How the Recovery Café Model Works

The Recovery Café is an alternative, therapeutic, supportive community founded on the truth that every human being is precious and worthy of love regardless of their earlier trauma, mental and emotional anguish, or addictive behaviors. Providing a beautiful, safe, warm, drug- and alcohol-free space and loving community to anchor Members (our most closely supported consumers) in the sustained recovery needed to gain and maintain access to housing, social and health services, healthy relationships, education, and employment is essential to this model.

Our model is referred to by the larger behavioral health community as a Recovery Oriented System of Care (ROSC). A ROSC meets people where they are on the recovery continuum, engages them in a lifetime of managing their health, focuses holistically on a person’s needs, and empowers them to build a life that realizes their full potential. This person-centered system of care supports individuals as they establish a healthy life and recognizes that we all need a meaningful sense of membership and belonging in community.

Traditionally, a person receives support when they are in crisis and finds that the support is removed once they begin to experience stability. That model of emergency intervention and abandonment sets one up for a roller-coaster existence which is not only cruel, in that it locks one into a cycle of intense suffering and failure, it is expensive, ineffective, and a waste of human potential. It is hopeful that many states are embracing a more effective and compassionate system of care.

Redefining the Recovery Journey

Recovery Café provides support, resources, and a community of care along the entire continuum of a person’s need for recovery support. We teach skills to manage mental and physical health, maintain sobriety, build community, and help individuals reclaim their lives and identities as persons worthy of giving and receiving love. Our model is designed to prevent one life-threatening crisis after another, saving taxpayer’s money in emergency intervention and allowing mental health and addiction support professionals to focus on health maintenance and addiction prevention. This is a much more humane and effective response.

Our Model

Key to our model is the firm belief that every person is in need of recovery from something and, having chosen the recovery journey, has wisdom to share with others. This belief is the grounding on which we have built our recovery programming.

Research literature has identified four types of social support that Recovery Café provides throughout our programming:

  • emotional – demonstrating empathy, caring, and concern to build a person’s self-esteem;
  • informational – sharing knowledge and information to provide life and/or vocational training;
  • instrumental – providing concrete assistance to help people accomplish tasks; and
  • affiliational – facilitating contacts with other people to promote learning of social skills, create community, and instill a sense of belonging. (Cobb, 1976; Salzer, 2002)

Furthermore, while providing these social supports, our model is also committed to incorporating and aligning programming with the 10 SAMSHA-identified components of successful recovery programs: Self Direction, Individualized and Person-centered, Empowerment, Holistic, Non-Linear, Strengths-based, Peer Support, Respect, Responsibility, and Hope. Following the lead of King County’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Division, we have also adopted the component of “resiliency” which overlaps with and reinforces the aforementioned four elements of social support. We have assimilated these evidence-based practices in our programming and will continue to do so in every new program initiative, enhancement, or revision.