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It is recommended that the reader print the “Flash Drive Forms” and “Terms and Definitions” page prior to reviewing this online educational platform to aid one’s comprehension and understanding.

The Organizing Principle

Dr. Patricia Deegan, Ph.D., a research pioneer in Recovery Orientation to Mental Health, is quoted as saying, “Recovery cannot occur in a vacuum.” Dr. Deegan goes on to declare that recovery cannot be achieved through nothingness; it needs a mission, vision, and purpose. As such, making a recovery requires an “Organizing Principle” acting as an individual’s recovery DNA, if you will, that represents the person’s unique thumbprint guiding this transformative journey. The quest for each person experiencing poor medication returns is to fill this vacuum with a mission, purpose, and vision. From her research and that of others, the recovery field can be organized under several domains or dimensions that codify the configuration of the recovery DNA. (See Link to Organizing Principle, Chart)

The organizing fields or dimensions are;

1) Community

2) Connections

3) Health

4) Supports

5) Interests/ Passions

6) Spiritual/Religious

7) Futures

8) Learning/Education

9) Vocational/Income

10) Personal Qualities

Description: Organizing Field Codes
With the “Community” factor, a person finds belonging, connections, safety, and security within its spaces, places, activities, resources, civic engagement, health services, religious/spiritual affiliations, housing, and income procurement.

“Connections” are affiliated with positive relational attachments, be it with friendships, family, work, organizations, intimate partners, volunteering, pets, or with activities of interest and passions, like reading, music, pets, gardening, learning, etc. When Community and Connections are combined, isolation and loneliness recede, and a sense of belonging is accentuated.

Regarding “Health,” most people with long-standing mental health conditions not responsive to medications tend to leave taking care of their bodies and minds as last on the list of priorities. With this protocol, health building is essential. This can look like focusing on movements, like exercise, walking, nutrition, eating habits, learning, and positive attitudes to engaging in passions. Other factors involved in feeding health are quality sleep, quality connections, proper housing, living wages, nature exposure, and having goals, to name a few. While the mind/body can be the last task on the priority list, these elements of health, when neglected retard not just recovery but treatment, as well. We also find that with failing health, the mental health condition tends to worsen, producing more significant aggravation of symptoms and poorer personal functioning. However, putting health as a recovery priority greatly assists with reducing the grip, strength, and influence of the mental health condition in one’s life while building the strength of body and mind to carry the weight of the mental illness. With this position, a person experiences greater freedom, energy, and clarity of mind.

As for “Supports,” this field factor looks at instrumental and emotional supports, whether through one’s psychiatric provider, friendships, family, co-workers, peers, religious/ spiritual affiliations, special interest groups, cultural organizations, psychotherapy, or community services. The making of a recovery is a collaborative effort that requires support. Instrumental support refers to tangible assistance with activities of living. With emotional support, the focus is on feeling the warmth of companionship and connection, directly or through proximity tied to availability. This area of The Organizing Principle also positively addresses isolation and loneliness.

Having “Interests/ Passions,” whether solo, tandem (two) or group-based, is an important pursuit. This factor can range from engaging in activities like piano playing, cooking, singing in the shower, sexual play, roles of significance, must routines, exercising abilities, and much more. Such activities energize, build purpose, fuel hopefulness, enhance personal growth, and add “meaning” to living.

For many people, engaging in “Religious” and or “Spiritual” affairs is deeply tied to making a personal recovery. Faith evoked by these endeavors is a nutrient for building hopefulness and hope itself, holding to the motto “Against all odds, I shall prevail.” For other people, transcendent experiences born through nature, mediation, praying, sexual intimacy, or close connections, for example, can be seen as religious or spiritual acts. For those who experience isolation and loneliness, being with a congregation or actively participating in church activities offers solace and a way to find belonging through companionship and fellowship. The key to this factor is a strong belief in something greater than us that possesses an intelligent force guiding one’s life and humanity, knowing what is best, whether through pain and suffering or joy and pleasure. Such a belief is comforting, reassuring, and a stress modulator and carries the adage, “This too shall pass” and “the pasture can be greener on the other side with what we make for ourselves.”

With the “Futures” factor, knowing where one is heading, whether during the day, week, month, or year, is vital to a recovery. For example, waking up in the morning and looking forward to walking the dog is a goal-oriented future pursuit. Any future endeavor of worth must hold a value of importance to feed a purpose. Such “Futures,” in the end, are anticipated feel-goods and rewarding to achieve in one’s life. They can offer a way to be productive and make people feel they are accomplishing something important. The other characteristic of “Futures” is offering delayed reward or gratification because of the worth inherent in what one is striving for. This can be as simple as looking forward to a weekly TV series or aiming to drink five cups of water today and no pop. “Futures” can have an end goal to achieve, like reading a book within a week or a mission to strive for, which is open-ended, such as trying to be the best father ever, no matter what. This is an ongoing future pursuit. Futures build anticipation, allowing one to look forward to the day and future tomorrows.

Another factor to note is related to “Learning and Education.” Self-improvement of one’s abilities, skills, and knowledge fit this theme. This theme is also applied to learning something new for its sake or pursuing a certificate to improve one’s life or that of others. Such endeavors strengthen one’s mental health muscle.

About the “Personal Qualities” dimension, the code speaks to self-observed and or outsider-observed qualities of value that are recognized which pull a person through life, such as a) attitude & beliefs, e.g., I am not a quitter; this too shall pass; no pain no gain; seeing the glass half full; don’t sweat the small stuff  b) characteristics, e.g., courage, persistence, humor, industriousness; positivity, kindness, giving, patience and c) talents e.g., singing; problem solver; finding deals; people reader, seeing goodness in others, carefree, and being disciplined. Note: If one finds difficulty in coming up with attitudes, belief sets, or characteristics, seek out friends, family, intimate partners, and co-workers to comment on what they see, and when there is resonance with what you are hearing, note that as a quality.

The last field factor to note is “Vocational/Income.” Ensuring living wages are procured through social assistance or employment is a huge predictor of recovery, closely linked to appropriate housing. For some folks, training and upgrading education is an element of Futures to come.

The critical components of the organizing field outlined are supported and fueled by self-identified Recovery Drivers;- See Flash Drive Forms, Section 1, Survey B from the Program Site. When known, these drivers are matched with their corresponding organizing field factors. For example, the recovery driver being “kind to oneself” best fits Connections, which refers to connecting to one’s relationship with oneself. In another example, trail walking can come under all these domains: Health, Futures, Interests, and Connecting. Recovery drivers can also have multiple organizing domains they fall under or just one. The critical element to remember is not the driver itself but the potency and weight of force it gives to each field domain.

The next aspect of The Organizing Principle is their configuration by priority of importance. Each domain is organized as either “recovery leaders” or “backend supporters.” There are a total of five organizing fields that can be named as leaders and four for backend support. Since the making of recovery is personal, the judgments on which field factors take priority are subjective and decided upon by each person. When each field’s recovery driver (s) is exercised, the whole weight of the organizing field is in motion to thrust recovery forward. The Organizing Principle strengthens an individual’s psychology of recovery and becomes the compass for leading this journey onward.

As a Unified Field, a person’s Recovery Code Signature (Organizing Principle), when activated, allows its DNA to orchestrate the makings of a recovery.

As a last note, The Organizing Principle is not static but fluid and dynamic. The priority position within the leader group or backend support can change the configuration of the code along with the associated drivers. There is continual flux over time, depending on where one is in one’s recovery journey. The protocol calls for reviews and evaluations to determine the field’s status and what adjustments are required to keep the recovery field healthy and in good shape to deliver the thrust and potency for the person continually.

In the program implementation phase, one is instructed to determine their “Organizing Principle” on the chart provided on Flash Drive Forms, Section 3. This charting is also used to evaluate progress and adjustments needing to be made.


“We are all in this together.”

-The Recovery Specialist