Vintage Article: The Family Recovery Process

When mental illness strikes, the result can be devastating not only for the loved one but also the family. Just as the loved one must engage in a process of recovery, so also must family members. In 1994, two leaders of psychiatric rehabilitation addressed this important subject in a timeless article entitled “The Family Recovery Process” in the now discontinued Journal of the California Alliance of the Mentally Ill. The article describes six general characteristics of family recovery and suggests four stages of the family recovery experience. All families in the maelstrom of mental illness can benefit from this helpful analysis. Excerpt:

Recovery is a process of self discovery, self renewal, and transformation. All people experience recovery at various times in their lives. The more threatening the particular event, the more it shakes the foundation of who we are and how we experience our lives. These powerful events break personal connections we took for granted and shatter the expectations, dreams and fantasies for which we had hoped. Clearly these are processes which involve profound adjustments in our lives and more intensive periods of recovery. Recovery is painful and difficult for all family members. Yet the outcome of recovery can be the emergence of a new sense of self which is more vital and connected to who we really are, to others, and to a greater sense of meaning and purpose in life.

Read the entire article here. See all of PsychOdyssey’s recommended articles here.


Spaniol, L., & Zipple, A. M. (1994). The Family Recovery Process. Journal of California Alliance for the Mentally Ill, 5(2), 57-59.

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