Subscribe X
Back to Top

Learn

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.

Still today, some clinicians persist in thinking that significant improvement or full recovery for persons, who display profound disabilities and symptoms, is out of the question. These stakeholders persist in this belief even though they have begrudgingly gone along with calling their programs “recovery oriented” and “person centered”, etc.  In reality, many programs and clinical staff still provide the same services as usual, which have been relabeled, hoping that this so-called “recovery” nonsense will blow over.In my experience, the challenge is to 1) set up programs “as if everyone will turn around” to maximize what people can get back since there exist now no predictors of who will or will not turn around; and 2) to dare to put aside all that wonderful training received through copious hard work as professionals and sit with recipients, as one human being to another, in order to see the real person underneath the disorder. Finding a person’s old hopes and dreams begins the rebuilding a life of meaning and purpose. Often, having the person begin to help others, no matter how disabled he or she is currently, helps to reclaim hope, resilience, and a life. Let recipients amaze and astonish you!

Some helpful resources:

Davidson, L, Harding, C.M., & Spaniol, L. (Eds.). Research on Recovery from Severe Mental Illness: 30 years of Accumulating Evidence and Its Implications for Practice. (Vol. 1), Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Boston University, 2005.

Davidson, L, Harding, C.M., & Spaniol, L. (Eds.). Research on Recovery from Severe Mental Illness: 30 years of Accumulating Evidence and Its Implications for Practice. (Vol. 2), Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Boston University, 2006.

Harding, C.M.: Changes in schizophrenia across time: paradoxes, patterns, and predictors. In: Carl Cohen (Ed.) SCHIZOPHRENIA INTO LATER LIFE: Treatment, Research and Policy. APPI Press, 2003, pp.19-42.

This article is reprinted from the October 2009 Newsletter, “Director’s New York Minute”, The Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery,
at The Coalition of Behavioral Health Centers, Inc. website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Related Blogs

  • Dr. David Healy

    Dr. David Healy

    Dr. Healy is a professor of psychiatry at Cardiff University in Wales and an author on the history of pharmaceuticals and government regulation.
    READ BLOG
  • Mad In America: Robert Whitaker

    Mad In America: Robert Whitaker

    Journalist and author Bob Whitaker distills the latest in pharmaceutical and mental health research.
    READ BLOG
  • Selling Sickness

    Selling Sickness

    Creating a new partnership movement to challenge the selling of sickness.
    READ BLOG
  • Kathy Brous

    Kathy Brous

    A serial of Kathy's recovery journey as an adult with attachment disorder.
    READ BLOG
  • Nev Jones

    Nev Jones

    Exploring the intersections of psychiatry, philosophy, neuroscience, cultural theory, critical community psychology and the mad/user/survivor movement.
    READ BLOG
  • 1boringoldman

    1boringoldman

    Retired psychiatrist and raconteur offers insightful analysis of the day's events from the woods of Georgia.
    READ BLOG