How are postmodernism and social constructionism related to the recovery model? The importance of the recovery model to marriage and family therapy practice. How you believe application of concepts from the recovery model will make you a more effective MFT.
Recovery is the process of growing beyond the ill effects of an illness and achieves a healthy, satisfactory, and self-directed way of life so that individuals can attain their full potential. The concept of recovery could be trailed back to the 19th century when John Perceval, the son of England’s prime minister narrated his personal experience of recovery. Today, a revolution of recovery is occurring in the field of mental health. An individual recovers by following a certain approach (i.e. a recovery model) which can be different for every different individual. Recovery model is an approach towards improving the mental health of a person. In this approach, recovery is not seen as a set outcome but as a journey of personal experiences that helps a person in developing hope and a sense of self-empowerment (Jordan, 2003).
The interest in the recovery model has increased among the mental health services over the past two decades. Evidence of such interest can be seen in countries like USA, New Zealand, Britain, and Australia. In Ireland, the Mental Health Commission formed a committee in February 2004 to incorporate the recovery model in mental health services. The committee emphasized on the strategic priorities of the Mental Health Commission that included promotion and implementation of best standards in mental health services and also focused on the enhancement of knowledge and research in the field of mental health. Australia has integrated consumer and care involvement in delivery and service planning in their mental health services but has not yet made significant progress in the terms of execution. Different countries have different jurisdictions, so it is not possible to implement the same kind of guidelines in every country (Busuttil & Liu, 2008).
Various steps were taken in different countries such as the British Department of Health emphasized on the support provided by the mental health system to the individuals going through the recovery process. Recovering individuals are enabled to choose their own settings and have unhindered access to the community resources such as housing, work, education, or whatever they think is necessary for their recovery. While in New Zealand a list of competencies based on the recovery model was developed for the staff in mental health services. In the USA, the concept of recovery was incorporated rather early (in the nineties) as compared to some other mental health systems. Several self-help groups were formed such as Alcoholic Anonymous along with many others that helped people to recover from addiction to the after-effects of a severe mental illness. Similarly, in Australia GROW is an organization which developed in 1957 in Sydney. It is a support and mutual-aid organization that helps people in prevention of and recovery from grave mental illness (Dutton & Ashworth, 2015).
Relationship with postmodernism and social constructionism
Recovery is a continuous process in which an individual regains its capability to learn, work and live as per their full potential. However, there is no generalized definition of recovery and it has different meaning for different individuals. For some people, recovery is a way of achieving a productive, fulfilling, and satisfactory life while for others; it simply implies reduction or complete diminution of symptoms (Sohler, Jerant, & Franks, 2015). A recovery model basically works on four concepts i.e. hope, empowerment, self-responsibility, and social connections (Jacob, 2015).
Hope- It is the belief of an individual that recovery is possible and things can get better. A person needs a sense of hope during the time of depression. Without hope there is no real possibility that things will lead in positive direction. It motivates people and gives them a vision that this state of despair will elude and better times will arrive. Hope creates possibilities and constructs a framework for healing to initiate.
Empowerment- People need to believe in their own capabilities to move forward and grow behind the ill effects of an illness. They need to focus their hope on things that they can achieve for themselves rather than on fixes or cures that somebody else will give them. They need to be encouraged and concentrate on their strengths rather than their weaknesses.
Self-responsibility- This is comparatively a difficult stage for the individuals going through recovery process as they have to take charge of their lives and their needs. They have to try and learn new things, let go of the feeling of anger, disappointment and despair related to their illness. Mental health professionals should encourage their client to fulfill their needs on their own instead on depending on others.
Social connection- In order to recover, people needs to find a meaningful role in the society. A meaningful role helps recovering individuals in ending their isolation and recover from the state of depression. The ability to form a bond with others helps in regaining their roles in the society.
It has been depicted in the history of mankind that mentally ill people were treated harshly in the society. Be it the cave painting or depiction of Renaissance era, mental illness has always been shown as socially constructed disease. Normality is a cultural concept. If a person deviates from the set of agreed-upon beliefs, he is considered as abnormal. Every society has their cultural norms. When a person violates these norms, he is considered as a deviant. However, deviance is not a property of the acts the person commits, but a result of application of rules to a deviant (Stam, 2001). Consider a person talking who allegedly talks to God. He would be considered as a schizophrenia patient if he an old, homeless person, while on the other hand if such things are reported by a Pope, the events would be seen from a different perspective. This clearly indicates towards the social construction of mental illness (Holmes, 2007).
Importance in marriage and family therapy practice
Mental health care involves patients, clinicians, carers, public and purchasers; and all these groups have a different perspective towards mental healthcare and this makes mental healthcare a complex activity. These perspectives could be contradictory and to plan an efficient recovery model, an understanding of the difference between these perspectives is required. One such example is the difference between the ideas of the modern and postmodern world. Postmodern therapies focus on analyzing common opinions and investigating their value in a person’s life. Some common postmodern therapies are the narrative therapy, solution-focused therapy and collaborative language therapy. Postmodern therapies can assist patients in managing their mental health and reduce symptoms of mental illnesses such as depression, addiction, schizophrenia, etc, (Cosgrove, 2003).
A person can develop several mental issues due to the crisis in his family or marriage and sometimes these issues can lead to mental illness such as ADHD, stress, depression or anxiety. So to a recovery model holds great importance as far as marriage and family therapy is concerned. The therapist plays a vital role in a choreographing a recovery model. The person seeking help from a mental health caregiver is prone to have a failed marriage and might be criticized in the society for not taking up the responsibilities. A recovery model helps him to gain self-confidence and empower himself so that he can overcome his mental illness and regain his position in the society (Negash & Sahin, 2011).
The implementation of concepts from a recovery model will help a person to become more effective marriage and family therapist. Having knowledge of concepts of recovery model enables the person to reach the root cause of the problem. MFTs can easily relate with the clients and help them efficiently with the help of a recovery model (Webb, 2011).
Recovery is a journey of personal experiences through which an individual overcomes the after-effects of his mental illness to lead a satisfactory, empowered and healthy life in order to attain their full potential. A recovery model is an approach towards improvement of mental health. The recovery model encourages a person, gives him hope and makes him believe that he can grow beyond the effects of his illness. By following such models, MFTs can also treat their clients efficiently as they would have a better understanding of their clients’ situation and are in a better position to work at the root cause of the problem.
Busuttil, A. & Liu, C. (2008). Developing a recovery psychological model for patients undergoing KPro surgery. Acta Ophthalmologica, 86, 0-0.
Cosgrove, L. (2003). Feminism, Postmodernism, and Psychological Research. Hypatia, 18(3), 85-112.
Dutton, P. & Ashworth, A. (2015). The natural history of recovery from psychological trauma: An observational model. Medical Hypotheses, 85(5), 588-590.
Holmes, J. (2007). Social constructionism, postmodernism and feminist sociolinguistics. Genl, 1(1).
Jacob, K. (2015). Recovery model of mental illness: A complementary approach to psychiatric care. Indian J Psychol Med, 37(2), 117.
Jordan, K. (2003). A Trauma and Recovery Model for Victims and Their Families after a Catastrophic School Shooting: Focusing on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Psychological Effects and Needs. Brief Treatment And Crisis Intervention, 3(4), 397-411.
Negash, S. & Sahin, S. (2011). Compassion Fatigue in Marriage and Family Therapy: Implications for Therapists and Clients. Journal Of Marital And Family Therapy, 37(1), 1-13.
Sohler, N., Jerant, A., & Franks, P. (2015). Socio-psychological factors in the Expanded Health Belief Model and subsequent colorectal cancer screening. Patient Education And Counseling, 98(7), 901-907.
Stam, H. (2001). Introduction: Social Constructionism and its Critics. Theory & Psychology, 11(3), 291-296.
Webb, L. (2011). The recovery model and complex health needs: What health psychology can learn from mental health and substance misuse service provision. Journal Of Health Psychology, 17(5), 731-741.
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