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Stages of Recovery

Mental Health recovery is a journey of growth and change, a unique path for each person, progressing through five stages.

Stage 1 - Distress. 

Journeys often start with a sense of chaos and dependency. Sometimes a crisis triggers them, and we begin to feel a sense of denial, confusion, hopelessness, and withdrawal. We may feel that we’ve lost our self-identity. 

Stage 2 - Awareness. 

In this stage, we begin to recognize the negative aspects of our current experience and think, "there must be a better way". This is a perceptual turning point where we have a willingness to look at the causes of our distress so we can find solutions. 


Here we accept responsibility identifying and working thought issues. This work often gives us a renewed sense of self-worth and self-control. We coalesce our energy and start to find trust or hope that we can succeed.


It is also a time to willingly seek and accept help from others; a time to realize that joining with others is better path than isolation. 3 perspectives are helpful in this stage:

  • Accept that change is needed.

  • Trust that you can change. See recovery not only as possible, but probable. This isn’t wishful thinking, but realism grounded in claiming our inner strength.

  • Commit to the work ahead. This requires self-determination. This is your path, but, you needn't “go it alone.” Recovery is usually a very collaborative venture.


Stage 3 - Preparation. 

In this stage we set goals, learn about recovery options and treatments, and become willing to experiment with different recovery techniques. We also need to connect with people who can help. 


Stage 4 - Rebuilding. 

This is the stage of doing where we try various options, see what works for us, adjust and move forward. It is a time for patience and effort. We will face setbacks as we walk our path, but with every step forward we find increased hope and confidence.


Stage 5 - Maintenance. 

This is the final stage of recovery, when we’ve reached a stable state of improved well-being. We are happier and are more in control of our life. Here we work to secure the progress we've made. Even if some issues remain, we know we can lead a rich life. We can respond to setbacks, and we can maintain a positive attitude about our future. 

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