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Enhancing recovery orientation within mental health services: expanding the utility of values

Virginia C Williams (School of Psychology, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia)
Frank P. Deane (School of Psychology, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia)
Lindsay G Oades (Centre for Positive Psychology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)
Trevor P Crowe (School of Psychology, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia)
Joseph Ciarrochi (Institute of Positive Psychology and Education, Australian Catholic University, Sydney, Australia)
Retta Andresen (Illawarra Institute for Mental Health, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 14 March 2016




The purpose of this paper is to review the role of values within contemporary mental health recovery services, outlining the rationale and approach for a specific values-focused staff intervention to promote autonomously motivated uptake of recovery-oriented practices.


Recent advances in understanding of the enduring gap between ideological and applied acceptance of personal recovery within mental health services are outlined, with particular focus on the limited utility of training programmes as a means to promoting implementation. Frequently, mental health service organisations have adopted recovery policies in a primarily “top-down” fashion standing in contrast to the high autonomy approaches espoused for service users. Drawing from the extensive research related to Self-Determination Theory (SDT), a complementary focus on “bottom-up” approaches that enable service-delivery staff to develop a sense of autonomy for changed work practices in order to increase implementation is indicated.


Application of values-focused interventions for mental health recovery staff parallel to the approaches acknowledged as effective for service participants are likely to be effective in promoting implementation of newly trained recovery-oriented practices.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is conceptual in nature and therefore reflects the priorities and views of the authors but the paper draws together well-established literature to develop a novel approach to a highly relevant issue.

Practical implications

Training transfer and implementation of evidence-based practice are issues with broad relevance and the explication of additional methods to promote employee uptake of new practices is a key priority for organisations and policy makers.

Social implications

Significant social implications include furthering the discussion and insight to the development of effective delivery of mental health services to individuals accessing service.


A novel aspect of this paper is the provision of a theoretical rationale for the application of SDT as a framework for understanding the continuing challenge of recovery operationalisation, which despite the conceptual good-fit, currently stands as an association not well exploited. Moreover, this paper proposes values-clarification and coaching as a specific and reproducible approach to enhancing recovery-oriented service provision.



Williams, V.C., Deane, F.P., Oades, L.G., Crowe, T.P., Ciarrochi, J. and Andresen, R. (2016), "Enhancing recovery orientation within mental health services: expanding the utility of values", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 23-32.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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