“We are Actually Colleagues”: Clubhouse Staffs’ Experiences of Working Side-by-side with Members

  • Liv Grethe Kinn
  • Eva Langeland
  • Kimiko Tanaka
  • Larry Davidson
Original Article


Within the psychosocial Clubhouse model, a program designed to foster hope and social and vocational recovery for people with severe mental illness, clubhouse members work alongside of staff and their peers in the “work-ordered-day” (WOD). We need more knowledge about the complexity of the staff role and the associated relational dynamics in clubhouses across cultural contexts. Through the analysis of two focus group interviews, this qualitative study explored the possible differences between Norwegian and American clubhouse staff experiences of the important components of working alongside of members. The findings revealed that the staff in both focus groups valued the importance of the human connections in working alongside as well as the step-wise approaches. Their ways of reasoning had much in common with how Vygotsky explain the importance of stimularing the learner to reach “the zone of proximal development”, through “scaffolding” techniques. The socially oriented, supportive working community transformed both staff and members from “you” and “I” to an “us”. I” to an “us”.


Psychosocial rehabilitation model Learning community Job support Vygotsky Focus group interviews 


  1. 1.
    Raeburn T, Halcomb E, Walter G, Cleary M. An overview of the clubhouse model of psychiatric rehabilitation. Australas Psychiatry. 2013;21(4):376–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Clubhouse International. What is a clubhouse? 2016. Accessed 16 Mar 2018.
  3. 3.
    Carolan M, Onaga E, Pernice-Duca F, Jimenez T. A place to be: the role of clubhouses in facilitating social support. Psychiatr Rehabil J. 2011;35(2):125–32.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kang SK, Kim EH. A phenomenological study of the lived experiences of Koreans with mental illness. J Soc Serv Res. 2014;40(4):468–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Norman C. The Fountain House movement, an alternative rehabilitation model for people with mental health problems, members’ descriptions of what works. Scand J Caring Sci. 2006;20(2):184–92.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Coniglio FD, Hancock N, Ellis LA. Peer support within clubhouse: a grounded theory study. Community Ment Health J. 2012;48(2):153–60.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Tanaka K, Davidson L. Reciprocity in the clubhouse context. Int J Psychosoc Rehabilitation. 2015;19(2):21–33.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Battin C, Bouvet C, Hatala C. A systematic review of the effectiveness of the clubhouse model. Psychiatr Rehabil J. 2016;39(4):305.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    McKay C, Nugent KL, Johnsen M, Eaton WW, Lidz CW. A systematic review of evidence for the clubhouse model of psychosocial rehabilitation. Adm Policy Ment Health. 2018;45(1):28–47.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kinn LG, Tanaka K, Bellamy C, Davidson L. “Pushing the Boat Out”: a meta-synthesis of how members, staff and family experience the clubhouse model. Community Mental Health J. 2018. Scholar
  11. 11.
    Raeburn T, Schmied V, Hungerford C, Cleary M. Clubhouse model of psychiatric rehabilitation: how is recovery reflected in documentation? Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2014;23(5):389–97.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Pernice-Duca FM. Staff and member perceptions of the clubhouse environment. Adm Policy Ment Health. 2010;37(4):345–56.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Chen F. Building a working community: staff practices in a clubhouse for people with severe mental illness. Adm Policy Mental Health Mental Health Ser Res. 2017;44(5):651–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Schiff JW, Coleman H, Miner D. Voluntary participation in rehabilitation: lessons learned from a clubhouse environment. Can J Commun Ment Health. 2008;27(1):65–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Pernice-Duca FM, Saxe B, Johnson J. Factors influencing staff perceptions of the organizational environment of clubhouses. Adm Policy Ment Health. 2010;37(4):334–44.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Malterud K. Fokusgrupper som forskningsmetode for medisin og helsefag. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget; 2012.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Krueger RA, Casey MA. Focus groups: a practical guide for applied research. Los Angeles: Sage; 2009.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Malterud K. Systematic text condensation: a strategy for qualitative analysis. Scand J Public Health. 2012;40(8):795–805.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Vygotsky LS. Mind in society: the development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press; 1980.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Spouse J. Bridging theory and practice in the supervisory relationship: a sociocultural perspective. J Adv Nurs. 2001;33(5):512–22.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Ljungberg A, Denhov A, Topor A. The art of helpful relationships with professionals: A meta-ethnography of the perspective of persons with severe mental illness. Psychiatr Q. 2015;86(4):471–95.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Gallagher M, Muldoon OT, Pettigrew J. An integrative review of social and occupational factors influencing health and wellbeing. Front Psychol. 2015;6:1281.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Doroud N, Fossey E, Fortune T. Recovery as an occupational journey: a scoping review exploring the links between occupational engagement and recovery for people with enduring mental health issues. Aust Occup Ther J. 2015;62(6):378–92.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer (India) Private Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Master`s Program in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Care. Faculty of Health and Social SciencesWestern Norway University of Applied SciencesBergenNorway
  2. 2.Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Department of NursingWestern Norway University of Applied SciencesBergenNorway
  3. 3.Program for Recovery and Community Health School of Medicine and Institution for Social and Policy StudiesYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

Personalised recommendations