Recovery From Disability: Manual of Psychiatric Rehabilitation

June 9, 2011
Michael Alan Schwartz, MD

Volume 28, Issue 5

Given Dr Liberman’s remarkable productivity and his amazing capacity to keep his finger on the pulse of the field, I expect to find practical guidance in such circumstances in the next edition of Recovery From Disability.

Caring for patients with persisting and disabling mental illnesses now means keeping Robert Liberman’s Recovery From Disability close at hand-the guidebook that you have been waiting for has arrived! Your copy may get dog-eared; it will undoubtedly also be used by your patients, your colleagues, your team, and others-but it’s a sturdy volume and well worth its cost.

Robert Paul Liberman, MD, is a founder of modern psychiatric rehabilitation; a masterful teacher; and, with his colleagues, a hands-on, paradigm-developing researcher. During a 40-year career, he has conceived many of the terms, concepts, and empirically validated tools and treatments used in present-day psychiatric rehabilitation-eg, social skills training, social learning therapy, and behavioral family management. Recovery From Disability brings all of this and decades of experience together in a remarkably useful compendium.

Neither a conventional textbook nor a volume meant to gather dust in one’s library, the book is a user-friendly handbook for active practice. As the author himself clarifies, it is a guidebook for “those working in mental health centers, clinics and hospitals, day treatment centers, psychosocial clubhouses, community support and self-help programs, and even private offices.”

Recovery From Disability is organized into 10 sections, beginning with the principles and practices of psychiatric rehabilitation as “the Road to Recovery,” and going on to illness management, functional assessment, social skills training, family involvement, vocational rehabilitation, methods and modalities of service delivery, and special services for special populations. I especially welcomed Dr Liberman’s straightforward language, his emphasis on empirical validation, and his focus on recovery from mental disorders as a practical and attainable goal.

Highlights include an emphasis on empirically validated treatments and constructs; useful illustrations and diagrams; clear descriptions of all terms (remarkably helpful and even necessary in a rapidly changing field replete with agencies, transdisciplinary approaches, and no shortage of bureaucratese); and generous end-of-chapter tables of “key points.” Dr Liberman’s skill as a master educator is clear throughout the book.

What I might wish for in his next edition is an additional chapter on engaging the patient who is unmotivated and unaware. Liberman’s book focuses on collaboration, but how do we collaborate in these circumstances? Given Dr Liberman’s remarkable productivity and his amazing capacity to keep his finger on the pulse of the field, I expect to find practical guidance in such circumstances in the next edition of Recovery From Disability.