As we begin to wind down 2011 and gear up for 2012, we thought we would take some time to revisit some of the feedback we have received over the last few years, as well as share with you some new feedback and some of the outcomes Procovery Circle Facilitators and participating agencies are experiencing. As such, over the next few weeks of December you will hear from some very powerful and inspiring individuals who have all dedicated their lives to making extraordinary things happen. Some are longtime Procovery Circle Facilitators experiencing profound outcomes with Procovery and some have seen what Procovery can do firsthand through personal experiences. We want their strong voices to be heard and therefore will be bringing them to you during the month of December.

This week we bring you a broad mix of individuals with profound lived experience and expertise:

  • Nancy Bollinger, Executive Director, Self Help Center, St. Louis, MO
  • Catherine Bond, Former Associate Director and Training Coordinator, Project Return Peer Support Network/Consultant, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, Los Angeles, CA
  • Angelica Garcia, Director of Center Programs, El Centrito de Apoyo/Senior Program Manager, Project Return Peer Support Network, Los Angeles, CA
  • Lisa Goin, Hope Center Director, NAMI SWMO, Springfield, MO
  • Gary Gougis, Community Support Worker, South Bay Wellness, Gardena, CA
  • Fred Lee, Community Integration Program Manager, Project Return Peer Support Network, Los Angeles, CA
  • Mickie McDowell, Certified Missouri Peer Specialist, Certified Recovery Educator, Springfield, MO
  • Keris Myrick, Executive Director, Project Return Peer Support Network, Los Angeles, CA
  • Susan Scott, Procovery Circle Facilitator, Ozark Medical Center, West Plains, MO

Read on below or click on the individual names to listen to the audio clip!

“Though I’ve worked in the consumer/mental health side of services for a decade now, it was not until I was involved with Procovery that I began to realize the effects of what we as consumers of mental health services can have on the systems. Those effects are just so profound. The Procovery Community Building Events helped me to realize that our voices are to be heard and respected. And as such, though it may have gotten me into trouble a time or two, I chose to stand up and have my voice heard with regard to the systems in place. Not only are these events community building but they are empowering. When the systems knock us down, we have a right to have our voices heard and stand back up. When our voices are ignored, we have a right to stand up and shout. We deserve representation to help to mold the system into a functional and compatible system that is well adjusted to our needs and sensitive to our dreams and aspirations of recovery. The Power of Procovery, each component of Procovery, the book, cards, music, people, it is all empowering. It is coming together as a community that has helped us to do more than ever expected.”

“I believe [Procovery] can play a very instrumental role. My perspective on this is that there’s a great value in Procovery offering things that family members and professionals can bring to the process. Because what I’ve learned from the early days in Los Angeles, is that when professionals have their own Procovery Circles, or are involved in Procovery Circles, their perspective on recovery helps them to understand how people like me can help heal themselves and can help one another heal. And it’s so enlightening for people who haven’t ever looked at that before. So I like the fact that she includes the family members and professionals and I also like the fact that the people that participate in Procovery Circles get better. And it’s as simple as that.”

“I would love to see the Department of Mental Health say, ‘We’re gonna fund it. That it’s a valuable tool and that it’s a wonderful model and that it can really work. This is something that leads people to greater empowerment, to greater wellness, to less shame. This is a wonderful way for people to heal and grow and we’re gonna fund the process of learning how to do Procovery Circles and help people learn how to become Procovery Circle Facilitators and go forth and spread the word!’”

“I would like to see [Procovery] boom. And I would definitely love to see it be used in every aspect of the mental health system. Whether it be the clients, the providers, people using it at work. The material is so strong and uplifting, I think anybody can use it. You don’t have to be a consumer or identify yourself as a consumer. It can apply to anyone.”

“Procovery offers me validation. It helps me to believe in myself and personal empowerment. It seems like I’m constantly quoting something out of the book or one of the cards because they ring so true for me. Four years ago I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and it was during this time that Procovery was introduced to me. It seemed that from the first time I opened the book it was written for me to aid me in that difficult time. I just felt like it was just for me. I took the book with me everywhere. I read it repeatedly taking it into my chemo treatments where I would be for four hours at a time. I read it the whole time I was recouping from surgery. It was just there for me the whole time and it just rings so true. And that’s when my first impact with Procovery really began.”

“The thing I enjoy, too, is the healing effect of it. It’s transformed into the community and to healthcare in particular because a lot of our members say that they haven’t been back to the emergency rooms, or to the hospitals. But they actually state that, ‘I haven’t had an emergency room visit in 2 years’ or ‘I haven’t since I’ve been coming to Procovery.’ And you know, that effect alone… right there. And you see, I can be a witness to that because I know they haven’t. On a weekly basis, the ones who come every two weeks instead of every week, their life is doing more. When you hear someone say, you know if we have 15 people in the room and one person says, ‘You know, I haven’t been back to the hospital,’ and then the hands start going up and, ‘And neither have I.’ , ‘And neither have I.’  That’s speaking to me in a very loud volume. It’s speaking to the effect that it has in a long term view. Especially with the cost of healthcare and everything and how this can directly impact the cost because of the way things are. When I look at that, I say, man that’s a real benefit of the bargain. They’re so confident about it. ‘Now I’ve got some stuff to work with. And the support, I know what to do now because I know where my support is.  And I know I can make a phone call, to maybe even a Procovery Circle member that I know, because we’ve engaged in a social thing. And I may not have to go rush back to the emergency room.’ And just being that, it’s care taking in a different sense. It’s self care at it’s best.”

“More than anything it has given the consumers and the participants because I have not only just consumers I have family members, who are supporting someone in the family, they come also. I’ve seen hope come alive where there was none. I’ve seen heads that were down that were uplifted. And it also leads to people participating in life again along with their family and their friends. And from my Procovery Circle, the Procovery Circle at South Bay, it has extended into our community and it’s been a platform for an active life for a lot of people who were very inactive. It’s just ongoing. Procovery is just growing and growing and growing. People keep feeling better. Doing better and restarting a new life instead of trying to go back to the old life.” 

“Well a powerful role… For one thing it can shorten the length of recovery because of the things you learn. You learn you’re not your diagnosis. You learn to focus forward. And it really emphasizes being person centered. The quotes really help you think, too. All that kind of blends into the Program. It kind of opens up your mind, the quotes,and the ideas and the book and the ideas of Procovery really open you up to the freedom of a life moving forward.  It helps you clarify where you’re at and where you want to go. It helps you expand on your dreams or even give dreams a birth… give them a place to start. Like it says in the literature, instead of looking backwards to recovery, you know, in my case, there’s nothing to look back to hardly except a lot of trauma and strife from a young age.  So some people might have had more of a life and there’s more to look back to but in my case and a lot of other people’s cases, troubles started early. So there’s really no ‘stable’ place to look back to. There was never a level where I was functioning in a happy manner. There were periods of time in my life, but there wasn’t a holistic time in my life. Procovery helped develop that again through the different aspects of life. It helped me think about what was I doing… it helped me get back to school. It helped me have fun. It helped me focus on work in a more conscious way. It just opened me up. It just really opened me up. So that’s the role that it can take in mental health transformation. It certainly transformed me. “

Mickie McDowell – Difference Between Procovery and Other Groups
Procovery is very different. Procovery is about wellness. For the most part the other groups that I’ve facilitated have all focused on illness. You walk in a lot of the groups that I’ve facilitated do a wellness scale. You know, when you do introductions, ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, how are you doing today?’  A lot of times you can walk in an 8 and you can leave a 4 because there’s so much negativity and everyone talks about the negative stuff in their life. Procovery is just the opposite. In Procovery we don’t use that scale. People come to Procovery when they don’t want to leave their house because they know that they’re going to leave Procovery feeling better. And they do. You know every time they come, they get something positive out of it and it’s so uplifting it’s amazing.

“Well definitely Procovery has a holistic approach, which I think health care reform is all about…. Is meeting people’s whole health needs. And I think it’s going to be really, really important that as people with lived experience of mental health issues, as peer providers, as peer program providers and developers we all have to be at this table of health care reform and integration of health and mental health. Because it feels to me as if a lot of the conversation is being led by sort of the primary care community and I’m not so sure sometimes that they understand or are there yet with the peer support and the peer programs and things like Procovery. I’d hate it to be an add-on. I’d rather those things be an inclusive from the very beginning. So, I definitely think that it [Procovery] fits within health care reform. It fits within the integration of health and mental health, but we all need to make sure that it gets there at the very beginning of these conversations rather than, ‘Oops! Let’s add it on later.’”

“I’m just such a cheerleader for Procovery because it works. It’s a practical system that works on a day to day basis for regular ordinary people that come to the circle. I see it work every day. I see people understanding things they didn’t understand before the circle started. And I’m one of these people who is kind of results oriented. I believe in things that actually give results. And that’s the thing I love so much about Procovery is, it works.”

We will bring you more words, more voices, more powerful messages over the course of the weeks of December 12th and 19th and Procovery Institute will then be closed for our annual internal program planning and development through Tuesday, January 17th, 2011.

If you’re already a member of this beautiful Procovery community, THANK YOU for your love, support, hard work, patience and dedication. If you’re new to the Procovery community – WELCOME!

In the following two weeks you will hear from staff Facilitators and agency administrators, so we hope you will stay tuned! We hope you’re having a blessed and joyous holiday season!

Until next time…
Procovery Institute