The following information will provide you with a good overview of the self-help recovery education program called Pathways to Recovery. It will explain:

• What is Pathways to Recovery?

• How the Pathways to Recovery Workbook came into being along with a quick review of the contents and research being done on Pathways?
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• What is the evidence-base for the Strengths Approach?

• Who uses Pathways?

• Overall goals of a 12 week Pathways to Recovery group series

• A link to more details on both the Workbook and the Facilitator’s Guide

• Praise for Pathways to Recovery from Patricia Deegan, well-known US recovery activist

• A few helpful websites to explore more about a Strengths-Based Approach

• Upcoming Pathways to Recovery Facilitator Training Workshop being offered by the Culture of Recovery Project

Background to Pathways to Recovery – Workbook and Group Facilitation

We believe that the Pathways to Recovery program is a valuable tool for people who have been labeled with mental health challenges who are thinking about what recovery would look like, and what it means to be on the journey of recovery. Pathways groups offer a self-directed way of transforming experiences as a consumer/survivor, mental patient or mental health service system user and using those experiences to achieve recovery. Our goal in using this program is to provide a supportive culture for people to explore their own recovery in a self-directed and self-controlled way, but done in group so that the experience can involve mutual support and building relationships that support and sustain recovery. Our hope is that people who participate in this program, and incorporate its work into their own journeys of healing, will one day receive most of their life’s supports and resources outside of the mental health system.Lighthouse

Pathways to Recovery is based on mutual aid and is best run by consumer/survivors on their recovery journey who have taken the Pathways course themselves. The Culture of Recovery Project knows that the best way to provide a culture that supports recovery is to provide space and resources for peers to do their own recovery work, and become champions of recovery to both the mental health system and to others with similar lived experiences. It is for this reason that we offer a facilitator training course in Pathways and strengths-based work as part of our project.

What is Pathways to Recovery?

Pathways to Recovery is a tool to help people move forward in mental health recovery. It is an extensive self-help workbook. The workbook orients people to recovery, helps them to identify their personal strengths and dreams, and refocus on reclaiming positive sources of identity and a life beyond being a person with a psychiatric disability or a full-time consumer of mental health services. It helps people think about and plan how to live a full life, despite their psychiatric history or problems.

How was the Workbook created?

Staff of the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare Office of Mental Health Research and Training (KU) created the book in 2002, working alongside an advisory group of peer providers, directors of consumer-run organizations and progressive mental health providers. This group worked for about 18 months on the project – drafting, designing and illustrating the manual. The lead author of Pathways to Recovery is Priscilla Ridgway, who was a Ph.D. student at KU and Coordinator of the statewide Recovery Paradigm Project for the Kansas Department of Mental Health at that time. Ridgway now works for the Program for Recovery and Community Health at Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut.

What is the content of the Workbook?

The workbook uses the metaphor of a journey to introduce and explore mental health recovery. It helps people look at their personal, interpersonal and cultural strengths, identify interests or dreams across several domains of life, and set goals. A number of detours on the recovery journey, such as self-stigma and the impact of discrimination are addressed. Using the book, people set their recovery mission and develop a personal recovery plan with doable objectives. The workbook is full of short self-assessments, positive quotations and short personal accounts of recovery written by Kansans in recovery. A series of simple self-help strategies, such as affirmations, are taught to supercharge the journey. The final section helps people tell their personal story of recovery. The main content of the book was adapted from the Strengths Approach.

What is the evidence base for the Strengths Approach?

The Strengths Approach was the subject of more than 10 formal research studies. It is considered an evidence-based practice because it has been found to promote positive outcomes for people with psychiatric disabilities. The Strengths Approach has been proven to keep people in the community and helps them meet their goals.

Who uses Pathways to Recovery?

The Pathways to Recovery workbook is in its 4th printing. It was piloted in Kansas, and has been used by thousands of people in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, with smaller numbers in Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Israel, South Africa, Northern Ireland, and many other countries.
Many mental health programs and rehabilitation counselors use Pathways; many self-help organizations also use it, and some have made it a central component of their program. For example, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance has taught Pathways to chapter leaders, the Veterans Administration uses Pathways as part of its Vet-to-Vet , a self-help program, and NAMI of Chicago has created a group using Pathways that is taught by consumer providers. In one state, WRAP facilitators use it by alternating one week of WRAP and one week of Pathways groups. Pathways is also used by some dual diagnosis or concurrent disorder programs. Many individuals use the workbook on their own. In Ontario Pathways is introduced to social workers in educational training and is used in a program for family recovery education and support.

Is research being done on Pathways to Recovery?

Informal evaluations of Pathways have been very positive. People like the groups based on Pathways and find it helpful. Formal evaluations are now being conducted in several sites. The Veterans Administration is developing a 36-site evaluation of its Vet-to-Vet program. Carla Green, a researcher in Oregon has conducted 3 random assignment studies in Oregon, at a homeless ness program, a mental health center, and with a Kaiser Permanente health Plan group. Findings favored the Pathways group members who had significant improvements in mental health.

Contact for general information and requests: Lori Davidson,
(785) 864-1053 OR for sales & shipping information Joanna McCloud, (785) 856-2880


Overall Goals
Pathways to Recovery Group Series

1. Explore recovering our Wellness – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually

2. Mental Health Recovery Education

  • to learn about the key concepts of recovery and the message that people can and do recover/heal from extreme mental health distress and crisis situations
  • Hope
  • Education
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Self-Advocacy
  • Support

3. Uncover and Explore personal strengths and resilience

4. Learn to set short & long-term goals – to create a vision for your life

  • to help you develop self-guidance, self-direction and self-motivation to gradually find the kind of meaningful, interesting and full life that you want.

5. Provide an opportunity for Peer Support

  • to get personal support from other peers
  • to give/share – meet others and learn to share & give support to each other

Pat Deegan on Pathways to Recovery:

I love this workbook! Pathways to Recovery (A Strengths Recovery Self-Help Workbook) uses the metaphor of a journey to take the reader through a series of exercises. With these exercises, the reader will identify and use personal strengths for engaging in the recovery process. Getting into gear, motivation as fuel for the journey, recharging batteries along the
way, strategies for tune-ups and rest stops all contribute to the metaphor of the journey and reinforce the idea that recovery is about changing our lives, not just our biochemistry. Along the way, in the margins of the text, are inspiring quotes from consumers, psychiatric survivors and sages. These quotes remind us that recovery, at its core, is about human growth, resilience and triumph over adversity. 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 is an important new resource for consumers and psychiatric survivors. It is also a testament to the power of self-help and, as such, will contribute to move the field of mental health towards becoming recovery oriented. I highly recommend it!

Patricia E. Deegan, Ph.D.

Websites – Exploring Strengths


– Kansas School of Social Welfare, strengths perspective

– Office of Mental Health Research & Training

VIA Institute on Character

Using Signature Strengths in New Ways

Upcoming Pathways to Recovery Facilitator Training