Harding, PhD, published a landmark compendium of studies
from around the world, which showed similar rates of recovery
in several countries. Harding identified studies showing that
between 46 and 84 percent of people with schizophrenia had
recovered or significantly improved, for example.
Other modules teach practical skills, such as how to
conduct a clinical assessment that focuses on strengths and a
person’s functional capabilities and how to work with other
professionals and patients to develop recovery-oriented
Three modules focus on interventions. One lays out the
guiding principles of recovery-oriented interventions. Another
describes evidence-based practices, while a third describes
promising or emerging practices and supportive services.
Other modules cover the role of partnership and
engagement in the recovery process, peer-delivered services,
special issues and interventions in forensic settings, health
disparities, systems transformation and inclusion of people with
mental health disorders in the community.
Each module consists of lecture notes, which include
learning objectives, terminology and other items; PowerPoint
slides; a suggested learning activity, such as role playing how
to integrate a peer support worker into a practice or coming
together in small groups to define recovery; a suggested
assessment; and citations and resources, including links to
videos of people in recovery describing their experiences.
APA’s Recovery to Practice initiative designed the curriculum
for flexibility so that training programs can integrate the
approximately 1.5-hour-long modules into existing courses
or use the introductory module along with specific groupings,
such as the clinically oriented or systems-oriented modules, to
create a special mini-course. However, the project team believes
that training in all the modules is necessary for psychology
students to fully understand the concepts and be ready to use
them in practice, Jansen says.
That’s one reason the Recovery to Practice team isn’t just
posting the curriculum on its website for anyone to use, adds
Andrew Austin-Dailey, who directs the Recovery to Practice
initiative at APA. To get the free curriculum, training directors
or others must request it from www.apa.org/pi/rtp or call APA.
“We want to maintain quality control and make sure that
people getting the modules understand what’s expected of
them,” Austin-Dailey says.
For example, the project team expects faculty to present
the curriculum alongside someone who has recovered from
a serious mental illness. (The team can help faculty find co-
facilitators, if necessary.)
Recovery Advisory Committee member Peter Ashenden
says that people in recovery offer a unique perspective on the
“Unless you’ve been diagnosed with a particular illness, you
don’t have as clear an understanding as those individuals who
have gone through that experience,” says Ashenden, the former
chief executive officer of the Depression and Bipolar Support
Ashenden is also living proof of how important a recovery
orientation is. “The system told me I wouldn’t be able to
complete college or hold a full-time job, and I’ve done both,”
says Ashenden, who is recovering from clinical depression.
“Those are the kinds of limitations we tend to put on people
and why it’s so important that we work with our emerging
students so they stop doing that and instead build on people’s
This feature prompted the most enthusiasm in pilot
testing of the curriculum by about 200 trainees in 14 doctoral,
internship and postdoctoral programs, Austin-Dailey says.
“Trainees were very positive about the fact that they could
interact with people who have experienced serious mental
illness as opposed to just hearing about recovery or maybe never
hearing about it at all,” he says. “Very few people, for instance,
understand that people with schizophrenia can and do recover.”
The curriculum’s release is just the first step. APA’s two
recovery committees are also reaching out to psychology
training councils, peer support organizations, consumer
organizations and other groups to get the word out about
the curriculum and promote its use. The committees are
also working to ensure that the upcoming revision of APA’s
accreditation guidelines and principles reflect a recovery
“The idea that people actually do recover from serious
mental illness is foreign to many psychologists,” says Jansen.
“It really is a paradigm shift — one that psychologists must
make in order to compete in an evolving health-care landscape
that emphasizes primary care, interdisciplinary practice and
Rebecca A. Clay is a journalist in Washington, D.C.
For more information about the Recovery to
Practice initiative and the new curriculum,