The Wisconsin Days – Part Two

Shortly after the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal article was published (in which I first used the word Procovery), I was asked to give a keynote speech and lead a workshop on the concept of Procovery at the NYAPRS annual conference in New York. As I previously mentioned, there was no Procovery concept. It was simply a word created out of necessity, to assist in conveying a much larger point. But, I was intrigued by the idea of a broader scope and put some thought into whether or not a concept, based on a word I made up, was even possible. I ended up investing a large amount of time into the development of an initial overview of a concept that aligned with the word, and was surprised by how big it was becoming. It was like opening a door to a room no one knew existed and then no one is sure how it was missed for so long.

After the conference, I had the privilege of being invited to join the Wisconsin Blue Ribbon Commission on Mental Health and was subsequently asked by Sinikka McCabe (now Santala), the Director of the Bureau of Mental Health at the time, to write an article on the Concept of Recovery for the Final Report of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Mental Health. Below are a couple of excerpts from that Final Report from April 1997.


3. The focus of a recovery-oriented mental health system makes financial and therapeutic sense

How can we possibly afford to offer the resources necessary for individuals with a chronic illness to recover? In truth, at a time when cost control is critical, how can we not? Recovery is an everybody wins scenario. In a recovery-oriented system, mental health consumers rebuild meaningful lives while decreasing their dependence on the system. From both a therapeutic standpoint as well as an economic standpoint there should be little confusion in this regard. Rather than creating long term users of a system that fosters dependence, individuals will receive services that will enable them to recover and decrease their dependence on the system.


5. Summary

Recovery must not be used as a buzz word for cutting critical services. Such cutting will only increase the long term usage and and costs of the mental health system. Rather, it must be recognized that (1) as with chronic physical health issues, treatment requires the availability of an effective complement of “medical” and “rehabilitative” services and (2) all services must be delivered in a new manner with a focus on the basic principles of recovery.

In essence, the elements critical to bringing about recovery on a large scale are not costly or complex. Teilhard de Chardin said, “The focus is not to do remarkable things but to do ordinary things with the conviction of their immense importance. ” Mental health consumers want what everybody else wants. They want a home and loved ones, and to continue to grow as they age. They want their lives to have meaning. They do not want to die, never having lived.

A recovery-oriented mental health system moves beyond the focus of surviving and develops the focus on thriving. A mental health system must adopt a recovery-oriented delivery of services. It cannot afford to do otherwise, therapeutically, economically or societally.

As a reminder, these pieces of writing are from twenty-one years ago, yet still apply today.

Check back for the continued overview* of the evolution of Procovery. Next up, The Wisconsin Days – Part Three!


Until then,


*This blog series is quite a brief overview, with much left out for consideration of the reader’s time and patience.

The Wisconsin Days

To rewind a bit, it was the year 1996 and we were living and working in Wisconsin. My (late) husband, Randy Stratt, and I founded an all volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Health Action Network, which was dedicated to informing, empowering and inspiring individuals to become more involved in their health care. By providing community forums, surveying people across the state, holding town hall meetings, providing educational workshops, publishing a newsletter and spending countless hours (which turned to weeks and then to months and beyond) advocating for people to ask questions, seek second (and third and fourth) opinions and place real focus on choices regarding medications and treatment, we diligently sought to inform, empower and inspire people to become more involved in their health care, and to become active participants rather than passive recipients.

Health Action Network’s work wasn’t specific to mental health care – that integration and focus would come later. At the time, though, I was writing an article for Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal and struggling to find a word that conveyed what I was attempting to address in the article. Frankly, I was stumped. Nothing worked or even really meant what I needed a word to mean. It was an incredibly strange place to be as a writer, needing a word that didn’t exist yet. Procovery came to me in a brainstorming session and I finally settled on it, not feeling that I had many other options. Procovery, a word that meant absolutely nothing to anyone as it wasn’t even a word at all, resonated with me enough to move forward, at least for the writing of the article. I thought it might end up being a space-filler, a stand-in, that would help me illustrate my point. It wasn’t anything beyond the word at the time, but what would come, the development of the concept and all that followed, were not something I could have fathomed.

Below is an excerpt from that article, What is Possible in Psychiatry: Five Psychiatric Steps That Mattered, published in the Spring 1996 edition of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal (Volume 19 Number 4), containing the first use of the word, Procovery, that would come to change the course of my life’s work.

As William Anthony (1993) describes, “Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purposes in one’s life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effects of mental illness.” It may be that the general meaning of the word recovery stands in the way of this powerful concept; perhaps a new word such as procovery might be adopted to refer to the recovery of a productive life regardless of the level of health attainable.


Thank you, all, for taking this look into the early days with me. Stay tuned for The Wisconsin Days – Part Two!


Until next time,


New Blog Series

Procovery Institute has been very quietly, and for the most part behind the scenes, testing, revising, updating and improving the Procovery program for over twenty years now – you could say we’ve been taking the slow and steady approach to program creation and implementation, but it honestly hasn’t always been steady.

Despite strong interest in the program from the very beginning, we have always been firmly committed to ensuring fidelity, above all, before we could offer the program to a far broader population. Toward this end, we have some exciting things planned this year but, first, we are going to offer a bird’s eye view of the last 20 years in this new series of blogs, taking you back to where it all started, how it all started and the ever-changing path that provided many challenges, many rewards and profound outcomes.

Please check back for our next blog, the first step inside our journey.

Until then,

Procovery Institute

Instructions for Living a Life

Instructions for living a life
Pay attention
Be astonished
Tell about it

 -Mary Oliver


Happy Friday, Procovery Community! We hope you live a lot of life this weekend!

Upcoming Opportunity – LA County

Happy Spring to our cherished Procovery community. We have an upcoming opportunity, specific to Los Angeles, which we very much look forward to sharing with you in the coming weeks!


It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Gathering Support at Exodus Wellness!

Kathleen Crowley, Executive Director, and Acasia Stratt, Director of Operations at Procovery Institute were honored to present our Gathering Support workshop to a packed room at Exodus Wellness on Vermont, last Thursday.  

Pollyanne Hornbeck entered our Art of Moving Forward workshop contest earlier this year and, along with Gail Sulser at San Pedro Mental Health and John Czernek at Long Beach Mental Health, won a workshop at her site. Pollyanne recruited widely for the workshop, and generously hosted guests not only from Exodus, but South Bay and Long Beach and other agencies in Los Angeles.

Gary Gougis, a licensed Procovery Circle Facilitator from South Bay Wellness Center, was a special guest. Gary facilitated the original Procovery Circle at Exodus more than 7 years ago (!!!) and worked with Procovery Institute to get Pollyanne licensed and authorized to facilitate the Procovery Circle on her own.

Here’s what Pollyanne and Gary shared with us after the workshop:

“Being a big Procovery fan, and running a Circle at my center for over 7 years, it was wonderful to be chosen to host a Procovery Workshop. The idea of having Kathleen Crowley run a workshop at our center was cause to celebrate! Our clients love the sage advice, the can do attitude of the book and the structure of the Procovery Circle. For the clients to meet the author of a book they are so familiar with was exciting but even more engaging is to learn firsthand stories of her life so that the author becomes a real person just like you or me. It was fun to plan the event and get other agencies on board — our turnout was great, and our community always fabulous. I felt supported and cherished at the event. To learn more about how Procovery came about was interesting and educational. Everyone should have an opportunity like this.”

-Pollyanne Hornbeck, Peer Development Coordinator

“I had such a wonderful experience at Procovery Institute’s Gathering Support workshop at Exodus. Procovery never fails me! To see the happiness and enthusiasm for Procovery, from so many consumers and family members and staff, just brings an overwhelming sense of joy to my heart. And to see Acasia and Kathleen so, so, so happy and enjoying what they do over and over and over again — Procovery really enriches everyone. Thank you guys for including me and inviting me to participate and please believe me, I left there with another sense of awe about the amazing POWER of Procovery.”

-Gary Gougis, Senior Community Worker

Gathering Support is one of dozens of workshops Procovery Institute provides. Gathering Support can be a hugely beneficial component of healing, but can also be profoundly complicated for many reasons. In the workshop, we discussed some of the challenges associated with support.

  • It can be hard to ask for support because the person might say no.
  • You might not want to accept support, because you want to do everything on your own. You don’t want to need anyone else.
  • You might not know HOW to ask for help.
  • You might not know WHO to ask for help.
  • You might not know WHAT to ask for. The healing process can be so overwhelming that identifying something someone can do can, in itself, be overwhelming.
  • You can be afraid you are asking too much.
  • You can be afraid you will burn out supporters.
  • You can assume that just because people love you, they should be able to both know and provide what you need. But people can not give you, what they do not have and/or what they do to know you need.
  • Sometimes the people we anticipate will support us in a time of need, don’t. And that can hurt and can be devastating. But at the same time, often completely unexpected people come forward to support us, and that is an incredibly beautiful surprise.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on support and how to gather it — feel free to comment!

The Gathering Support workshop was filled with many individuals, one of whom was Dr. Philip Valdez. Phil is the new Program Director at Exodus Wellness and he was able to take the time to join our workshop, participate and let us know his thoughts after the workshop.

“On August 25th, 2016 Exodus Recovery Inc. had the pleasure of a visit from the author of The Procovery of Procovery. I am the new Program Director at our Wellness Center here in South Central Los Angeles. It’s always a pleasure to have great presentations. One of our staff members, Pollyanne Hornbeck, has been facilitating a Procovery Circle ever since I’ve been here at the Wellness Center. It was a special delight to have this presentation at our site.

I was impressed by Kathleen Crowley and the personal story that she shared, so freely, with a room full of people. I was also impressed with the organization of the event. Kathleen and Acasia Stratt (Director of Operations at Procovery Institute) were very professional and they were quite timely; starting on time and ending on time. One of the things I heard is that there are only two Procovery Circles licensed to facilitate Procovery in Los Angeles. I believe a lot of people can benefit greatly from this book and the theory behind it. My hope as Program Director is that I can share this with other directors and have more and more Procovery licensed facilitators at all of our sites for Exodus.

The field of mental health has always been a great challenge. As a Doctor of Clinical Psychology, I’ve found that human beings still do not completely understand mental illness, even though it’s been around for a very long time. Anytime I see something new or different it warms my heart. We don’t have the answers. Anyone who says we do is fooling themselves or trying to fool someone else. It’s brave for someone like Kathleen Crowley to talk about herself and then to write a great book with great ideas in it like The Power of Procovery. I truly believe this program can save people’s lives and put them on a good track in life. Give it a read! Get licensed to facilitate these groups! Change people’s lives.”

Lastly, we wanted to take a moment to touch on something really close to our hearts. Our experience at Exodus touched us deeply. At Procovery Institute, we often seek to inspire all of you, to let you know that we appreciate you, encourage you to take a moment and remember why you do what you do, and to remember how you have the opportunity to change lives every single day... But, last Thursday at Exodus, it was all of you who did that for us. We could not be more appreciative for the experience and we wanted extend our gratitude and say thank you to all.

Until next time… and with profound appreciation. Always.

Procovery Institute

“Even if you could do it all by yourself, why would you want to?” 
– Lee Jones, MD

Uncovering Hope at Long Beach Mental Health Center!

As we posted last week, Procovery Institute announced, months ago, The Art of Moving Forward™ workshop contest. One applicant would receive a Procovery workshop of their choice, held at their site! When it came time for Procovery Institute to make the selection, we found some of the applications so compelling that we felt unable to select one winner… So we selected THREE!

Yesterday was the second workshop, this one held at Long Beach Mental Health Center. John Czernek, Senior Community Worker, submitted an application on behalf of LBMHC and was at the door, welcoming us the moment we walked in!

John selected Uncovering Hope as his workshop of choice. Uncovering Hope is one in an extensive series of Art of Moving Forward™ workshops available from Procovery Institute. Kathleen Crowley, co-founder of Procovery Institute and co-creator of the Procovery program, and Acasia Stratt, Director of Operations at Procovery Institute, facilitated the workshop and were so inspired.

It was an interactive experience which included participant sharing, group and individual exercises, Kathleen’s thoughts, along with fun snacks and prizes. So many participants shared changes they would like to make in their lives, what gives them hope AND what takes it away. In this workshop, we discussed protecting hope, which can so easily be trampled on, and we discussed the cycle of how hope leads to motivation, which in turn leads to action, which then leads to change. Change feeds hope, so the cycle can begin small and slow, but become a powerful force for creating the life we want.

Participants shared hopeful statements, and one in particular was reminiscent of one of our favorite quotes here at Procovery Institute:

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. — Leonard Cohen

After the workshop, John shared the following  —

Inspiring and my clients really enjoyed it. Looking forward to future workshops and trainings!

Stay tuned for news on upcoming Procovery opportunities!

Until next week, where we will be Gathering Support at Exodus Recovery…

Procovery Institute

Uncovering Hope at San Pedro Mental Health Center!

Months ago, Procovery Institute announced The Art of Moving Forward™ workshop contest. One applicant would receive a Procovery workshop of their choice, held at their site! When it came time for Procovery Institute to make the selection, we found some of the applications so compelling that we felt unable to select one winner… So we selected THREE!

This past Tuesday was the first workshop, this one held at San Pedro Mental Health Center. Gail Sulser, Consumer Advocate, submitted an application on behalf of SPMHC and was there to greet us. We felt welcomed and appreciated from the start and were offered help by many. We were incredibly inspired and touched by each participant, and were honored to be there.

Gail selected Uncovering Hope as her workshop of choice. Uncovering Hope is one in an extensive series of Art of Moving Forward™ workshops available from Procovery Institute. Kathleen Crowley, co-founder of Procovery Institute and co-creator of the Procovery program, and Acasia Stratt, Director of Operations at Procovery Institute, facilitated the workshop and we had a wonderful time! 

It was an interactive experience which included participant sharing, group and individual exercises, readings from The Power of Procovery book, Kathleen’s thoughts, along with fun snacks and prizes. All participation is voluntary with Procovery, but despite the voluntary aspect to the exercises and sharing, all attendees enthusiastically participated and shared and there was much thoughtful and inspiring conversation, as well as a distinct atmosphere of compassion.

Gail shared (below) so much hope and positivity after the workshop —

Much happiness was shared in the hope of feeling better, being better and starting anywhere in the art of moving forward! Our consumers enjoyed the workshop immensely and what I learned today was that not only do we want to grow hope but we also need to take action and protect hope. Hope is inside of all of us!

We look forward to next week at Long Beach Mental Health Center!

Until next time…

Procovery Institute

A warm smile and an outstretched hand were valued even above the offerings of modern science, but the latter were far more accessible than the former. I believe that nothing a hospital could provide in the way of technological marvels was as helpful as an atmosphere of compassion. — Norman Cousins

Elevator Pitch for Hope

Hope is the answer to the question “why?”
Why get out of bed in the morning?
Why work harder than you have ever worked only to feel worse than you even knew it was possible to feel?
Why take a medication that is likely to make you feel worse immediately, and only possibly help you feel better in the future?

In order to get up every day, put one foot in front of the other, and wade through the living hell that might be your reality right now, toward the not so visible light at the end of the tunnel, toward healing, there has to be some sense that things might somehow work out. There has to be hope.
He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how. — Friedrich Nietzsche

Until next time…


The ultimate measure of a man…

In recognition of Procovery Institute’s two upcoming Uncovering Hope workshops this Summer, at Long Beach Mental Health and San Pedro Mental Health, this is our first 2016 posting in an upcoming series of blogs to be written on the powerful topic of hope.

In this posting, and upcoming hope blogs, we may say some things that are counter-intuitive, or that even sound somewhat hopeless. But we urge you to stay with us for an important series on a profound topic. We have been studying hope for over three decades, and learned, firsthand, from people who were able to hold the hope for themselves, or for others, in the gravest of times. We have learned how they were able to maintain hope, how they used it as fuel, and what they did when they could hardly find it at all. 

We know that hope can be seen, sometimes, as wavy and fluffy, hard to define or measure, far from scientific.  It can be seen as a tool used to “sell” something – something someone might use as a smokescreen, a way to manipulate people, attract voters in a political setting, a way of ignoring the reality of the circumstances and/or current times. In essence, hope can be seen, and discounted, as merely seeking to offer what others want to hear, without the possibility of actually delivering the promise.

Hope can be confusing. Searching for hope can be painful. Opening yourself up to hope can feel overwhelming and terrifying. When facing serious circumstances, it can feel too risky, and too vulnerable to allow yourself to get your hopes up, again, because they may be dashed, again.  

When faced with illness, trauma, relationship and/or financial issues, and other things of this serious nature, we often find ourselves so busy worrying, strategizing and focusing on the squeaky wheel of the issue that hope isn’t given any weight, as hope, alone, cannot solve the issues we’re facing. We don’t have TIME for hope, we reason, as we need to be realistic and take care of business. 
To discount hope, though, is to discount a profoundly powerful tool. Hope is a profound support that can be accessed even in the darkest of times and utilized as fuel. Hope can drive action, fueling us to think bigger and to take action to achieve success.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

More to come…


Please contact us at with any questions, comments, suggestions, or comment here on the blog.