What is Psychosocial Rehabilitation?

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  • Written By: Vanessa Harvey
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 24 December 2019
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There is more than one definition of psychosocial rehabilitation, but they all express a common goal of this approach to working with people who have mental illness. It can be defined as a plan or program designed to help individuals who suffer a disability, impairment or disorder in their mental health to attain their highest level of independence within their community. Psychosocial rehabilitation is an all-inclusive approach to facilitating the entry or return to participation, as far as possible, in every aspect of normal life, including employment and recreational activities. The methods used and the plans written for this type of psychiatric rehabilitation can be considered personalized or customized to respond to the specific needs of the individual in rehab instead of a generalized and impersonal approach that does not achieve the desired goals.

Whatever the exact training might be for a mentally challenged individual, the achievement of certain goals is the whole purpose of psychosocial rehabilitation. They include working with the person to take him or her from being a "victim" to being a survivor, from being dependent to achieving independence and from exclusion from mainstream society to inclusion in the many areas of daily life. Psychosocial rehabilitation practitioners seek to instill a strong sense of self-worth in mentally disabled people so that they will want to take charge of their lives and responsibility to best of their ability, which is often underestimated.


The goals and approaches to the practice of psychosocial rehabilitation are very similar to those of physical rehabilitation. People who lose their eyesight can be trained to function independently and to receive assistance from seeing-eye dogs so that they can continue to be active and valued members of their communities. Physically disabled people can be retrained for another profession and provided with medical equipment that enables them to be independent so that they can enjoy independence and the freedom to take charge of their lives despite being physically challenged. Mentally challenged persons, through psychosocial rehabilitation, have made remarkable progress in learning to function independently and responsibly in their communities.

People in psychosocial rehabilitation might or might not take prescription medications, because the central goal is not to cover up or "drug" the problem; rather, there is the desire to bring out the very best in the individual. The quality of life for the people who undergo this type of psychiatric rehabilitation depends not only on their training but also on the many support services used to assist them in everyday life. For example, social workers continue to manage their cases, counselors continue to offer them therapy, and they learn vocational skills from individuals trained to teach them marketable job skills.


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