Finding the Right Tools for the Job

As a provider of mental health services, offering a person-centered approach to recovery calls clinicians to not only be flexible, but also objective in order to systematically address the needs unique to each individual. Recovery is not always smooth and positive. When a consumer is marked as “high risk” the reasons for instability are particularly vital for selecting which intervention would be best suited for the individual and in the context of his or her circumstances. Methods for personalized recovery planning defend against relapse and decompensation by accessing strengths and controlling for limitations recognized by the consumer.

Since characteristics of recovery typically constitute internal subjective cognitive and emotional states of mental healthcare recipients, it is difficult to define and reliably measure recovery with consistency. According to Fisher et al. 2009, several scales have been created to assess mental health recovery programs, including: Psycho-Social Well-Being Scale (PSWS) (O’Hare et al. 2003); the Camberwell Assessment of Need and Behavior and Symptom Identification Scale (Trauer and Tobias 2004); Satisfaction with Life Scale (Test et al. 2005); Level of Care Utilization System (LOCUS) (Sowers et al. 2005); Milestones of Recovery Scales (MORS) (Pilon et al. 2006), to name a few. The goal of developing these scales were to identify and standardize indicators that represent meaningful changes in people’s lives, such as employment status, frequency of crisis, engagement with the mental health system, and extent of meaningful roles in the community. Traditionally, providers have evaluated consumers according to their level of compliance with treatment and insight into their illness. Pilon & Ragins (2007) assert insight and compliance are poor indicators because both do not predict engagement in treatment. Consumers may be highly engaged utilizing treatment fully, but still not believe that they have a mental illness. Or they may refuse recommended medications, while participating actively in other aspects of treatment (i.e. group or individual sessions, or pre-vocational training). It is the quality of the relationship between a provider and consumer that may best determine a consumer’s level of engagement. For example, for incidences when treatment is involuntary (thus, absent of a working relationship) long-term changes that would signify recovery, either cognitive, emotional or behavioral, often are not achieved (Pilon & Ragins 2007).

Person-centered recovery involves progress in quality of life as it is defined by the individual. Being aware of where individuals are in their recovery can highlight challenges interfering with moving from higher to lower level care. Each person has the capacity to development their own natural supports; a potential maximized by recognizing when to use the right tools for the right person.

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