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June 20, 2013 by Courtenay Harding, PhD

A Celebration of Strength

There are many dictionary definitions of strength. “Being strong in body or in numbers, mental force, potency, cogency of argument, effective action, intensity, endurance, sturdiness, efficacious, and vitality.”1,2 After nearly 140 years of looking for deficits, damage, problems, and pathology, mental health care is beginning to turn upside down and is now learning to focus on strengths to build recovery from serious and persistent psychiatric problems.3.4

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February 28, 2013 by Courtenay Harding, PhD

Appreciating Innate Wisdom

We, professionals, often think that we are the only holders of intelligent observations and trained to understand insights. After all, we have studied human behaviors long and hard, learned about theories and diagnosis, and trained in evidence-based approaches.One of the lessons many of my mentors/supervisors shared with me was the importance of recognizing the innate wisdom lurking in every recipient of our care.

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February 1, 2013 by Courtenay Harding, PhD

Why Is It So Hard to Believe in Recovery? Part II

TWO New York City researchers, Pat and Jake Cohen, undertook a very interesting study in the early 1980s. Both were statisticians in two different departments of psychiatry in the city. Together, they had written one of the primary textbooks on multivariate analysis. In another collaborative study, they looked at the composition of physician caseloads, including, but not limited to, psychiatry. What they found was startling.

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January 15, 2013 by Courtenay Harding, PhD

Why Is It So Hard to Believe in Recovery? Part I

A long time ago in a galaxy far away, I was a nurse at in the neurosurgical unit at Boston’s famous Children’s Hospital. One afternoon, we received a semi-comatose patient named Charlie in our ICU. He was 15, and apparently a really good kid from a terrible neighborhood in Roxbury, a section of Boston next door to us. He and his best friend had found a gun in a trash can. They thought that they had checked the gun barrel for bullets and proceeded to play a game of Russian Roulette. The friend put the gun between his own eyebrows and pulled the trigger.

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December 17, 2012 by Courtenay Harding, PhD

“Recovery” Is Not Just a Fad

Courtenay-HardingI want to talk briefly about “recovery.” Many clinicians and program directors were trained, as I was, to think that regaining marginal improvement or downward course were the only two options open for persons with repeated episodes of serious and persistent psychiatric problems, such as the group of schizophrenias, major depressions, or bipolar disorders. However, there have been over 30 follow-up studies, both short and very long, as well as hundreds of former recipients of services all displaying carefully collected data and brilliant examples about the possibilities of significant improvement and even full recovery.

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