What Is Recovery-Focused Care?

The principles of recovery-oriented mental health practice 
The benefits of recovery-focused care
Further reading 

Most people living with a mental illness are only hospitalized after becoming acutely unwell and are subsequently in need of support to manage their illness. Contrastingly, the principles of a recovery-oriented approach encompass several principles that center on achieving personal, social, and emotional wellbeing, as defined by each individual, while living with or recovering from a mental health disorder.

Image Credit: tadamichi/Shutterstock

Image Credit: tadamichi/Shutterstock.com

These principles of a recovery-oriented approach assented on individuality; that is, inherent differences between each patient should be recognized and supported so that each individual can make their own informed choice and is listened to with dignity and respect.

The principles of recovery-oriented mental health practice

The uniqueness of the individual

In this regard, recovery is recognized as not necessarily concerning a cure but providing opportunities for choices so that the individual lives a meaningful, satisfying, and purposeful life. This principle also reflects that recovery outcomes are personal and unique for each individual and extend beyond exclusive health focus. There is heavy consideration of social inclusion and quality of life. Those designated to support the individual should recognize that the individual should be at the center of the care they receive.

Real choices

The choices made by the individual are empowered, as well as meaningfully outlined and creatively explored. Real choices support individuals in taking control and responsibility for their life and building on their strengths. Real choices balance the duty of care of the account provider alongside the support for an individual to shoulder positive risks and maximize the potential offered by new opportunities.

Partnership and communication

In the recovery-oriented approach, each individual is regarded as an expert in their own life and acknowledges that recovery involves multidisciplinary collaboration between the individual, their carers, and the wider healthcare team to develop an approach that makes sense to the individual.

Dignity and respect

Individuals are treated courteously, respectfully, and honestly; sensitivity and respect are afforded to each individual, particularly regarding their values, beliefs, and culture. Moreover, discrimination is challenged wherever it is perceived on the individual and community-wide level.

Evaluating recovery

There are several opportunities provided for continuous evaluation at several levels. Firstly at the level of individuals, so that they can track their progress. Secondly, services consider the individual care experiences and use them to improve consequent activities. Finally, the mental health system reports the key outcomes that indicate recovery. These outcomes may vary and can include employment, quality of life, education, housing, interpersonal relationships, and wider health and wellbeing.

The benefits of recovery-focused care

Recovery-focused care may assist healthcare practitioners in reducing the individual's potential for aggression as well as empower the individual to take responsibility for their wellbeing. It encompasses trauma-informed care, recognition of the individual's life experiences and the consequent impact on the individual, and clinical and personal recovery principles. Healthcare professionals, namely nurses, which practice recovery-focused care, actively and dynamically include the individual in all stages of decision-making and care planning.

Image Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

Image Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

This results in helping each individual to actualize potential strengths and effectively cope with challenges. Recovery-focused care also supports the individual in attaining a level of self-esteem and confidence, which is perpetual and carried into the future.


  • Lim E, Wynaden D, Heslop K. (2019) Changing practice using recovery-focused care in acute mental health settings to reduce aggression: A qualitative study. Int J Ment Health Nurs. doi: 10.1111/inm.12524.
  • Lim E, Wynaden D, Heslop K.(2017)  Recovery-focussed care: How it can be utilized to reduce aggression in the acute mental health setting. Int J Ment Health Nurs. doi: 10.1111/inm.12378.
  • McKenna B, Furness T, Dhital D, et al. (2014) Recovery-oriented care in acute inpatient mental health settings: an exploratory study. Issues Ment Health Nurse.doi: 10.3109/01612840.2014.890684.
  • McKenna B, Furness T, Dhital D, et al. (2014) Recovery-oriented care in a secure mental health setting: "striving for a good life". J Forensic Nurs. doi: 10.1097/JFN.0000000000000027.
  • Hungerford C, Fox C. (2014) Consumer's perceptions of Recovery-oriented mental health services: an Australian case-study analysis. Nurs Health Sci. doi: 10.1111/nhs.12088.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Aug 22, 2022

Hidaya Aliouche

Written by

Hidaya Aliouche

Hidaya is a science communications enthusiast who has recently graduated and is embarking on a career in the science and medical copywriting. She has a B.Sc. in Biochemistry from The University of Manchester. She is passionate about writing and is particularly interested in microbiology, immunology, and biochemistry.


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