Your browser does not support JavaScript!
RTP Weekly Highlight Header

May 17, 2012 Volume 3, Issue 18
Please share the Recovery to Practice (RTP) Weekly Highlights with your
colleagues, clients, friends, and family!

To access RTP's Weekly Highlights, quarterly e-newsletters, Webinar recordings,
and PowerPoint presentations,
please visit

Call for Papers

RTP is calling for personal and practitioner articles that illustrate the principles and potential of recovery. Whether they describe a battle with depression, a new community support group, a recovery-focused training program, or simply a lived experience of recovery, your stories deeply touch our readers and continue to make a difference to everyone who supports the RTP effort.

To submit an article or recovery resource, please contact Cheryl Tutt, MSW, at 877.584.8535, or email

Living in Recovery
by Jackie West, LMHC, LADAC, CTRS
After 8 years in the substance abuse treatment field, I transitioned into community mental health. My exposure to mental health treatment while I was in college had been in a "white State hospital just beyond the borders of town" kind of place. Frontal lobotomies, electroshock therapy, and institutional care were what I considered the norm for mental health treatment.

I was offered the opportunity to work in a community mental health center, and became a group facilitator for a psychosocial rehabilitation program. The medications were somewhat new, like Clozaril. And "deinstitutionalization" was already in full swing. I was well-versed in the concept of recovery as it related to sobriety. To me it seemed like a natural thing that a person with mental illness could achieve recovery. I incorporated this concept into my training. In a class called Recovery Skills, for example, I developed a curriculum that would allow the group to define recovery for themselves. It included the identification of factors that could enhance recovery and awareness of behaviors or clues that contradicted recovery.

It was an exciting time. People were experiencing new levels of life satisfaction. They were leaving "day care" types of programs and experiencing personal fulfillment in employment, relationships, and recreational activities. They were keeping appointments, managing medications, and controlling their moods, all while learning to maintain their recovery. They were accessing different kinds of support and treatment appropriate for their individual needs, with the understanding that services could increase or decrease depending on their level of stability. Stability was only one element of their recovery.

I was especially excited about the way our ideas were embraced. I dreamt of providing new experiences for people, like taking a few clients to see the ocean. That simple idea became an incredible venture. Using the objectives of the community mental health program—to teach coping and living skills and provide training and support in vivo—we changed the way we saw our work. We created a plan to take a group of people with severely disabling mental illness—all in recovery—to the beach. The trip entailed months of planning and preparation, so our psychoeducational classes, Risk Taking, Money Management, Managing Moods, Recovery Skills, Socialization Skills, etc., all took on new meaning. Participants developed the itinerary and set individual and group goals. They actively worked on the grand plan, but also addressed the smaller skills and tasks that needed to come first. And they successfully met their goal. The group set out with two staff members on an 8-day trip from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the Gulf of Mexico. Every aspect was anticipated and planned for, from hotel stays and camping, to rest periods and crisis management. It was an incredible accomplishment, especially for those in the group who had once seen their life goals extinguished.

What followed was a flood of interest in experiences and adventures that were so much more than instructor-taught lessons in recovery. These were people with mental illness living in recovery and infusing recovery into their own lived experiences. Recovery, after all, is about living and living fully.

Jackie West is the Clinical Director of the New Mexico Department of Health–Turquoise Lodge Hospital.

How Offensive Is the Word 'Lunatic'?
Two U.S. senators have proposed to remove the word "lunatic" from Federal laws. The Latin-derived word originated in the late 13th century, meaning "affected with periodic insanity, dependent on the changes of the moon." Lunatic fringe was coined by Theodore Roosevelt in his 1913 autobiography:

"Then, among the wise and high-minded people who in self-respecting and genuine fashion strive earnestly for peace, there are foolish fanatics always to be found in such a movement and always discrediting it—the men who form the lunatic fringe in all reform movements."

Although "lunatic" developed an increasingly negative connotation over the years, it was used again and again in U.S. law.

Last month, Senators Michael Dean Crapo and Kent Conrad proposed the 21st Century Language Act, a bill that (if passed) would eliminate the word from laws and public discourse. The proposition is the latest in a series of national and international efforts to remove antiquated and offensive language for mental illness from the U.S. code.

Mental health advocates have called the move a small step toward eradicating the stigma of mental illness, following on the heels of Congress's Public Law 111–256 to replace the term "mental retardation" with "intellectual disabilities" in Federal law.

Outdated expressions and terms for mental illness are going by the wayside as people-first language gains more and more credibility. As a guiding principle, people-first language avoids perceived and unintentional dehumanization when discussing people with disabilities. It emphasizes the person, not the condition, by highlighting abilities instead of limitations.

Read the article.

Project GREAT Educates Clinicians, Empowers Patients
Project GREAT is transforming the nature of patient care. Not only are consumers becoming more involved in their treatment, but providers are changing the way they think about treatment in general.

Recovery-oriented care emerged in the late 1980s. A novel concept, it focused on promoting individuals' ability to cope with mental illness, achieve a higher quality of life, and recover meaningful roles in the community. But Project GREAT is among the first initiatives to attempt a change in both clinical services and educational curricula. Conceived by Peter F. Buckley, dean of the medical college at Georgia Health Sciences University, the project comprises an educational/curriculum development component as well as a treatment component.

With respect to provider education, the team has developed a curriculum workshop with role plays, live and video presentations, and interactive discussions created and presented by providers and patients working together. "Psychiatrists and psychologists teach alongside Certified Peer Specialists—individuals who have experienced the disabling symptoms of severe mental illness and gained control over their lives," said the program's faculty leader, Alex Mabe, Ph.D., in Clinical Psychiatry News.

Through multimedia presentations, participants get a better understanding of the recovery model and learn to practice concepts that emphasize self-directed treatment, strengths, and hope.

"Conventional psychiatry has tended to focus exclusively on diagnosis and symptom treatment, without a consideration of well-being and overall quality of life," said Dr. Mabe. "Through Project GREAT, our goal is to empower patients to gain some measure of control over their lives and to have meaningful goals."

Treating Depression in Primary Care Webinar
Clinical depression strikes 21 million American children and adults each year. The common condition is often linked with chronic illnesses, pain, and neurological disorders, and accounts for 1 in 5 visits to primary care centers.

This Webinar will discuss the prevalence of depression as well as screening tools and interventions health care providers can use to treat patients in primary care settings. Research has suggested that such settings, which incorporate screening, treatment, and symptom monitoring, are likely to improve patient care.

The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury hosts monthly Webinars to provide information and facilitate discussion on psychological health and traumatic brain injury. Webinars are open to the public and many provide continuing education units and continuing medical education credits.

May 24, 2012

1–2:30 p.m. ET

Click here to register.

The RTP Resource Center Wants to Hear From
Recovery-Oriented Practitioners!
We invite practitioners to submit personal stories that describe how they became involved in
recovery-oriented work and how it has changed the way they practice.
The RTP Resource Center Wants to Hear From You, Too!
We invite you to submit personal stories that describe recovery experiences. To submit stories or other recovery resources, please contact Cheryl Tutt, MSW, at 877.584.8535, or email All stories are reviewed by Carrie Nathans, RTP Editor.

We welcome your views, comments, suggestions, and inquiries.
For more information on this topic or any other recovery topic,
please contact the RTP Resource Center at
877.584.8535, or email

The views, opinions, and content of this Weekly Highlight are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect
the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.