The most widely used definition of personal recovery is from William Anthony, director of the Boston Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation (1993):

"... a deeply personal, unique process of changing one's attitudes, values, feelings, goals, skills, and/or roles. It is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life even within the limitations caused by the illness. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one's life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effects of mental illness."

Recovery is a lifelong journey, not a destination. Recovery is a process, not a cure. You can't cure your mental illness any more than you can cure diabetes or other lifelong disease. But you can regain control of your life.

Recovery emphasizes that, while you may not have control over your symptoms, you can have control over your life. Recovery is not about "getting rid" of your problems. It is about seeing beyond your mental health problems. Recovery builds on your abilities, interests and dreams.


Recovery is indeed possible. You can take control of your disease. You can create a plan of action in case you begin to lose control of your disease. You can learn to communicate with support groups (family, friends, co-workers and health care providers) and find the kind of help you need to regain control.


Having a sense of hope is the foundation for ongoing recovery from mental illness. Even the smallest belief that you can get better, as others have, can fuel your recovery process.

Early in your recovery process, a treatment provider, friend and/or family member can feel hope for you. At some point, however, you need to develop and feel your own sense of hope.


Recovery is not managing illness It's discovering wellness

Recovery is not fixing what's broken

It's finding wholeness, meaning, and purpose

A love for life

Recovery is a journey

A reconnection to self, others, nature, and Spirit

A willingness to forgive, openness toward reconciliation

A search for peace ...

Duane Sherry


Research has found that important factors on the road to your recovery include:

  • Good relationships
  • Financial security
  • Satisfying work
  • Personal growth
  • The right living environment
  • Developing your own cultural or spiritual perspectives
  • Developing the ability to handle problems in the future

People have also listed other factors that helped them, including:

  • Being believed in
  • Being listened to and understood
  • Having someone explain problems or experiences
  • Having others temporarily handle your responsibilities during periods of crisis

In addition, if you are supporting someone during their recovery process, it is important that you encourage them to develop their skills and support them to achieve their goals.