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Psychiatric Recovery and Peer-Led Services: A Program Evaluation Of Service Provider Individualized Recovery Intensive Training (Spirit)

10 December 2007


In the last decade, researchers and clinicians have begun to explore how to encourage recovery in individuals diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities. For people with psychiatric disabilities, the recovery process does not mean a return to premorbid functioning, but rather includes the need for individuals to regain their identity as full human being (Deegan, 1996). Recovery requires being identified as someone with a psychiatric disability, including, but not limited to: social isolation, poverty, unemployment, rejection from society, lack of purpose, and loss of control over his or her life (Davidson, O'Connell, Tondora, et al., 2005; Davidson, 2003; Deegan, 1996). While there is vast research on treating various psychiatric disabilities by mental health professionals, there is evidence about the effectiveness of peer-led services (Consmner-Operated Service Program, 2004) .. Empowerment Initiatives, Inc. (EI) is a nonprofit organization located in Portland, Oregon. · Empowerment Initiatives' programs are peer-led services for people diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities, founded on the principles of self-determination. One of the major components of Empowerment Initiatives is the Service Provider Individualized Recovery Intensive Training (SPIRIT) program. The SPIRIT intervention, which is the focus of this study, is a lO-week intensive program for individuals with psychiatric disabilities who desire to learn new skills and explore vocational opportunities. Providers at Empowerment Initiatives argue that SPIRIT facilitates mental health recovery and increases quality of life. Previously, there were no empirical data to support or negate the benefits of this particular program. A group of individuals assigned to SPIRIT intervention (n=6) was contrasted with ii a group of individuals assigned to a Wait List control condition (n=6), at both baseline (Tl) and post-treatment (T2). Effectiveness of the SPIRIT intervention was evaluated with regards to mental health recovery and quality of life. The SPIRIT group demonstrated statistically significant improvements in general life satisfaction and social contact. Significant results would likely be found for mental health recovery if a larger sample size was utilized. As a result, further research of peer-led services is warranted and necessary to expand and improve therapeutic resources for individuals with psychiatric disabilities.


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