Recovery Education Materials

The much-anticipated final report of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health ( entitled Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America emphasizes that “a life in the community for people living with mental illness can be realized” and that “recovery from mental illness is now a real possibility.” These statements support both the knowledge and experience of many consumers who have written about their personal journeys of recovery and have given witness to the fact that people living with mental illness can achieve fulfilling lives enriched with family, friends, a home life, and employment. However, at the same time, many consumers, family members, and practitioners search for information that will guide and inspire countless other individuals experiencing mental illness who may not have easy access to information and support.

This issue of Recovery and Rehabilitation highlights three different recovery education resources that have been used extensively and have also been successfully adapted by many consumers in their recovery process. These resources include Pathways to Recovery: A Strengths Recovery Self-Help Workbook by Priscilla Ridgeway, Diane McDiarmid, Lori Davidson, Julie Bayes and Others, The Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) by Mary Ellen Copeland and The Recovery Workbook I by Leroy Spaniol, Martin Koehler and Dori Hutchinson and The Recovery Workbook II by Leroy Spaniol, Richard Bellingham, Barry Cohen and Susan Spaniol. For the purpose of this newsletter each resource is briefly described and comments by individuals are highlighted to help exemplify the user experience. My special thanks to the authors for their support and to the people who were willing to share ideas about how these resources have been helpful.

Pathways to Recovery: A Strengths Recovery Self-Help Workbook

By Priscilla Ridgeway, Diane McDiarmid, Lori Davidson, Julie Bayes and others

This workbook uses the metaphor of a journey to take the reader through a process of exploration, self-discovery, and planning that helps to set life goals and realize personal dreams. Unlike most other recovery self-help materials, Pathways to Recovery, does not concentrate on psychiatric disorders, symptoms or treatments. Instead, Pathways, promotes recovery in the domains of life such as having a sense of home, increasing knowledge and education, finding work or volunteer activities that bring satisfaction, developing meaningful relationships with others, achieving intimacy and enhancing sexuality, attaining higher levels of wellness, and exploring spirituality.

In the foreword of the workbook, Dr. Patricia Deegan notes “I find it refreshing that Pathways to Recovery addresses issues of real concern to mature adults diagnosed with mental illness. There are sections about human sexuality, intimacy, and economic well-being. The workbook does not have to be approached in a linear fashion. It is geared to meet people where they are. Because the authors were careful to gather consumer/survivor input through advisory boards, focus groups and workshops, the self-help exercises are very practical and easy to learn.”

Pathways to Recovery also includes more than thirty first-person accounts of recovery and provides inspiration and guidelines so that readers can create and share their own stories. For example, a perspective from Janice Driscoll, RN, a Kansas Consumer and Recovery Educator:

The impact of using the skills I gained will continue to grow as I continue to learn and adapt them to new situations. How I deal with life’s stress is not only important to me… I realize that I am also setting an example for my children, so that they learn healthy coping skills that they can use to meet the challenges of their lives. Taking care of my body, mind and spirit will be a life-long effort, allowing me to have a balanced, health and fulfilling life.

Arthur J. Williams, a CSP Coordinator with Valeo Behavioral Health Care in Topeka, Kansas describes his first impressions and experience with implementing Pathways to Recovery.

Pathways discusses and uses the strength approach to recovery, exploring such topics as motivation, living situation, career path, social support and vision for the future to name a few. Upon implementation in my agency, I discovered that this would be a program that could have a 12- week format. Because of its rich and informative content, using Pathways invoked in-depth discussions and provided a road map for recovery using very individual strengths. Two years later, class sizes were so large that we had to add a second class to satisfy the enthusiasm. Pathways has become a core class at the University of CARE, a psychosocial program at Valeo Behavioral Health Care.Pathways created opportunities for many consumers to experience personal growth and empowerment. This may sound like just another endorsement, if not for the 75 recovering spirits enrolled just this semester. Pathways will not produce world peace nor balance any budget, but it may inspire one who will.

Pathways to Recovery is published by the Office of Mental Health, Research & Training at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare. Training curricula, facilitator training, and technical assistance are also available.

For more information contact Sara Ratzlaff at or call 785/856-2880, ext. 109 or call toll free 877/458-6804. Cost per book is $15 for consumers/$20 for all others with $5 for shipping and handling per book.

Recovery and The Wellness Recovery Action Plan

By Mary Ellen Copeland

Researcher, author, and educator Mary Ellen Copeland has spent the last 12 years studying how people who have various mental health issues help themselves to feel better and how they recover. She shares this mental health recovery self-help information in highly respected and popular publications, videos, audios and a CD Rom. The Wellness Recovery Action Plan, known as WRAP, is used widely across the United States and around the world and is considered an exemplary practice by the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Mary Ellen stresses that WRAP has helped numerous people who experience difficult psychiatric symptoms, some for many years, take charge of their lives and move on with recovery. WRAP is a structured system for keeping well and for responding to difficult symptoms or troubling things that happen when a person is not feeling well. WRAP does not tell you what to do, but rather WRAP helps each person figure out what to do for him/herself in a totally self-determined approach. In her newest video productions series, Mary Ellen presents “Key Concepts for Mental Health” with an introduction to the underlying principles of the recovery model. Lively and insightful discussions include hope, personal responsibility, education, self-advocacy, support health care and medication. The video for the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) highlights a simple system for monitoring and managing emotional and psychiatric symptoms, as well as avoiding unhealthy habits or behavior patterns. In this video, Ms. Copeland discusses with her group the steps to developing a “WRAP.” In order to arrest symptoms and hasten remission and recovery, participants both learn and share personal strategies for dealing with each level of relapse. The Wellness Toolbox introduces the concept of “wellness tools”—simple actions that anyone can do to feel better and to stay well. Participants discuss with Ms. Copeland how to create a personal “toolbox” for their own use in times of stress or increased symptoms. The video is organized into various topics including reaching out for support, peer counseling, focusing, relaxation and stress reduction, and journaling. These three videos are also available in curriculum format.
Mary Ellen has created a “train the trainer” approach for mental health recovery including a Wellness Recovery Action Planning Curriculum: Facilitator Training Manual to increase the number of individuals skilled as WRAP trainers. In addition, there is a Facilitator Training Mental Health Recovery Correspondence Course to teach mental health recovery concepts and skills as well as how to develop a Wellness Recovery Action Plan for yourself and/or to share with others.
For product costs and ordering information related to publications, resource materials, and seminars visit Mary Ellen Copeland’s extensive website at

The Recovery Workbook I: Practical Coping and Empowerment Strategies for People with Psychiatric Disabilities

By Leroy Spaniol, Martin Koehler and Dori Hutchinson 

(with The Leader’s Guide: The Recovery Workbook and The Experience of Recovery)

These workbooks and collateral guides comprise the Recovery Education Program developed as a resource for professionals, family members, and consumers/survivors to help people who experience psychiatric disability begin the process of recovery. In The Recovery Workbook, each chapter focuses on helping participants increase their awareness and understanding of the recovery process as well as developing coping and empowerment strategies for recovery. Practical information and practice exercises for skill building and goal setting are also provided to help strengthen the recovery process. Consumers and/or professional leaders can use The Recovery Workbook as part of a workshop, course, or seminar and it can also be used by individuals for self-study or in self-help groups. The Leader’s Guide: The Recovery Workbook is intended to develop facilitation and teaching skills and provides ideas on how to recruit participants as well as how to design and deliver successful training. Lastly, the Experience of Recovery is a collection of personal accounts of recovery that can be integrated as part of the class or group experience.

Rita Wheeler, Program Development and Volunteer Coordinator at the Mental Health Association of Northwestern Pennsylvania in Erie, Pennsylvania highlights her work with the Recovery Education materials:

We followed the guidelines in The Leader’s Guide to set up our Recovery Training Program. The academic classroom approach provided an atmosphere of interactive learning and growing rather than previous group experiences. We have also used the recovery stories in The Experience of Recovery to build common ground, to learn we are not alone, to learn new ways of coping, and to offer a message of hope. The Recovery Workbook was useful to help people learn new and more effective coping skills. Some participants were able to have their medications reduced by their psychiatrists while others learned better communications skills that have helped them in their relationships. One person moved to a better living situation. Two people were able to begin part-time employment. Homework assignments every week centered on doing something every day to take care of one’s self and 15 minutes of journal writing. Both of these assignments focused on helping people take more control of their lives. Today the trainers are more aware of recovery in their own lives. They are enthusiastic and eager to begin Part 2 of our program. This involves four pairs of trainers each working with four people who have a mental illness.

Lori Ashcraft, Director of Recovery Education Center at Meta Services, Inc. in Phoenix Arizona reports:

We first started using The Recovery Workbook nearly two years ago as a tool to introduce recovery principals to participants in our programs. This effort was sponsored by a state grant for community education and information. We introduced The Recovery Workbook by training staff that worked in psychosocial programs. We held a full-day workshop with key providers, using the Workbook as the basis of the information we presented. We developed a PowerPoint presentation that included the approaches outlined in the Leader’s Guide and in The Recovery Workbook. The workshop was a great success and one of the outcomes was that a group consisting of ten to twelve professionals and consumers decided to personally work their own way through the workbook before they attempted to train others. This first group was initially facilitated by the consumers in the group, but as the process unfolded, each person took turns facilitating without regard to how they identified themselves. This group continued for about five months and had a lasting effect on the participants and on the people they provide services for.

The Recovery Workbook II: Connectedness

By LeRoy Spaniol, PhD, Richard Bellingham, EdD, Barry Cohen, PhD, and Susan Spaniol, EdD

(with The Leader’s Guide: The Recovery Workbook II and Powerpoint® Presentation—The Recovery Workbook II: Connectedness)

The Recovery Workbook II: Connectedness is the next step for leaders and students who have experience with the The Recovery Workbook: Practical Coping and Empowerment Strategies for People with Psychiatric Disability.

A resource for professionals, family members, and consumers/survivors, this workbook explores the relationship between connectedness and personal growth in the recovery process for people with psychiatric disability.

Four aspects of connectedness are addressed: connectedness with oneself, with others, with our environments, and with a larger meaning or purpose in life. Knowledge, skills, and values related to connectedness are presented.

The workbook can be used by consumer and/or professional leaders as part of a training workshop, course, or seminar or by self-help groups and individuals for self-study.

A Microsoft PowerPoint® presentation that supplements and reinforces teaching points from The Recovery Workbook II: Connectedness is available for purchase on CD.

For costs and ordering information related to The Recovery Workbook I: Practical Coping and Empowerment Strategies for People with Psychiatric Disabilities, The Leader’s Guide: The Recovery Workbook, The Experience of Recovery, The Recovery Workbook II: Connectedness, The Leader’s Guide: The Recovery Workbook II, and Powerpoint® Presentation—The Recovery Workbook II: Connectedness visit the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation’s extensive website at