Strengths Based Assessment: The Soloist
By Colleen Austin
University of Southern California
Professor Brittani Morris
Strengths Based Assessment2
Describe the character you choose as your focus. Include race, ethnicity, age, religion, sex, marital status, living situation, educational level, internal strengths (coping mechanisms, skills, experience, ability to connect to others, resilience, determination, flexibility, commitment, loyalty, etc.). Mr. Nathanial Anthony Ayers is a middle aged, black African-American man. He is spiritual but identifies with no specific religion, he does pray in the movie, saying the Our Father. He is unmarried, and is homeless. He displays signs of mental illness, most likely schizophrenic as evidenced by his paranoia and he hears voices. He began to hear voices in adolescence. At one point he thought his sister was trying to poison him, so he forced her to eat the food she brought to him. He lived in the basement of the home he grew up in. It wasn’t obvious, but he must have remained living with his sister after his mother died. When he went to Juilliard, he got an apartment and the voices became more prominent. There is no evidence that he was ever diagnosed with a mental illness. He has a difficult time maintain relationships with others because he is mentally ill and continually talks to himself. Nathanial has a high school education. He was also accepted and completed some classical music training from Juilliard, according to a teacher there, he just stopped showing up. What happened in his life from that point until the present is unknown. Although he is homeless, one of his possessions is a violin, which only has two strings. In doing this, Nathanial shows determination, because even though he doesn’t have a complete instrument he stills continues to play it. Strengths Based AssessmentPage 3
Nathanial shows loyalty to his music. He is always playing his violin and in fact talks about his loyalty to his music when he states that “he is holding on to his faith in the power of his music.” (The Soloist, 2009)
Nathanial shows a lot of inner strengths. He has determination, which is evident by the fact that he continues to play the violin, although it only has two strings. He is resilient, evidenced by the fact that he has been homeless for many years, schizophrenic and yet he is surviving on the streets of L.A.
Nathanial shows no flexibility. When Lopez brings him to the apartment, he says that he will play the violin there, but he will not stay there. It was not his apartment he said. II.Significant Relationships
Describe 2-3 significant relationships this character has to other characters in the film, both in terms of role and in terms of the resources and/or challenges that this character offers to your focus character.
Nathanial’s most significant relationship is with Steve Lopez, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times newspaper. Lopez is fascinated by Nathanial when he discovers that he is a classically trained musician, who is homeless and writes a column with Nathanial as his subject. It isn’t clear at first what Lopez’s motives are, other than to write a column that is entertaining and widely read by Los Angeles. Initially, it is obvious Lopez is using Nathanial as his focus. Lopez is divorced although he continues to have a relationship with his ex-wife who is also Strengths Based AssessmentPage 4
his boss at the Times. In fact his ex-wife tells him that there is possibly a book that could be written about Nathanial and essentially accuses him at one point in the movie of exploiting Nathanial. This relationship shifts over time. He is single and finds himself thinking about Nathanial’s “plight.”
He becomes emotionally invested in Nathanial, in that he feels that he can help this homeless, mentally ill...