Genuine Human Relationships, Self-Determination & Personal Strength, Mutuality, Optimism, Healing Environments and Respect
The Organic Recovery Learning Community is intended to be a place where people can have the time and space to embark on their recovery journeys.
Essential to the work is recognising and undoing systemic injustices such as racism, sexism, transphobia and psychiatric oppression.
A Recovery Learning Community supports healing and empowerment for our broader communities and people who have been impacted by psychiatric diagnosis, trauma, extreme states, homelessness, addiction and other life-interrupting challenges through:
- Peer-to-peer support & genuine human relationships
- Alternative Healing and Recovery Practices
- Learning Opportunities
It is a space for anyone who has a genuine interest in taking part in a recovery focussed community and holding its values to share and find connection, information, ideas and opportunities to make change in their own lives and/or the community around them. Our shared experiences and ‘humanness’ are what unite us. Our stories, collective wisdom and strength are what guide us and our community forward.
There are no ‘service providers’ and ‘service recipients’ in the RLC. It is assumed that all individuals who become a part of the RLC for support will also give support to another at some point, and that each individual will not only approach the RLC with the attitude of what he or she can get but also what he or she can give.
We are not, nor do we strive to be, ‘clinical’ workers. The RLC is a community of people supporting people who have been through similar struggles, all on equal ground. We will not attempt to act as therapists or clinicians. We will be ‘professionals’ in peer support, and above all else, in regards to the expertise that we have about ourselves.
Everyone is a leader in the RLC. This does not mean that each person must necessarily take turns at facilitating meetings, organising campaigns or being the point person for a given activity. What it means is that as each of us empowers ourselves to move, question, change, act and be hopeful we thereby (intentionally or not) inspire others in our community to do the same – and then we are leaders.
The RLC believes that recovery is probable for all individuals. This means that all individuals will be welcomed to be a part of the RLC and treated with the belief that they have the power and ability to achieve their hopes and dreams.The RLC shows compassion to those who are struggling. This means that our community recognises that all individuals have ups and downs, and moments when they may ‘relapse’ or need to step away from the community, but that the community will reach out to them in times of need and always welcome them back with open arms and without judgment.
- Emphasis on human rights and citizenship of people with mental health needs
- A democratic and reflective space where power relationships, self-determination, responsibility and ownership by all the stakeholders, including family members, are explored together
- Priority is on facilitating a process that places an emphasis on understanding and responding to mental health issues as human experiences to be learnt from, rather than symptoms of a disease to be suppressed.
- The community membership is placed in a primary role in defining the roles and activity of the community itself
- An environment that fosters dialogical and inclusive safe spaces for professionals, families, users and importantly, citizens
- Human to Human, Peer to Peer Space including people who are experts by experience and experts by profession. Learning to work with each other as partners
- “Nothing about me without me” has inspired the most important human and civil rights movement. New approaches in mental health, such as open dialogue, have embraced this value.
- Ensuring the person makes the decisions in all aspects of their life is a key aspect of the value base of the Recovery Community. This value is intended to put into practice to foster a true democracy with priority given to self-determination and emancipation.
- Asset- and strength-based approaches acknowledge that each individual has a unique set of strengths and abilities that the person can rely on to overcome their problems. Often people who are stuck in services identify themselves as “service users,” as passive recipients of treatments and services that prevents them from taking responsibilities or to pursue their aspirations and dreams.This is shared by the families and services too.
Aims and Objectives
- Respecting the person and their truth as the foundation for commencing a different dialogue, with the perspectives and narratives of the person’s life story.
- Acknowledgment of the person as an expert by lived experience Community members are the real protagonists of their journey. It is about their motivation and choices to move forward in their lives in a process of learning and discovery. For this reason, the daily active presence of intentional peer supporters helps people to believe that recovery is possible. The experience of the peer to peer approach is very important to the process of the journey toward recovery in individual and mutual discovery.
- Asset based approach Recovery Community participants are primarily concerned with recognising and cultivating their assets, aspirations, hopes and interests.
- A whole person, whole life approach focusing on the need to help and support people to be able to continue or regain a life in all its domains such as wellbeing, health, socially inclusion, access to education, work, housing, cultural and leisure activities, sports, faith and so on.
- Recovery as a “discovery” practice enabling and assisting the active participation of people in their own life journey. The approach is rooted in the idea of “diversity” and believes that people can learn how to live with their extreme experiences and gain meaning from it. A direct implication of this approach is the use of language, such as valuing “symptoms” as experiences.
- Developing a “community whole system” with an overall common purpose, supporting the development of “helping communities” where people can create their own opportunities and space where they can commence and continue their recovery and discovery journeys.
- Shared learning environment An important element of Recovery Community culture is to address and discuss important issues together in a shared learning environment of mutual exchanges of similar experiences and solutions. An example is discussing together the contradictions inherent in mental health services and practice, such as the role of medication, which can be understood from different perspectives: of the person taking the medication, the family living with the person and the prescribing psychiatrist. These kinds of discussions can lead to doing things differently rather than trying to do the same thing better
- Trialogical meetings “Trialogue” stands for communication among and between people who are experiencing distress/extreme experiences, family members/friends and mental health professionals, who communicate on equal footing. Recent research demonstrated that Trialogue Meetings encourage disclosure and dialogue surrounding mental health, can improve integration of care between mental health stakeholders and allow for the deconstruction of pre-existing mental health power structures. In Trieste, Trialogical Meetings are used to discuss the ongoing development and set the agenda of the Recovery Community.
The work taking place in the Recovery Community includes ways of supporting reflections on:
- individual recovery
- determining peoples’ dreams
- goals and pathways
- working alongside families
- building resilience in the face of personal and emotional difficulties
- working with voices and other unusual states
- developing and cementing autonomy from services
- extending friendship and peer support networks; engaging in meaningful activities and work
- developing circles of support within our own communities;
- other agendas identified by individuals
From the Person – to the Collective – to the Person
The Recovery Community is based on different complementary processes:
- Supportive processes: ongoing support and mentoring including an open space where all the people that want to give their contribution at any level to promote change are welcome. This represent an opportunity to foster trusting relationships, reflect on progress, general principles and is part of the process of changing culture and practice in other services, as well as to contribute to determining the future of the Recovery Community.
- Individual interventions tailored for a specific person and/or family/social network. person begins his/her participation in the Community by choosing two or more partners to work with, from amongst the workers, volunteers and peer supporters. The shared task of these partners is to support a review of the personal story and clinical story of the people, as well as to develop and work on a personal recovery plan.
- Collective processes in the context of the Recovery Community; An important part of the life of the Recovery Community are meetings which emphasise shared responsibility. Meetings are held to discuss recovery stories, and to learn more about new approaches, for instance the hearing voices approach and also to hear about other recovery testimonials, to view videos and discuss issues with invited speakers and groups. The meetings are also a time when people (including professionals, etc.) can share personal thoughts or feelings and address issues raised by being part of the community, both at a personal and organisational level.
- All members are asked to actively participate in all of the activities such as cooking, cleaning, other activities proposed during the assemblies.