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HOPE on the Other Side


Sep 13, 2018

Dr. Peterson’s background in rehabilitation counseling was reviewed and is thought to be particularly helpful to our listeners. She will further help the audience understand the ideal principles, values, and programs to support those living with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia.

The history and the mission of the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (PRA) were reviewed. That group advocates for ethical and effective resiliency, wellness and recovery-oriented services and supports. A huge shared goal for the Schizophrenia Care Project, Dr. Peterson, and the PRA is to create an environment in which those living with schizophrenia may thrive and find purpose and meaning in their chosen communities.

Although anybody can join, the PRA membership is generally made up of professionals in the field such as rehabilitation counselors, researchers, and educators, whereas other associations such as NAMI tend to include primarily individuals in recovery, their friends, family, and advocates

The twelve principles of Psychiatric rehabilitation were reviewed. They include the concept that individuals with disabilities are the best experts in decision making about their life choices, treatment options, and medical decisions—not doctors or service providers. Doctors and other service providers have valuable skills, knowledge, and experience, but should be part of an integrated team which includes patients and caregivers. Treatment approaches should address all life areas such as housing, relationships, medical needs, nutrition, social life, paid or volunteer work, and participation in the community. Treatment is much more than finding a good medication and medication compliance. Recovery involves all life areas and addresses the whole individual.

Another key idea is that people with disabilities do not need to be “fixed” – barriers to inclusion are in society. Those living with schizophrenia have the right to equal participation in every aspect of society. Vocational training is another principle for many, and work is therapeutic.

Dr. Ken mentioned his past work at a California state hospital in which the Recovery model was used. Dr. Peterson reviewed the holistic approach to treatment as any plan with the overall view of all life areas such as housing, transportation, finances, relationships with loved ones, medical needs, nutrition, social life, paid or volunteer work, spirituality, and participation in the community. This is contained in the evidence-based Wellness Recovery Action Plan. The website link with the WRAP plan information also includes templates for a crisis plan and a post-crisis plan.

Finally, Dr. Peterson concluded with the encouragement that “You are not alone!” You and your loved one who is living with mental illness are the best experts in your situation. There is support and a community for you with NAMI locally and online at Dr. Ken’s open FaceBook public group called “S-Project.”