What is Psychosocial Rehabilitation?

Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR) helps people with mental health and addictions issues to recover and reclaim their quality of life. It’s a powerful approach for those in recovery, their loved ones, and the clinicians and other service providers aiding in their recovery.

PSR is validated by rigorous research studies and, when properly implemented, can help support systems become more recovery oriented.


PSR involves a set of ethics, values, principles, and evidence-based practices. They are foundational for developing processes with well-documented relevance and effectiveness in promoting recovery. These are with and for persons living with mental health or addiction issues, and their supporters.


Developing trusting relationships between the people receiving and delivering services is critical to successful recovery outcomes. Competent practitioners act on values such as self-determination and shared decision making, justice, social inclusion, meaningful activity participation, and wellbeing and stigma reduction.

Practitioners use these values to develop interventions that are accessible and evidence-based. Interventions should be culturally sensitive and trauma-informed while meeting individuals’ needs and preferences in their local communities.

Interventions and practices can focus on wellbeing domains:

    This assists individuals in identifying their strengths, skills, needs, supports, and resources so they can successfully meet their recovery goals.
    These are services deemed effective as a result of research, participant feedback and accurate implementation. Examples include housing, peer support, family involvement, individual placement, and support.
    These are generally evidence-based and offer specialized services that include required program components such as staff supervision. For example, Recovery Colleges, Wellness Recovery Action Planning, ACT.
    These are supportive actions by a trained practitioner for goal acquisition, including engagement and motivation strategies, trauma-informed interventions, promoting meaningful activity participation, and social skills training.
    This involves building rapport, strengths-based assessments, goal identification and recording, intervention, evaluation, discharge, and/or re-engagement in services.
    This is essential to maintaining the integrity of recovery-oriented services and quality improvement. It includes both people with lived experiences and their supporters as full partners.

Evidence grows for effectiveness of psychosocial rehabilitation services

Evidence for psychosocial rehabilitation service delivery is becoming more robust. Researchers, policymakers, and administrators are now privileging the voices of persons who live with mental health issues, and their loved ones, in developing our body of evidence. This has led to greater insights regarding mechanisms of change, what works, and how to implement findings.

Our strongest current evidence is for individual placement and support and housing. However, evidence for cognitive remediation, supported education (such as recovery colleges), and wellbeing interventions (such as mindfulness and engaging meaningful activities to promote recovery) are showing promising results.

For free open access evidence informed literature on specific practices please see PSR Canada library or education

Visit psr Canada

Linking PSR and recovery

In high-and-middle-income countries, recovery is considered the dominant philosophy in mental health and addiction service design, delivery, evaluation, implementation, and research. Recovery has evolved thanks largely to the inspiring work of experts, many of whom were also academics, such as Dr. Patricia Deegan. In addition, early work by Dr. William Anthony and colleagues from Boston University and longitudinal studies by Dr. Harding et al. demonstrated that recovery is indeed possible for most individuals who live with a significant mental health diagnosis.

Recovery has multiple definitions and speaks to having a life with self-determined meaning, purpose, and satisfaction while living with the diagnosis. A noteworthy and helpful recovery framework by Leamy and colleagues is called CHIME (connectedness; hope and optimism about the future; identity; meaning in life; and empowerment). In addition, please see the Mental Health Commission of Canada for guidelines for recovery-oriented practice.


Principles, Values, Ethics, Competency of PSR

These documents are intended to be living documents that guide PSR practices, services, research and evaluation.

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