Most psychology students are still trained in the medical model, say members of APA’s Recovery Advisory Committee. They learn to identify a
patient’s pathology and treat that pathology.
But psychology students should also learn how to help
people recover the skills they need to function well in society
once the acute problem is resolved, committee members say.
“If I break my leg, I not only want it to heal but want to
walk again and do all the activities I did before my leg was
broken,” says committee member Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD,
commissioner of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral
Health and Intellectual disAbility Services. “It’s no different
with mental illness. People want more than just to not have
symptoms; they want to regain their lives to whatever extent
Now Evans, other Recovery Advisory Committee members
and members of APA’s Committee on Assessment and Training
in Recovery are helping to ensure that future psychologists
learn how to help their patients recover from serious mental
illness and regain their lives. The team has released a 15-module
curriculum for doctoral, internship and postdoctoral
psychology programs that teaches students how to provide
recovery-oriented behavioral health care.
“You need specialized training to work effectively with this
Funded by a subcontract from SAMHSA, APA’s Recovery
population,” says Mary A. Jansen, PhD, a Recovery Advisory
Committee member and director of Bayview Behavioral
Consulting Inc., in Vancouver. “Together, the modules form a
solid foundation of the basic training psychologists need.”
Known as Reframing Psychology for the Emerging Healthcare
Environment: Recovery Curriculum for People with Serious Mental
Illnesses and Behavioral Health Disorders, the curriculum is part
of a broader effort called the Recovery to Practice initiative.
Funded by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration (SAMHSA), the initiative aims to
promote recovery-oriented principles and practices among
mental health professionals in all disciplines. The initiative has
two goals: to create an online library of recovery resources and
to support APA and four other mental health organizations in
developing training materials.
to Practice initiative is contributing materials to the
Recovery Resources Library, available at www.samhsa.gov/
The new curriculum fulfills the second objective.
The curriculum’s modules include one that introduces
recovery-based psychological practice and another that offers a
historical overview of the recovery movement and how health-
care reform emphasizes recovery.
Another module outlines recovery’s empirical
underpinnings. Research documenting that people can recover
from serious mental illness began in the mid-1970s, the
module points out. In the mid-1990s, psychologist Courtenay
“The idea that people actually do recover from serious
mental illness is foreign to many psychologists. 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
MARY A. JANSEN, PHD
Bayview Behavioral Consulting Inc., Vancouver