6 Great Programs to Learn More About Mental Health Recovery

Comprehensive recovery training programs now available through SAMHSA “Recovery to Practice” project

The concept of “recovery” as applied to mental illness and addiction is widely accepted by both mental health professionals and by people who have experienced these issues first-hand. Recovery has been endorsed by both the US Surgeon General (1999) and the President’s New Freedom Commission (2003) as the single most important goal of mental health services.

What is recovery?

SAMHSA, the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, offers this working definition of recovery, developed through an extensive forum including input from mental health providers, consumers and advocates: Recovery is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.

What is ‘Recovery to Practice’?

In 2009, SAMHSA initiated a 5-year project called “Recovery to Practice” or “RTP,” whose main focus was to advance a recovery-oriented approach to mental health services by developing and disseminating training programs for mental health professionals to translate the concepts of mental health recovery into clinical practice. A second goal was to create an online resource center for recovery-based educational materials.

As part of the project, SAMHSA approved awards to six national behavioral healthcare provider associations to develop training materials for professionals to embrace a recovery-focused approach to mental health care.

What are the new RTP training programs?

After 5 years of productive work, the six professional organizations launched their RTP training programs. A key component of all of the programs is inclusion of the perspective of persons who have experienced a mental illness. Below is a brief overview of the recovery-based educational programs developed by each association, along with links to each of their RTP websites and the training materials.

1) American Psychological Association

Reframing Psychology for the Emerging Health Care Environment: Recovery Curriculum for People with Serious Mental Illnesses and Behavioral Health Disorders. 

  • Target audience: Doctoral level psychology students and training directors
  • Format: 15 modules with curriculum text, including sample learning activities, evaluation questions, references, required readings. Accompanying curriculum guide.
  • Access: All materials available online. Further dissemination under development.

2) American Psychiatric Association

Recovery-Oriented Care in Psychiatry 

  • Target audience: Psychiatrists, residents and medical students, training providers
  • Format: 9 video modules (20 – 40 minutes each); case vignettes, video clips, discussion questions, additional resources. Facilitator toolkit (slides, speaker notes, case studies, references, instructor tips). Continuing medical education (CME) credits.
  • Access: All materials available online. Future live training sites to be announced.

3) American Psychiatric Nurses Association

Acute Care Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses: Preparing for Recovery Oriented Practice

  • Target audience: Acute-care psychiatric-mental health nurses
  • Format: 8.5 hour course. Six modules in a facilitated discussion format, including video content, live exercises, and manuals for facilitators and participants.
  • Access: Course overview available online. Further full course offerings being developed.

4) Association for Addiction Professionals

Recovery to Practice Webinars

  • Target audience: Direct care addiction counselors and other addiction-focused health care professionals
  • Format: 9 webinars (15.5 hours) with slides, additional resources, continuing education (CE) credits. Optional Recovery to Practice Certification program; requires completion of 30 contact hours of recovery-based training.
  • Access: All materials available online.

5) Council on Social Work Education

Social Work and Mental Health Recovery

  • Target audience: Social workers and social work students
  • Format: 3 webinars, additional resources, continuing education (CE) credits.
  • Access: All materials available online. Further dissemination planned.

6) International Association of Peer Supporters 

Recovery to Practice – Next Steps Continuing Education for Peer Support Providers

    • Target audience: Experienced peer supporters
    • Format: 8 modules; in-person training (24 hours) plus pre-session homework (8 hours). Role plays, activities, group discussions.
    • Access: Participant workbook and video overview available online. Further in-person training events to be announced.

A Call to Action:

If you are a mental health professional:

Recovery-based services are here to stay. It’s time to delve into these materials and increase your level of proficiency with recovery-oriented approaches to treatment. Pick the one from your professional discipline or look at several. Discuss the materials and ideas with your colleagues and students you supervise. Offer to provide informal or formal training on recovery to other professionals in your organization or community, or for consumer and family-focused groups.

If you have a mental illness or care about someone with a mental illness:

Although designed for mental health professionals and students, the RTP materials are very interesting, accessible and best of all, free. Also, they can be very empowering and bring hope to help anyone make further progress in their own recovery. Take time to look through the websites and get an overview, or dive in and study one or more of the programs in full. Get together with a few friends for an “RTP discussion group.” Ask mental health providers if they are aware of these resources, and give them the links so they can become better informed. Share the information with others who are interested in learning more about recovery.

So, here’s a question: What can you do to learn more about mental health recovery? Please leave a comment. Also please consider subscribing to my blog and feel free to follow me on Twitter, “like” my Facebook page, or connect on LinkedIn. Thanks!


SAMHSA Recovery to Practice homepage: www.samhsa.gov/recovery-to-practice

Webinar – RTP Curriculum for the Six Behavioral Health Professions: www.dsgonline.com/RTP/webinars/7.28.2014.html

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