
Purpose and key ideas
The purpose of the STRENGTHCONNECT™ model of wellbeing is to connect a person with their own inner strength. By using the diversity of the forest ecosystem as inspiration, a person is supported to draw on their own inner resources to develop and maintain optimum wellbeing.
It uses MUSIC, FITNESS, ADVENTURE, NATURE, STRENGTH and CONNECTION to boost motivation.
The key ideas are:
- The person is represented visually by a tree. The trunk representing physical health, crown of the tree representing spiritual health, the leaves and branches representing emotional health and the roots representing mental health.
- The person and their care plan (visualized as the tree) exist within the forest ecosystem. The ecosystem of the forest and the person’s own circumstances include other trees (family members/community), other creatures in the forest eg birds singing (music), deer galloping (dance/movement), food (healthy diet) and the environment where the forest exists. For example, a mountain region/lake region represents the particular health and wellbeing resources available to and accessible by the client.
- Outdoor recreation and adventure activities are encouraged to provide the client with a ‘hype’ about life. How this looks is unique to each client’s unique circumstances. For instance, a person with a physical disability may not be able to physically participate in an outdoor activity of hiking but could watch an immersive nature hiking video within the comfort of a chair outside in their own garden.
- The model reconnects clients back with the natural environment and uses nature-based activities to boost mental, physical, spiritual and emotional wellbeing. Research shows that the brain responds differently to a natural environment vs indoor environment.
- The model sits within the formal medical system. It does not seek to replace or substitute holistic methods for more formal western medicine. Rather, it acknowledges the role of both within the forest ecosystem (care plan).
- The model promotes independence, positive self-esteem, confidence, inner strength and advocacy as its core foundations. It teaches that clients should not feel a burden upon their families or service providers but feel positive about their contribution to their own care, activities and impact in society.
- Clients are supported to identify outdoor activities that boost their wellbeing, confidence, inner strength, motivation and self-esteem. The support team then works collaboratively to be resourceful in making a plan that incorporates these activities. These activities are funded by government funding, where criteria is met. The support team advocates on behalf of the client to access funding, as required.
- Each support team member and the client/family are trained in how to communicate effectively and advocate for the client/ecosystems needs. Training is at a level that is appropriate for the person and their role.
- The environment where the forest exists also includes the support team workers and acknowledges their need for mentoring, personal development, wellbeing and professional development. As always, the environment is acknowledged to have an impact on the forest and vice versa. Therefore, unlike other models, the STRENGTHCONNECT model has a significant focus on the wellbeing of the support team, alongside the client’s wellbeing.
- The model can be universally applied regardless of ethnicity, culture, or personal beliefs. Its focus on nature, the outdoors and adventure create a neutral landscape and each person can bring their own culture to the model.