Unit 1a: What is personal recovery?

Recovery is an ongoing process of process of growth, discovering and change.

– Stocks, 1995

What is personal recovery?

This is actually a big question.

The answer is: ‘it depends’.

  • It depends on what someone in recovery thinks it means.
  • It depends on how we define ‘recovery’ or ‘getting better’.
  • Sometimes it is easier to say what recovery is not.

Personal recovery is a process of learning how to live and how to live well. It is concerned with gaining hope, developing a new sense of self, meaning, and choice and control.

Note: recovery is a much deeper process than treating a mental illness. 

Recovery from what?

  • Loss of hope
  • Loss of power
  • Loss of self
  • Loss of connectedness
  • Loss of valued roles

What is the role of hope in recovery?

  • Hope is central to recovery, without hope you wouldn’t be here now.
  • Hope…believing in the possibility that things can get better
  • Hope can be cultivated by the person seeing how they can have more active control over their lives (‘agency’) and how others have found a way forward.
  • With hope anything is possible.


Consider the following questions:

  • What currently brings you hope?
  • Who around you is hopeful for you?
  • What is hope telling you about your next step?
  • What is it like hearing yourself talk about hope?
Download worksheet

Recovery Quotes

Instructions: Read the quotes below.

Consider the following questions:

  • Which, if any, can you relate to?
  • What does the quote mean to you?

What does recovery mean to you?

Instructions: Circle your top three reasons.

Can you still be recovered and have a mental health condition?

It is possible to lead a full and meaningful life and still have a mental health condition.  It’s about developing a positive identity outside of being a person with a mental health condition.  It may be part of you but it is not the whole of you.