Experiences of support in working toward personal recovery goals: A collaborative, qualitative study
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionBMC Psychiatry. 2016, 16 (1), . 10.1186/s12888-016-1133-x
Background: Recovery can be understood as a subjective process guided by personal expectations, goals and hopes. The aim of the study was to explore how persons using a Community Mental Health Centre (CMHC) experienced that their expectations for treatment, and goals and hopes for recovery were supported by the health professionals during treatment. Methods: Employing a hermeneutic–phenomenological approach, eight service users were interviewed about their expectations for treatment and their goals and hopes for recovery at the start of their contact with health professionals at a CMHC. Two years later, they were re-interviewed about their experiences of treatment and support from the health professionals in their work towards these goals and hopes. A collaborative approach was adopted. A co-researcher with lived experience took part in all stages of the study. Data were analysed by means of a data-driven stepwise approach in line with thematic analysis. Results: Five themes reflecting how participants experienced support from health professionals at the CMHC in their work towards their recovery goals were elicited, as follows: developing an understanding of oneself and one’s mental health problems; learning how to change feelings and behaviours; being ‘pushed’ into social arenas; finding helpful medication; and counselling in family, practical and financial issues. The participants’ expectations about counselling with regard to longer-term family, practical, and financial challenges were insufficiently met by the CMHC. In the experience of the service users, recovery occurred within the context of their everyday life with or without the support of their professional helpers. Conclusions: To facilitate recovery, health professionals should acknowledge the service user’s personal goals and hopes and take a more comprehensive and longer-term approach to his or her needs and desires. Acknowledging and facilitating recovery goals by offering counselling with regard to family, practical and financial issues seems particularly important.