Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 757–774 | Cite as

Transforming Systems of Care: The American Association of Community Psychiatrists Guidelines for Recovery Oriented Services

Community Mental Health Systems
  • Wesley Sowers


Thinking about recovery has grown significantly over the last 70 years, and particularly in the past fifteen. Promotion of recovery has recently been recognized as an organizing principle for the transformation of behavioral health services. Recovery is a personal process of growth and change which typically embraces hope, autonomy and affiliation as elements of establishing satisfying and productive lives in spite of disabling conditions or experiences. Recovery oriented services replace paternalistic, illness oriented perspectives with collaborative, autonomy enhancing approaches and represent a major cultural shift in service delivery. Recovery oriented services replace the myth of chronicity and dependence with a message of individualism, empowerment and choice in the context of collaborative relationships with service providers. The American Association of Community Psychiatrists has developed Guidelines for Recovery Oriented Services to facilitate the transformation of services to this new paradigm. The guidelines are divided into three domains: administration, treatment, and supports, each consisting of several elements for which recovery enhancing characteristics are defined. Several example indicators are also provided for each element. This paper presents these guidelines and discusses their application.


recovery empowerment consumer movement collaboration system transformation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.American Association of Community Psychiatrists, Allegheny County Office of Behavioral HealthPittsburghUSA

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