Aim Mental health services seek opportunities to sustain recovery outcomes beyond service involvement. This study aimed to examine social workers’ (also called mental health clinicians) attitudes towards, expectations of, assumptions about, and insights into, initiating and sustaining recovery.
Method Qualitative interviews and researcher reflections, within a grounded theory methodology, were used.
Findings Participants use interactional styles that nurture authentic relationships with people living with mental illness to support recovery. Their experience highlights the importance of strengths-based frameworks and collaboration for helping clients to develop their identity as a multi-layered self beyond living with a mental illness. Participants invest time and resources in understanding clients’ personal and interpersonal contexts to personalise recovery, and highlight authentic relating, and practitioners’ use of self, as important in supporting recovery processes.
Conclusion Findings suggest that recovery outcomes are sustainable beyond service involvement, when practitioners engage with people living with a mental illness in an evolving process of getting to know their solid and meaningful identity.