As a concept The Recovery Model inspires hope.


In response to a professional blog regarding The Recovery Model that implies that the model is dangerous and should be dumped.

There is a disconnect between the model and it’s proper integration and delivery. Issues raised in the blog focused on the anti-psychiatry movement and some blame was laid at the models door. Below is my response to this blogger, whom I have great respect for and I empathise with in regards to delivery of the model and the dynamic of scapegoating psychiatry as an evil within our society.

As a concept The Recovery Model inspires hope. It must be noted though that this recovery is in fact personal not clinical. I would caution you not to make the same mistake that you are accusing others of doing. The Recovery Model is a very helpful and useful tool. The twin pillars of person centered and strength based practice are vital in supporting the model as used by a person’s support network, both clinical and nonclinical and the person themselves. It recognises that a person is not simply mentally ill but is a person whose life is affected by the experience of a mental illness. Semantics? No! Truly the second interpretation is more accurate than the former.

Is it become a tool to fund inappropriate interventions? Well yes it can be. When applied by incompetent services or clinicians. The model allows a person to identify their strengths rather than focus on the weakness. This , if done well, improves the quality of the life lived and recognises that while the life experience of illness is fundamentally difficult it does not have to be the entire focus of that person’s life which is the majority experience. So, a personal recovery is a powerful thing on its own.

There are many flaws of delivery to be worked out. But an all-encompassing rejection of the model is unwise and potentially damaging to those who need the perspective it offers.

 Anyone saying differently is deluded or is too rigid in their thinking. The model empowers the individual. Would you take that from a person whose life is complicated and often dominated by the experience of their illness?

When first introduced to the idea I was gobsmacked. Improvement of personal circumstances and the daring concept of hope was an enormous change of perspective. . I know that this recovery is independent of my symptomatology.

Unfortunately as there has always been, there are groups and individuals who rage against psychiatry and psychopharmacology. The agenda for the groups is based around paranoid fantasies and the short comings of medications and therapies. And there are shortcomings. Psychiatry is a science based art. It requires a skill in delivery that really can only be developed over time through experience with patients. That experience is not science. It is rarely repeatable or transferable from one patient to another. Being an interpersonal discipline the effectiveness of the psychiatry is based mainly in the understanding of the individual’s experience of the effects of illness in their lives and how treatment options will or won’t work for them.

Of course individuals have claimed a negative stake in psychiatry as well. This is simply a reflection of the shortcoming of the discipline. Many of us in conjunction with our clinicians strive to find effective treatments. It is quite often the case that the appearance of trial and error is at work within that treatment dynamic. This is a real experience. Because of this many people feel let down and look for a scapegoat. There is also the idea that everything is treatable. If a patient presents without improvement,then that patient might after several changes in treatment, find such a promise as disingenuous.

In my experience with complex PTSD, I was not promised any kind of cure or treatment that would “fix me right up”, there was no magic wand. I knew that and my clinician reinforced that. I am now on an unusual combination of meds that appear at this point to be working, but it’s been 14 years of trial and error.

It doesn’t help that side effects to many drugs are simply too much to bear. I might well argue that we should direct our ire at Big Pharma, for putting patent based profits before better developed medications, rather than the discipline of psychiatry. But if psychiatry rails against this most useful model, it shows itself as being no better than the conspiracy theorists. I suggest we should all work toward making both kinds of recovery (clinical and personal) an experience that helps the individual grow and achieve quality in the lives lead.

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