What is the Abraham Low Self-Helps Systems?

Introduction

Abraham Low Self-Help Systems (ALSHS) is a non-profit organisation formed from the merger of Recovery International and the Abraham Low Institute.

ALSHS facilitates the estimated 600 worldwide Recovery International meetings and all projects formerly run by the Abraham Low Institute including the Power to Change programme. The organisation is named after Abraham Low, founder of the mental health self-help organisation now known as Recovery International.

Brief History

Recovery, Inc., often referred to simply as Recovery, was officially formed 07 November 1937, by neuropsychiatrist Abraham Low in Chicago, Illinois. Low created the organisation to facilitate peer support self-help groups for former mental patients and later allowed for participation of those who had not been hospitalised, but with a desire to improve their mental health. During the organisation’s annual meeting in June 2007 it was announced that Recovery, Inc. would thereafter be known as Recovery International. As of 2008 there were over 600 weekly Recovery International meetings held throughout North America, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Israel and India.

The Abraham Low Institute was founded in 1989 to develop programmes, in addition to Recovery, based on Low’s self-help principles. The Institute awarded grants to further scholarly research on Low’s work, provided research resources for people interested in Low’s methods, and developed the Power to Change programme and The Relatives Project.

On 01 January 2008 Recovery International merged with The Abraham Low Institute and provisionally renamed the new organisation Recovery International / The Abraham Low Institute (RI/TALI). Celinda Jungheim, a community volunteer from Los Angeles, was elected as president of the Board of Directors. Abraham Low Self-Help Systems was incorporated on 01 January 2009, completing the merger of Recovery International and The Abraham Low Institute. Abraham Low Self-Help Systems is now the provider of Recovery International community, phone and online meetings and The Power to Change programme, which was a programme of The Abraham Low Institute.

The Relatives Project

The Relatives Project, found in 1993, provides support for family and friends of people who have mental and emotional problems. The Relatives Project teaches coping skills and stress management through meetings similar to those held in Recovery International groups, but using literature written by Abraham Low specifically for the families of his patients. Relatives are taught to maintain empathy and unconditional positive regard for their ill relative, while reframing their domestic environment to provide an empowering atmosphere for all members. The Relatives Project groups are open to adults and teenagers, and allow professionals to observe but only to participate if it is in support of a family member’s mental health. Mental health becomes a shared goal for a family, and all family members share in responsibility to achieve it.

Power to Change

Power to Change is a cognitive-behavioural peer-to-peer programme based on Low’s self-help principles. Power to Change primarily teaches at-risk students and ex-prisoners principles of Low’s Self-Help system in peer-to-peer groups. Power to Change groups generally consist of 8-12 members, meeting weekly, who learn the principles of the Low Self-Help System by describing their personal experience of disturbing events and commenting on each other’s experiences using a highly structured format.

Specifically, Power to Change consists of five components:

  • A peer-to-peer process intended to provide a safe environment for members to disclose their experiences to a supportive group,
  • A meeting structure intended to keep discussion on topic,
  • A four-part format to help members frame their experiences as useful examples, and
  • Group feedback utilising a set of tools (principles of Abraham Low’s therapeutic technique).

The four-part example consists of an objective description an event; a report of the feelings, sensations, thoughts, and impulses experienced in the members mind and body; how the member used the Power to Change tools to manage the experience; and a self-endorsement to remind the member of the progress made and to reward their effort. The Power to Change groups use much of the language suggested in the Recovery International programme, such as identifying “temper” and avoiding judgment of right and wrong.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has provided grants for Power to Change since 2003. The most recent grant was awarded in November 2008, and will provide funding until November 2010.

Chicago Public Schools

In 2007 Urban Networks Associates (UNA) conducted an evaluation of Power to Change as it was implemented in seventeen secondary and middle schools in the Chicago Public School system. In each school 12-24 group sessions were held and facilitated by either staff from the Abraham Low Institute or by a local facilitator trained by the Abraham Low Institute. Participating students showed significant improvement in prosocial behaviour as measured by pre-testing and post-testing of emotional intelligence, specifically increasing self-restraint and decreasing violent behaviours. Although statistically significant, the effect sizes of changes were low or medium.

UNA’s SEM evaluation of the Power to Change logic model, the required steps and conditions for the program to be effective, found it fit the data collected well. To improve the effectiveness of the program UNA recommended improving communication with and training of local facilitators, encouraging students to develop plans to apply programme tools outside of the group, updating the literature used to make it more age appropriate for the young students, adding activities to encourage confidentiality of what was said in group meetings and developing more interactive activities to teach programme concepts. UNA also suggested asking for a commitment from participating schools to guarantee facilities were always available and that students would not be prohibited from attending group sessions.

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Who was Abraham Low?

Introduction

Abraham Low (1891 to 1954) was an American neuropsychiatrist noted for his work in establishing self-help programmes for people with mental illness, and for his criticism of Freudian psychoanalysis.

Refer to Abraham Low Self-Help Systems (ALSHS).

Early Years

Low was born 28 February 1891, in Baranów Sandomierski, Poland.

Low attended grade school, high school and medical school in France from 1910 to 1918. He continued his medical education in Austria, serving in the Medical Corps of the Austrian Army. He graduated with a medical degree in 1919, after his military service, from the University of Vienna Medical School. After serving an internship in Vienna, Austria from 1919 to 1920, he immigrated to the United States, obtaining his US citizenship in 1927.

Career

From 1921 to 1925 he practiced medicine in both New York, New York and Chicago, Illinois. In 1925 he was appointed as an instructor of neurology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and became an associate professor of psychiatry. In 1931 Low was appointed assistant director and in 1940 became acting director of the university’s Neuropsychiatric Institute.

From 1931 to 1941 he supervised the Illinois State Hospitals. During this time he conducted demanding seminars with the staff and interviewed the most severe mental patients in the wards. In 1936, Low’s Studies in Infant Speech and Thought was published by the University of Illinois Press. Some sixty papers are by Low dealing variously with such topics as: Histopathology of brain and spinal cord, studies on speech disturbances (aphasias) in brain lesions, clinical testing of psychiatric and neurological conditions, studies in shock treatment, laboratory investigations of mental diseases; and several articles on group psychotherapy had been published in medical periodicals.

Death and Legacy

Low died in 1954 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. His contributions to the psychiatric and mental health communities are often not well known, but his work has and continues to assist numerous individuals in the area of mental health. The psychologist and founder of REBT, Albert Ellis, credits Low as a founder of cognitive behavioural therapy.

Recovery International

In 1937, Low founded Recovery, Inc. where he served as its medical director from 1937 to 1954. During this time he presented lectures to relatives of former patients on his work with these patients and the before and after scenarios. In 1941, Recovery Inc. became an independent organization. Low’s three volumes of The Technique of Self-help in Psychiatric Aftercare (including “Lectures to Relatives of Former Patients”) were published by Recovery, Inc. in 1943. Recovery’s main text, Mental Health Through Will-Training, was originally published in 1950. During the organisation’s annual meeting in June 2007, it was announced that Recovery, Inc. would thereafter be known as Recovery International.

This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Low >; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA.

What is Recovery International?

Introduction

Recovery International (formerly Recovery, Inc., often referred to simply as Recovery or RI) is a mental health self-help organisation founded in 1937 by neuropsychiatrist Abraham Low in Chicago, Illinois.

Recovery’s programme is based on self-control, self-confidence, and increasing one’s determination to act. Recovery deals with a range of people, all of whom have difficulty coping with everyday problems, whether or not they have a history of psychiatric hospitalisation. It is non-profit, secular, and although it uses methods devised by Low, most groups are currently led by experienced non-professionals.

Brief History

In 1937, Abraham Low, a neuropsychiatrist, was on the faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and participants in Recovery were limited to those who had been hospitalised in the Psychiatric Institute at the University. At that time, Recovery Inc. was an entity of the Neuropsychiatric Institute at the University of Illinois Research and Education Hospital. The original thirty-seven founding members had recovered their mental health after receiving insulin shock treatments at the Institute.

Low began the groups as part of an attempt to improve the patient’s care following discharge from his hospital. In the early years of the organisation he encouraged members to advocate for improvements in social policies regarding state mental health regulations. Following backlash from the medical community to these efforts, Low disbanded the group in 1941. His patients, however, asked to be trained to teach Recovery’s methods to others and in 1942 Low began to teach members to lead groups in their homes.

The organization separated from the Psychiatric Institute in 1942, operating out of private offices in Chicago. New membership at this time was drawn largely from patients in Low’s private psychiatry practice. During the first years following its separation Low remained in close contact with all Recovery groups and received regular reports from group leaders. As the membership and number of meetings grew, it made this level of cooperation with the groups untenable. In 1952, Low allowed expansion of Recovery outside of Illinois, giving control of local groups to former patients who had become group leaders. Following Low’s death in 1954, Recovery transitioned completely from a professionally run treatment adjunct, to a peer-run self-help group.

Effective 01 January 2007 Recovery, Inc. formally changed its name to Recovery International. On 02 January 2008 Recovery International merged with The Abraham Low Institute and provisionally renamed the new organisation Recovery International / The Abraham Low Institute (RI/TALI). On 01 January 2009, Abraham Low Self-Help Systems was incorporated to umbrella several new programmes, and the group continues operations as Recovery International and Abraham Low Self-Help Systems in various states and internationally.

Fundamental Concepts

Symptoms

The causes and classification of mental illnesses are considered irrelevant in the Recovery method. Recovery members are simply viewed as people who have developed disturbing symptom-reactions leading to ill-controlled behaviour. Symptoms are threatening sensations; including feelings, impulses, and obsessive thoughts. The phrase, “symptomatic idiom” describes the mental association of danger with symptoms.

The symptomatic idiom implies that there is an impending catastrophe of physical collapse, mental collapse, or permanent handicap. In the first instance, for example, a person may consider heart palpitations as signalling that sudden death is imminent, or that a painful headache is caused by a brain tumour; phobias, compulsions, and ruminations would eventually cause a mental collapse. The fear of permanent handicap insists that there is no cure or relief for one’s mental illness and that recovery is impossible.

Temper

Temper is a combination of a feeling and a judgement about oneself or others. The feeling is related to one of the two types of temper, fear or anger. The judgment is that one has been wronged by another, or that one has done something wrong. “Fearful temper” arises from thoughts that one has made a mistake (has done something wrong) which in turn causes feelings such as fear, shame and inadequacy. “Angry temper” results from the belief that one has been wronged which in turn creates feelings of indignation and impatience. There is a two-way relationship between temper and symptoms. Symptoms induce emotions such as fear and anger, which in turn induce temper, which increases the intensity of the symptoms.

“Temperamental lingo” describes language related to judgments of right and wrong, and the use of defeatist language when discussing symptoms. When discussing symptoms, temperamental lingo includes the use of adjectives such as “intolerable,” “uncontrollable,” “unbearable,” and similar language that places an emphasis on the dangerous and fatalistic implications of feelings, impulses, or thoughts.

Will

Free will is fundamental to Recovery’s method. The subconscious, as it is known in psychoanalysis, as well as viewpoints emphasizing unconscious motivations, drives, and instincts are considered to be self-defeating. Recovery considers adults as capable of behaving based on deliberate plans, settled decisions, reasoned conclusions and firm determinations. Will gives adults the ability to accept or reject thoughts and impulses. Recovery members achieve mental health by training their Wills to reject self-defeating thoughts and impulses, countering them with self-endorsing thoughts and wellness-promoting actions.

External and Internal Environment

Recovery distinguishes between the External Environment, the realities of a situation, and the Internal Environment, one’s own subjective feelings, thoughts, impulses, and sensations. Two components of the Internal Environment, thoughts and impulses, can be directly controlled by Will. Control of thoughts and impulses allows indirect control over sensations and feelings. For instance, thoughts of insecurity and anxiousness can be replaced with thoughts of security. Similarly, a feeling of fear can be disposed by removing the associated belief of danger (symptomatic idiom). While the Internal Environment can be changed with cognitive reframing, changing one’s External Environment may or may not be possible.

Nervousness

Recovery focuses on treating former mental patients, sometimes referred to as post-psychotic persons, as well as psychoneurotic persons. The latter group is most often referred to as “nervous” or “nervous patients”. Recovery members may refer to themselves as “nervous patients” regardless of whether they are being treated by a physician or other professional. Sociologist Edward Sagarin described this as a compromise between the term neurotic and the more colloquial phrase “nervous breakdown”.

Common Techniques

Recovery encourages members to cognitively reframe their experiences using several techniques. Spotting, reframing defeatist language, self-endorsement and creating Examples are the most commonly cited in scholarly reviews of Recovery.

Spotting

Spotting is an introspective relabelling of thoughts and symptoms. When a thought arises related to angry temper, fearful temper, or associating danger with a symptom it must be spotted and reframed. Members practice spotting and reacting appropriately to the distressing thought or symptom.

Reframing Language

Recovery developed its own language for labelling psychiatric symptoms and responding to them. This language is centred around two concepts, “authority” and “sabotage.” It is suggested that members rely on the authority of a physician’s diagnosis with respect to their symptoms. For instance, if a member self-diagnoses a headache as being caused by a brain tumour, but a physician has diagnosed it otherwise, then the member is said to be sabotaging the physician’s authority. This is similarly true for the member’s prognosis, if a member despairs that their condition is hopeless, but a physician has found the prognosis to be good, this is also sabotage of the physician’s authority. Using the physician’s perspective to reframe defeatist thoughts is intended to help members recognise that they have not lost control, and their situation can be coped with.

Self-Endorsement

Members practice self-endorsement of every effort made to use a Recovery method, no matter how small and regardless of the outcome. In this way, similar subsequent efforts will require less work and are more likely to be successful. Similarly members are taught to change their behaviour in “part acts” (small steps), to simply “move their muscles” to complete tasks, however small, to eventually complete larger overwhelming tasks.

Creating Examples

The Example format was created by Low as a means to allow Recovery to function as a stand-alone lay self-help group that would not require professional supervision. Members create Examples by following a four-part outline, each part requiring a description.

  • Details of an event that caused distress.
  • The symptoms and discomfort that the event aroused.
  • How Recovery principles were utilised to cope with the event.
  • How the member would have behaved in response to the event before joining Recovery.

Examples are a formalised way to practice the Recovery programme. A successful outcome is not required to create an Example, as all attempts at practicing Recovery methods are endorsed.

Meetings

1937 to 1952

During the first fifteen years of Recovery, Low required members to attend classes and meetings for at least six months at a cost of ten dollars per month, not including the membership dues of two dollars per year. Members would meet at least three days a week and on Wednesdays take part in panel discussions as panellists or audience members held at a private home. Panel discussions would consist of three to four panellists with considerable experience in Recovery discussing a topic from Low’s literature, focusing on spotting and conquering symptoms. Dr. Low would address the audience at the end of each panel discussion summing up the discussion and correcting any misinformation given about Recovery. Every Thursday Low would conduct a group psychotherapy class for Recovery members.

No meetings were held between Saturday and Wednesday. Commonly, novice members would have a “setback,” a relapse of psychiatric symptoms, during this time. As setbacks were considered unavoidable, the novice members were assigned to a more experienced member to call or visit should they need assistance. If the assistance provided by the experienced member was not helpful, they could contact a chairperson in their area (a member who functioned like the physician’s deputy), and if that was still not satisfactory they could contact the physician, Dr. Low.

1952 to Present

At the meetings, members share examples from their lives that caused nervous symptoms, the thoughts that occurred just beforehand, how they spotted them and reacted to them. Other members offer alternative ways of looking at the situation and suggest how to better handle similar symptoms in the future. Meetings range in size from 6 to 30 members and follow a rigid schedule to ensure adherence to Recovery methods. Each meeting has a leader in a permanent position; leadership duties do not rotate from meeting to meeting. Each meeting is split into five parts. Members introduce themselves by first name only, as is practiced in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Impact of Pandemic (2020-2021)

Due to COVID-19, more than 300 community meetings were closed, and many new telephone and online meetings were added. This gives people access to more meetings at various times during the week, regardless of geography.

Reading of Recovery Literature

The beginning of a meeting is generally reserved for reading from Recovery literature. Members take turns reading sections of a chapter or article. Group leaders will often call on new members during this period, or members who are hesitant to volunteer. After finishing a paragraph a group leader will often ask a member if they experienced any symptoms while reading the literature and will endorse them for the efforts to continue reading despite feelings of discomfort or fear of making mistakes.

Presentation of Examples

Only members who have read Mental Health Through Will Training are allowed to participate in this portion of the meeting. Those participating form a “panel” although they are usually seated face-to-face around a table. The group leader reminds the members that examples should be constructed around day-to-day events as Recovery is a non-professional organisation and cannot help people with major problems. This statement is qualified, however, with Low’s opinion that the majority of a nervous patient’s problems are related to “trivial” incidents. Rather than being a limitation of Recovery’s programme, this is intended to be a novel treatment approach. A day-today trivial event may generalise to other problems experienced by the member. Discussion of trivialities is less threatening than complex problems, making a discussion of coping mechanisms possible.

A survey of groups in Chicago in 1971 and 1977 found that most examples presented were stories of successful application of the Recovery method, less than 10% represented “problem examples” where the application was not successful.

Group participation

After an Example has been given, the meeting is opened for “group spotting”. During this period other members of the panel are allowed to comment on the Example based on Recovery principles. This group leader usually makes the first comments, and if there are no volunteers to continue, he or she may call on panel members to provide commentary. Comments not based on Recovery’s concepts or not related to the example are stopped by the group leader. Comments are either classed as positive, praise for application of a Recovery method, or negative, related to an instance where a method was not applied. An Example rarely passes without mention of additional Recovery techniques that could be applied to it. This serves as a constant reminder that Recovery’s method can never be practiced perfectly; members can always learn from experience and benefit from group practice.

For example, a person may experience “lowered feelings” (depression) because they are aiming for a perfect performance. Trying to be perfect or trying to appear perfect leads one to feel down if one makes even the slightest mistake. All improvements, no matter how small, are acknowledged and members are encouraged to endorse themselves for their efforts – not for their successes. Longstanding members are encouraged to share their success with the Recovery methods to help newcomers. Low saw the sharing of successes by veteran members as an essential component of meetings, as it demonstrates that distressing sensations can be endured, impulses can be controlled, and obsessions can be checked.

Question and Answer

Following the panel presentation, about fifteen minutes are set aside for a question and answer period. Any member may ask a question of the panel during this time, newcomers are especially encouraged to participate. Discussion, however, must be limited to the Examples given and related Recovery concepts. Discussion questioning Recovery’s method is not allowed. Discussion of psychological theories outside of Recovery is similarly discouraged. In a case where a member brings up a disagreement between his physician and a Recovery concept, he or she is told that the panel is not qualified to provide an answer not related to the Examples presented. Members are expected to follow the advice of their professional; Recovery is not intended as a substitute for psychiatric services, but a self-directed programme that can be used as an adjunct to professional treatment, or alone when professional treatment is not available.

Mutual Aid Meeting

The formal meeting ends with the question and answer period, and an informal “mutual-aid” gathering usually follows. During this time refreshments are usually served. Members may speak freely with one another and discuss problems or ask for advice, although there is an attempt to keep the discussion within the bounds of Recovery concepts. By convention, discussion of problems are limited to five minutes in an attempt to discourage self-pity and complaining.

Organisational Structure

From 1952 to 2008, Recovery was run from its office in Chicago by a twelve-member Board of Directors, a number of committees, organisation officers, and a full-time paid administrative staff. The Board of Directors was elected at Recovery’s annual meeting and served for a period of three years. Authority from the Board of Directors was passed to Area Leaders then to Assistant Area Leaders, District Leaders, and lastly to Group Leaders. Leaders are trained to run Recovery meetings, but are not considered experts or authorities. Policies and practices of Recovery were made by the Board of Directors.

Family Participation

In the early years of Recovery, an event was held on Saturday afternoons at Recovery’s office in Chicago for Recovery members as well as their relatives and friends. Later, family and friends of members were allowed to attend meetings, although not to participate. In 1943 Low published a book, Lectures to Relatives of Former Patients to help assist them with the recovery effort; this information was later reprinted in Peace Versus Power in the Family: Domestic Discord and Emotional Distress in 1967.

Effectiveness

In 1945, Abraham Low found the average member improved considerably after the first or second week in the programme as it existed at that time. However, members were required to lose their major symptoms within two months of membership and class attendance. If they did not, this was taken as an indication that the member was still sabotaging the physician’s efforts.

A 1984 study found that following participation in Recovery, former mental patients reported no more anxiety about their mental health than the general public. Members rated their life satisfaction levels as high, or higher, than the general public. Members who had participated two years or more reported the highest levels of satisfaction with their health. Members who participated for less than two years tended to still be taking medication and living below the poverty level with smaller social networks.

A 1988 study found that participation in Recovery decreased members’ symptoms of mental illness and the amount of psychiatric treatment needed. About half of the members had been hospitalised before joining. Following participation, less than 8% had been hospitalised. Members’ scores of neurotic distress decreased, and scores of psychological well-being for longstanding members were no different from members of a control group in the same community. Long-term members were being treated with less psychiatric medication and psychotherapy than newer members.

This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recovery_International >; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA.

What is GROW (Support Group)?

Introduction

GROW is a peer support and mutual-aid organisation for recovery from, and prevention of, serious mental illness. GROW was founded in Sydney, Australia in 1957 by Father Cornelius B. “Con” Keogh, a Roman Catholic priest, and psychiatric patients who sought help with their mental illness in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Consequently, GROW adapted many of AA’s principles and practices. As the organisation matured, GROW members learned of Recovery International, an organisation also created to help people with serious mental illness, and integrated pieces of its will-training methods. As of 2005 there were more than 800 GROW groups active worldwide. GROW groups are open to anyone who would like to join, though they specifically seek out those who have a history of psychiatric hospitalisation or are socioeconomically disadvantaged. Despite the capitalisation, GROW is not an acronym. Much of GROW’s initial development was made possible with support from Orval Hobart Mowrer, Reuben F. Scarf, W. Clement Stone and Lions Clubs International.

Processes

GROW’s literature includes the Twelve Stages of Decline, which indicate that emotional illness begins with self-centeredness, and the Twelve Steps of Personal Growth, a blend of AA’s Twelve Steps and will-training methods from Recovery International. GROW members view recovery as an ongoing life process rather than an outcome and are expected to continue following the Steps after completing them in order to maintain their mental health.

The Twelve Stages of Decline

  1. We gave too much importance to ourselves and our feelings.
  2. We grew inattentive to God’s presence and providence and God’s natural order in our lives.
  3. We let competitive motives, in our dealings with others, prevail over our common personal welfare.
  4. We expressed our suppressed certain feelings against the better judgement of conscience or sound advice.
  5. We began thinking in isolation from others, following feelings and imagination instead of reason.
  6. We neglected the care and control of our bodies.
  7. We avoided recognising our personal decline and shrank from the task of changing.
  8. We systematically disguised in our imaginations the real nature of our unhealthy conduct.
  9. We became a prey to obsessions, delusions and hallucinations.
  10. We practised irrational habits, under elated feelings of irresponsibility or despairing feelings of inability or compulsion.
  11. We rejected advice and refused to co-operate with help.
  12. We lost all insight into our condition.

The Twelve Steps of Recovery and Personal Growth

  1. We admitted to personal disorder in our lives.
  2. We firmly resolved to restore order in our lives and co-operated with the help that we needed.
  3. We surrendered to the healing power God or We surrendered to the healing power of truth.
  4. We made personal inventory and accepted ourselves.
  5. We made moral inventory and cleaned out our hearts.
  6. We endured until ‘cured’.
  7. We took care and control of our bodies.
  8. We learned to think by reason rather than by feelings and imagination.
  9. We trained our wills to regulate our feelings.
  10. We took our responsible and caring place in the wider community.
  11. We grew daily closer to maturity.
  12. We carried GROW’s hopeful, healing, and transforming message to others in need.

GROW suggests atheists and agnostics use “We became inattentive to objective natural order in our lives” and “We trusted in a health-giving power in our lives as a whole” for the Second Stage of Decline and Third Step of Personal Growth, respectively.

Results of Qualitative Analysis

Statistical evaluations of interviews with GROW members found they identified self-reliance, industriousness, peer support, and gaining a sense of personal value or self-esteem as the essential ingredients of recovery. Similar evaluations of GROW’s literature revealed thirteen core principles of GROW’s program. They are reproduced in the list below by order of relevance, with a quote from GROW’s literature, explaining the principle.

  1. Be Reasonable: “We learned to think by reason rather than by feelings and imagination.”
  2. Decentralize, participate in community: “‚Ķdecentralization from self and participation in a community of persons is the very process of recovery or personal growth.”
  3. Surrender to the Healing Power of a wise and loving God: “God, who made me and everything connected with me, can overcome any and every evil that affects my life.”
  4. Grow Closer to Maturity: “Maturity is a coming to terms with oneself, with others, and with life as a whole.”
  5. Activate One’s Self to Recover and Grow “Take your fingers off your pulse and start living.”
  6. Become Hopeful: “I can, and ultimately will, become completely well; God who made me can restore me and enable me to do my part. The best in life and love and happiness is ahead of me.”
  7. Settle for Disorder: “Settle for disorder in lesser things for the sake of order in greater things; and therefore be content to be discontent in many things.”
  8. Be Ordinary: “I can do whatever ordinary good people do, and avoid whatever ordinary good people avoid. My special abilities will develop in harmony only if my foremost aim is to be a good ordinary human being.”
  9. Help Others: We carried the GROW message to others in need.
  10. Accept One’s Personal Value: “No matter how bad my physical, mental, social or spiritual condition I am always a human person, loved by God and a connecting link between persons; I am still valuable, my life has a purpose, and I have my unique place and my unique part in my Creator’s own saving, healing and transforming work.”
  11. Use GROW: “Use the hopeful and cheerful language of GROW.”
  12. Gain Insight: “We made moral inventory and cleaned out our hearts.”
  13. Accept Help: “We firmly resolved to get well and co-operated with the help that we needed.”

Effectiveness

Participation in GROW has been shown to decrease the number of hospitalisations per member as well as the duration of hospitalisations when they occur. Members report an increased sense of security and self-esteem, and decreased anxiety. A longitudinal study of GROW membership found time involved in the programme correlated with increased autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, self-acceptance and social skills. Women in particular experience positive identity transformation, build friendships and find a sense of community in GROW groups.

Literature

The Programme of Growth to Maturity, generally referred to as the ‘Blue Book’, is the principal literature used in GROW groups. The book is divided into three sections based on the developmental stages of members: ‘Beginning Growers’, ‘Progressing Growers’ and ‘Seasoned Growers’. Additionally, there are three related books written by Cornelius B. Keogh, and one by Anne Waters, used in conjunction with the Blue Book.

  • GROW (1983). GROW: World Community Mental Health Movement: The Program of Growth to Maturity (the “Blue Book”). Sydney, Australia: GROW Publications. OCLC 66288113.
  • Keogh, Cornelius B. (1975). Readings for mental health (the “Brown Book”). Sydney, Australia: GROW Publications. ISBN 0-909114-00-5. OCLC 47699449.
  • Keogh, Cornelius B.; GROW (Australia) (1967). Readings for recovery (the “Red Book”). Sydney Australia: GROW. OCLC 154602570.
  • Keogh, Cornelius B. (1967). Recovery. Sydney, Australia. OCLC 57499165.
  • Waters, Anne (2005). GROWing to Maturity: A Potpourri of Readings for Mental Health (the “Lavender Book”). GROW in Ireland Ltd. ISBN 0-9529198-2-6.