Introduction: Psychiatric/psychosocial rehabilitation (PSR) is a set of practices aimed at facilitating the
recovery of people with serious mental illnesses (SMI) such as schizophrenia. This paper reviews the history and
foundations of PSR.
Methods: A selective literature search using ERIC, Psychinfo and Medline from 1970 to 2012 was conducted with input
from leading experts in the field of PSR to produce a narrative review.
Results: PSR emerged as a significant field of practice and study during the 1970s and 1980s, in part as a response to the
policy of deinstitutionalization which resulted in the discharge of large numbers of state hospital patients to unsupportive
communities. In the last twenty years, the notion that individuals with psychiatric disabilities could recover, transitioned
from an optimistic belief to an empirical understanding of the progress that could be made. Recovery emerged as an
appropriate mission for services, consistent with progress in PSR development and implementation. This emphasis on
promoting the ability of individuals with psychiatric disabilities to claim or reclaim a meaningful life, makes PSR services
focused on success and satisfaction in valued roles, an even more critical component of a comprehensive mental health
Conclusion: Considerable agreement has developed about PSR’s fundamental philosophy, principles and values along
with a significant body of research that informed the development of its practices, provider training and pre-service
preparation based on a set of distinct evidence-informed interventions and other practices that providers and administrators
across disciplines can and do use to help individuals with serious mental illnesses reach their recovery goals.