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What is the Recovery Peer Support Model?

The Recovery Peer Support model focuses on developing personal goals and abilities to move forward towards better health, strength and community supports. The recovery journey is the process of gaining control over one’s life story and the direction you want that life story to go. The more awareness you have of what is happening to you and your loved ones, the better equipped you are to make the choices that will lead to recovery. This awareness can be fine tuned and fostered with the assistance of Peer Support work.


The beliefs that can arise about ourselves after a diagnosis can help or hinder our recovery journey. If we think we are not capable then we won’t even try. If we are told we are too fragile then we will be afraid to break. If we are told “you got this” then we find the strength to move forward. It is important to be aware that mental illness does not take away a person’s ability to learn and grow. The challenge may be greater but there is no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone.


Practicing tolerance is key as we continue on our journey. According to the dictionary, tolerance is:

“…a fair, objective and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc. differ from one’s own.” (

In recovery, we see tolerance as a gift of openness to others and permission to fully be ourselves. It is essential to meet people where they are at, not where we want them to be.

Recovery-Oriented Focus:

Recovery-oriented focus lies at the heart of the Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada released in 2012.

In the words of the strategy: an orientation towards recovery is helping to bring about important changes in the mental health systems of many countries. Here in Canada, recovery has strong roots in the advocacy efforts of people with lived experience and in the psychosocial rehabilitation field…Recovery and well-being form the base of this strategy and are now embraced by most provincial and territorial mental health policies.

The Six Dimensions of Recovery-Oriented Practice:

Dimension 1: Creating a culture and language of hope, recovery is possible for everyone

Dimension 2: Recovery acknowledges the individual nature of each person’s journey of wellness and each person’s right to find their own way to living a life of value and purpose in the community of their choice.

Dimension 3: Understanding people within the context of their lives.

Dimension 4: Responding to the diverse needs of everyone living in recovery-oriented practice is grounded in principles that encourage and enable respect for diversity and that are consistent with culturally responsive, safe and competent practices.

Dimension 5: Working with First Nations, Inuit and Metis there is common ground between recovery principles and sharing Indigenous understandings of wellness that provides a rich opportunity for learning and for strengthening mental health policy and practice.

Dimension 6: Recovery is a journey not only for people living with mental illness and their families but for everyone involved in providing support and service. Recovery is about transforming services and systems to achieve a fully integrated recovery-oriented mental health system.

Accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what will be.

Sonica Ricotti

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