Use of experiential knowledge by mental health professionals and its contribution to recovery: literature review

S Karbouniaris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: This article explores the use of experiential knowledge by traditional mental health professionals and the possible contribution to the recovery of service users.
Design and Methods: The review identified scientific publications from a range of sources and disciplines. Initial searches were undertaken in databases PsycINFO, PubMed, and Cochrane using specific near operator search strategies and inclusion and exclusion criteria.
Results: Fifteen articles were selected. These were published in a broad range of mental health and psychology journals reporting research in western countries. In the selected articles, a varying conceptualization of experiential knowledge was found, differing from therapeutic self-disclosure embedded in psychotherapeutic contexts to a relational and destigmatizing use in recovery-oriented practices. Nurses and social workers especially are speaking out about their own experiences with mental health distress. Experiential knowledge stemming from lived experience affects the professional’s identity and the system. Only a few studies explored the outcomes for service users’ recovery. Conclusion: A small body of literature reports about the use of experiential knowledge by mental health professionals. The mental health system is still in transformation to meaningfully incorporate the lived experience perspective from traditional professionals. There is little data available on the value for the recovery of service users. This data indicates positive outcomes, such as new understandings of recovery, feeling recognized and heard, and increased hope, trust, and motivation. More research about the meaning of experiential knowledge for the recovery of service users is desirable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-19
JournalJournal of Recovery in Mental Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2020

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