Leading a horse to water: An action perspective on mental health policy

Larry Davidson, Elizabeth Flanagan, David Roe, Thomas Styron

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Following publication of several landmark policy documents beginning in 1999, there are unprecedented opportunities for reforming mental health care to meet the needs of persons with mental illness. In this article, the authors suggest that transforming mental health requires dramatic changes in theory as well as in policy and practice, offering action theory as a corrective for a clinical psychology that has yet to view people as active agents shaping their own lives. A participatory approach to policy development and adoption of an action-oriented model of clinical practice provide examples of the shift, which results from treating people to enhancing their access to opportunities and offering them the in vivo supports they need to pursue meaningful lives even while disabled.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1141-1155
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Action theory
  • Recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology


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