edited by Sally Clay; Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt University Press, 2005, 286 pages, $27.95 softcover
Mr. Einhaus is a peer specialist at the Eastern State Hospital, Medical Lake, Washington.
The book takes a long overdue look at the power of peer-run services in the mental health system. It embraces the core principles of recovery, such as hope, personal responsibility, and empowerment. The book is a well-developed approach that looks at some of the successful peer-run programs throughout the United States. The chapters explore the clubhouse model, advocacy networks, and peer education. The authors demonstrate that peer support is a viable, successful strategy for people with psychiatric impairments to achieve the hopes and dreams of "normalcy."
The authors also provide excellent insight, along with background statistics on how to organize and run a successful peer-support program in a community. The authors discuss how compassion, empathy, and understanding as integral values expressed through clubhouse, advocacy, and education empower consumers toward recovery. By showing that people can and do recover, the book succeeds in outlining a vision for the future and highlights the importance of peer services to people who struggle. In addition, the book addresses the importance of Alcoholics Anonymous and 12-step principles in consumer recovery.
As a peer specialist at a major state psychiatric hospital, I highly recommend that professionals read On Our Own, Together to understand consumers' perspectives. The recovery model is fairly new. It will continue to grow as professionals, lay people, and consumers build their understanding and implement the model. It is refreshing to read a comprehensive text of success stories. The book is outstanding in its scope and vision for how these programs can help consumers enjoy more fulfilling lives in spite of limitations. The inspirational message rings true: recovery happens.