American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 881-912

First online:

“Nothing About Me, Without Me”: Participatory Action Research with Self-Help/Mutual Aid Organizations for Psychiatric Consumer/Survivors

  • Geoffrey NelsonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University Email author 
  • , Joanna OchockaAffiliated withCentre for Research and Education in Human Services
  • , Kara GriffinAffiliated withWilfrid Laurier University
  • , John LordAffiliated withRyerson Polytechnic University

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Participatory action research with self-help/mutual aid organizations for psychiatric consumer/survivors is reviewed. We begin by tracing the origins of and defining both participatory action research and self-help/mutual aid. In so doing, the degree of correspondence between the assumptions/values of participatory action research and those of self-help/mutual aid for psychiatric consumer/survivors is examined. We argue that participatory action research and self-help/mutual aid share four values in common: (a) empowerment, (b) supportive relationships, (c) social change, and (d) learning as an ongoing process. Next, selected examples of participatory action research with psychiatric consumer/survivor-controlled self-help/mutual aid organizations which illustrate these shared values are provided. We conclude with recommendations of how the key values can be promoted in both the methodological and substantive aspects of future participatory action research with self-help/mutual aid organizations for psychiatric consumer/survivors.

participatory action research self-help/mutual aid mental health psychiatric consumer/survivors