Vital involvement practice: Strengths as more than tools for solving problems

Helen Q. Kivnick, Sharon A. Stoffel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This article describes Vital Involvement Practice, a strength-based approach to clinical practice with elders, including those who are extremely frail. Using this approach, practitioners have been able to help elders increase later-life vitality and associated positive quality of life through: (1) systematic identification of individual strengths and assets (found both in the person and in the surrounding environment), and (2) consideration of these strengths alongside the individual and environmental deficits that are the subject of most geriatric practice. The approach utilizes original data-gathering tools (Occupational Profile; Life Strengths Interview Guide) and a stepwise, worksheet-structured consideration of these data in order to formulate action strategies for achieving client goals (Domain Scan; Domain Goals; Life Plan/Strategy). All elements of VIP emerged in pilot work with gerontological practitioners and their elder clients in such settings as: primary health care; government social service; subsidized senior housing; private clinical practice; community recreation. Limitations, implications, and promise are noted, with respect to practice and research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-116
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Gerontological Social Work
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Helen Q. Kivnick is Professor, School of Social Work, University of Minnesota, 105 Peters Hall, 1404 Gortner Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108 (E-mail: Sharon A. Stoffel is Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science, College of St. Catherine, 2004 Randolph Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105 (E-mail: Address correspondence to: Helen Q. Kivnick, PhD, at the above address. The authors thank Rosalie Kane, Kenneth Hepburn, Marilyn Luptak, Lucy Rose Fischer, and Nancy Eustis for comments on earlier versions and sections of this article. The pilot and conceptual work for this article received support from the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station (Project #55035) and from the UCare Minnesota Fund Council of the Minnesota Medical Foundation (Grant #1012-99).

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Domain scan
  • Integrity
  • Life strengths
  • Occupation
  • Occupational science
  • Occupational therapy
  • Practice
  • Quality of life
  • Recreation
  • Strength
  • Strength-based practice
  • Vital involvement
  • Vitality
  • Wellness


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