What does “Recovery” mean?
Recovery of addiction
When most people think about the word “recovery” they often associate it with the idea of somebody trying to stop drinking alcohol or taking drugs, rather than entirely stopping the addiction altogether (Laudet, 2007). Mass media contributes to shaping the concept of “recovery », generally focusing on the struggles of major figures as they try to surmount episodes of relapse and rehabilitation (Laudet, 2007).
Recovery in the realm of mental health
As for “recovery” in the realm of mental health there has long been the same notion of a struggle with no end in sight; for practitioners as well, for a long time the notion of recovery was strongly attached to illness, or more specifically to achieving an absence of symptoms as set out for the disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) (Piat et al., 2009).
Taking responsibility for their lives
Clients and patients themselves, however, in my own experience and as demonstrated by a major Canadian survey, tend to link “recovery” to self-determination and taking responsibility for their lives (Piat et al., 2009).
Over the last decade it is this much more positive idea of “recovery” that has come to the fore; a qualitative analysis of over 30 international documents challenges how mental illness is understood and helped, and in short it is a vision that gives greater independence to people living with mental illness and marks a shift from the old paternalistic mental health practices (Le Boutillier et al., 2011). The goal today is to support patients and clients to find their place in their families and in society, to live meaningful lives (Le Boutillier et al., 2011).
A personal journey to live a meaningful, hopeful and satisfying life
The British National Health Services says it all: “recovery” is a personal journey to live a “meaningful, hopeful and satisfying life” (CNWL Recovery & Wellbeing College, 2019); patients and clients are encouraged to face their challenges to develop their own definition of “recovery” (CNWL Recovery & Wellbeing College, 2019).
Therefore, today “recovery” from anxiety, depression or any other problem of mental health necessarily means practitioners guiding and supporting supporting patients to self-manage and self-determine, to define their own goals and map out their own journey to achieve a sense of well-being.
- CNWL Recovery & Wellbeing College, 2019. What do we mean by recovery? – CNWL NHS [WWW Document]. NHS Central and North West London – NHS Foundation Trust. (accessed 7.29.19).
- Laudet, A.B., 2007. What does recovery mean to you? Lessons from the recovery experience for research and practice. J Subst Abuse Treat 33, 243–256.
- Le Boutillier, C., Leamy, M., Bird, V.J., Davidson, L., Williams, J., Slade, M., 2011. What Does Recovery Mean in Practice? A Qualitative Analysis of International Recovery-Oriented Practice Guidance. PS 62, 1470–1476.
- Piat, M., Sabetti, J., Couture, A., Sylvestre, J., Provencher, H., Botschner, J., Stayner, D., 2009. What does recovery mean for me? Perspectives of Canadian mental health consumers. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 32, 199–207.