Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name



Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Francesca Pernice-Duca

Second Advisor

Stephen Hillman


Individuals with serious mental illness experience numerous barriers that prevent achieving a meaningful life, as well as increase the risk of social isolation and ostracism. However, recovery from serious mental illness is an emerging reality for many who experience psychiatric illness. Psychiatric rehabilitation programs that promote recovery, community integration, and acceptance aim to combat the potentially detrimental consequences of mental illness. The purpose of this study was to examine how inter/intrapersonal variables, such as sense of mattering, sense of community, and perceived stigma influence recovery from mental illness among consumers who participate in psychiatric rehabilitation programs, known as clubhouses. In addition, readiness for change was examined to determine if stage of change was predictive of greater recovery. This study involved in-depth interviews with 143 mental health consumers from 10 clubhouses in Michigan. The Recovery Assessment Scale was used to measure the subjective experience of recovery. Functional indicators of recovery, such as decrease in symptoms and adequacy of finances, were predictive of, and therefore substantiated, the subjective experience of recovery. Multivariate regression analysis revealed consumers that spent more time at the clubhouse was predictive of stages of change. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that consumers experienced greater recovery when they perceived less stigmatizing attitudes about their illness and experienced a personal sense of mattering and sense of community. In addition, experiencing a sense of mattering was significant in reducing perceived stigma. Based on the theoretical framework of the belongingness hypothesis a conceptual model was developed identifying sense of belonging as the underpinnings for the development of recovery. Hypothesized relationships between specific constructs were examined using Structural Equation Modeling. The conceptualized model provided a good fit for the data and indicated that sense of belonging significantly predicts factors of recovery including, positive identity, hope and meaning, and illness responsibility and support. These results offer clinical implications and implore further research on sense of mattering and achieving recovery.

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Psychology Commons