While illness can be easily defined as the presence of symptoms that yield a specific diagnosis, the term recovery is more ambiguous. Is recovery merely the absence of the symptoms that led to the diagnosis? A parallel would equate health with the absence of illness, but our personal experience and expert scholarship is clear that health is much more than the absence of illness. The primary concern I explore in my work is trauma, especially recovery from trauma through the process of reconstructing personal meaning. Thus understanding component parts of recovery is important.
Component parts are greater than characteristics. For example, here are some characteristics of recovery:
- Recovery is an individual and unique process.
- Recovery can happen without a cure.
- Recovery is a struggle.
- Recovery does not happen in a smooth fashion, but rather an irregular fashion, with steps forward and steps backward.
- Recovery takes trial and error to accomplish.
These characteristics help us see recovery more clearly but do not allow us to define goals or objectives within recovery.
A synthesis for recovery tasks was outlined by Mary Leamy, Victoria Bird, Clair Le Boutillier, Julie Williams and Mike Slade in 2011, and that synthesis is the foundation for my own conception of the tasks of recovery and how they dovetail with meaning reconstruction. Here are those component parts: