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Recovery - an approach to dealing with mental distress and disorder

Updated on October 12, 2012

I want to share a way of thinking about managing mental illness that I have used with people that I have worked with for many years. It is not my model and I bow to the many people who have developed these ways of working, many of whom are services users themselves.

Recovery is a model that, at it's basis, asks the question: what do you need and how can I support you to achieve that?

In this question are three fundamental constructs:

  1. the person knows what they need
  2. they are the right person to ask about their own needs
  3. the person asking the question can support them


Part of what I struggled with and rallied against as a newly qualified psychologist, was the idea that I should know it all, that the people that I saw should come to me and be told, by me, what they should do, and that I had to solve their problems...or cure them.

None of that seemed possible...or right.

The recovery model, at it's heart asks both to be workers together in the journey; and expects that both should do the work. It also asks that clinician, doctor or mental health worker to go about their work asking the same question of themselves and their colleagues...but maybe that's another Hub!



I guess this seems like common sense and maybe some workers always worked like this...but it is a dramatic paradigm shift for most health care professionals, especially when it is applied to them in their work and home lives. At it's core, it's about taking responsibility for getting the resources around you, that you need to achieve the next step.

One really good example of this is WRAP - Wellness Recovery Action Planning. It was developed by Mary Ellen Copeland and it is an easy-to-use set of questions and prompts, designed to help you plan for wellbeing. Sounds simple...and it is...all the most useful things are!

Below are some links to find out more...go on have a browse!

The Tidal Model

Another lovely way of describing how to use the recovery approach, is the Tidal Model. It gives a whole host of ideas about how to work within this way of thinking, and has a range of lovely images and metaphors associated with the sea that I have found really helpful.

Phil Barker, who developed it, also has a great website, which generously has lots of information and resources for anyone to access.

See the link below and enjoy.


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    • gsidley profile image

      Dr. Gary L. Sidley 5 years ago from Lancashire, England

      Hi Nicola

      I echo everything you have said in this hub.

      Each profession, including our own (clinical psychology), has a lot to learn about delivering a truly recovery-orientated approach to mental health. The secondary mental health services, where the medical model dominates, requires a paradigm shift in order to provide the kind of service our service-users deserve.

      Voted up.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      Thanks so much for the links for information on these models. I agree that recovery should be a journey and the patient should be involved in the decisions regarding his/her future and treatment.


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