University of Illinois at Chicago
Department of Psychiatry
Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy

National Research and Training Center (NRTC)

Project Updates

/Training and Education

Promoting Organizational Change Through the Freedom Self-Advocacy Curriculum

The purpose of this project is to teach clients of a large psychiatric rehabilitation agency self-advocacy skills to prepare them for a direct role in the agency's efforts to transform its focus to recovery. The project will use a training program developed by the National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse ( and its partners, called the Freedom Self-Advocacy Curriculum. (

The Freedom Self-Advocacy Curriculum (FSAC) is taught in three, ninety-minute workshops to help people take control of their own mental health recovery and assert their civil rights. The first workshop focuses on defining self-advocacy and raising participants' awareness about how discrimination and the consequences of their illness can lead to self-defeating thoughts and behaviors. The second workshop builds participants' knowledge of the mental health system, financial benefits, community support services, and other systems. The third workshop teaches participants self-advocacy skills and assertive communication techniques. Since it was released in 2000, the FSAC has been offered in 20 states or protectorates and featured at national conferences.

This project is being implemented at Thresholds ( a psychiatric rehabilitation center that provides 5,000 culturally diverse adults and youth with therapeutic care, supported education, supported employment, housing, and wellness services using a holistic approach to treatment. Clients who wish to become self-advocacy trainers will be educated by Clearinghouse staff to offer the FSAC to the Thresholds membership. Peer trainers will offer FSAC workshops at the agency over the course of two years, and changes in participants' knowledge and their satisfaction with the training program will be assessed. Also assessed will be whether and how clients' new self-advocacy skills have a qualitative impact on the agency's transformation efforts.

The UIC CMHSRP is part of the ongoing Education and Research efforts of the UIC Department of Psychiatry

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