In response to the very medical nature of treatment plans, the mental health consumer movement has advocated for a more user friendly and person-centered style of treatment plan. These are often homegrown documents, written in plain language that speaks directly to the person working on her own recovery. Nationwide, a number of mental health organizations and state agencies are attempting to integrate, or have already implemented, various recovery/wellness plans. The actual plans may be a part of a much larger shift in treatment approach and philosophy.
There are many similarities between treatment plans and recovery plans; both have explicit short and long-term goals, specific interventions to get there, etc. A couple of key differences are that in recovery plans, the goal is whatever the person says it is, get a job, find a wife, become president. There is no attempt to mold the person’s stated goal into what professionals might consider appropriate or even realistic. Another difference is that recovery plans focus on the individual’s strengths, whereas treatment plans, because they must document ongoing “medical necessity” for billable services, are written from a medical or illness-based approach.
Recovery/wellness plans are ideal for people to do themselves, or with the assistance of a friend, peer, family member, or someone on their treatment team. Treatment plans are mostly written by the professional or paraprofessional and then reviewed and/or signed off by the individual in treatment.
In general, recovery/wellness plans serve to empower the individual and recognize her own expertise, after all, she’s the one living with the particular symptoms, medications, etc. Recovery/wellness plans help people identify strategies and techniques that will improve their overall sense of well-being and move them in the direction of their hopes, dreams and aspirations.