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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Working with Heroes - Hearing Their Voices

Working with Heroes - Hearing Their Voices

by Sarah Moon

As an educator in the field of Psychiatric Rehabilitation it is hard to encapsulate the profound impact supporting the writers within the clubhouse where I worked, in submitting their deeply personal and moving accounts of one or many in-patient stays they experienced during their road to recovery, had on me.

Working in the field of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and having the opportunity to work in many different capacities in the field, I believe our industry is truly migrating towards the train of thought that ‘Best practices are achieved when listening to the voice of the peer”, and it is that voice that holds such profound power in making affective changes in the care provided to individuals with disabilities. 

When the writing Unit at Our Massachusetts Clubhouse, was presented with the opportunity to submit essays on their accounts during in-patient stays, they eagerly embraced the chance to share their stories with bravery and commitment.

As Head of the Education Unit at our clubhouse — having the opportunity to support a group of writers in capturing in essay form such emotional and personal portrayals of stays at in-patient facilities — was a true honor.  This honor, however embraced working tirelessly for months to balance such moving and emotional content in conjunction with the technical writing components necessary. The editing from both within our clubhouse and later with the editing team of Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics was for me, an amazing demonstration of teamwork in the field of Psychiatric Rehabilitation. 

From a professional perspective, the continuum of dedication I got to witness from the individuals in the Clubhouse courageously putting their stories in writing, to the support of a group of editors and individuals who believed so strongly in Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, who’s content addressed the complex and often controversial topic of in-patient care for the mentally ill, was moving.  But, what was most astounding to me was the visionaries who chose to create this journal and then chose to open the symposia series with the Narrative of the Patient.  

The amount of edits that  transpired over  months to make this project a reality , often felt  daunting, but working with a true team of professionals, specifically Chuck Lidz and Susan DuBois, reminded this provider of the true power a team of professionals could have when passionately working towards a common goal.

The day I received the official call that the Journal was going to print, I had one of those rare moments of sheer joy we get to experience in our professional lives, specifically in the field of human services. The feeling that your collaborative efforts to support a group of individuals whose undertaking  could not only make a difference on a individual level, but whose  efforts  had the capacity to reach beyond that scope and to possibly impact decisions for a whole  population of people with mental illness who receive in-patient care.

I remember the tears that rolled down my cheek because this journal signified so much meaning for all involved in the journey.  The highlight for me as a professional came in two parts, witnessing what it meant for the members to feel that their experiences were valued and truly mattered.  And having the opportunity through my conversations with those members to watch them grasp in totality the depth of what their narratives could mean in making real changes for the future of inpatient care. The elation I got when I was able to make the official communication whether by phone or in person to the writers who submitted essays and proudly exclaim “It went to press and it is being published” was indescribable!!!!

I will never forget being a part of the journey of having this journal come to life and I feel honored to have been able to be a medium for the individuals who fearlessly shared their experiences and “the knowing” that their heroic efforts will bring to the forefront changes that are imperative going forward for the many components of in-patient care for people with Mental Illness.

In this provider’s eyes, this project was vital for not only improving care in the  field of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, but on a larger scope — the choice to open their series from the most important voice of all — the individuals who have received the care. This lets me know we are truly heading in the right direction.