The 4-D: Strengths-based assessment instruments for youth, their families, and communities

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This paper is a report on a field test of the 4-D, a set of four clinical assessment tools that is based on the Circle of Courage, an American Indian Medicine Wheel that is widely used in youth-caring agencies throughout the United States and internationally (Brendtro, Brokenleg, and Van Bockern, 1990). This article is a companion to an earlier article called “Completing the Circle” published in the Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment(Gilgun, 2002) a few years ago. Tested on youth ages 12 to 19 who have experienced adversities, the 4-D gives equal consideration to client strengths and risks, and guides practitioners to assess aspects of youth, family, and community functioning that Native wisdom has identified as fundamental to the promotion of youth capacities and well-being. Through both quantitative and qualitative evaluations, we found that the 4-D has high indices of reliability and good indicators of validity, and that they also foster meaningful conversations between practitioners and youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-73
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005


  • Clinical assessment tools
  • Culturally-based practice
  • Foster care
  • Rapid assessment tools
  • Strengths-based practice


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