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People Walking


& Development

The Development of CARe Methodology in the Netherlands and other countries. 

CARe Methodology: From The Eighties Into The New Century


In the 70s mental health in Holland was dominated by ‘the medical view on psychiatric illnesses’. People with psychiatric diseases where mainly seen as people with a medical illness and where treated in large groups in large institution. The illness itself was seen as a kind of defect, and recovery could not happen in most of the situations. Although in Holland we never had the big hospitals like in the USA, our hospitals met with the criteria of Goffman’s total institutions. People lived, worked and recreated together in large groups. Although we did not have much research data yet, the medical view was considered as the most important way of looking at and explaining psychiatric illnesses. An important counter movement in this period of time was the so called anti psychiatry (Laing Pearls).


And also a growing movement developed: consisting of care professionals who where not satisfied by the dominance of the medical model and its implications. The ‘new movement’ tried to see the clients as a whole human being and not as ‘an illness’ or ‘an addiction’. This resulted in a lot of new ‘alternative’ housing facilities for clients.


In the mid 80s the rehabilitation approaches came to Holland. One important approach was the Individual Rehabilitation Approach from Boston. It showed us that there are many possibilities to live with psychiatric diseases: if there is sufficient support. So we started to work systematically with individual clients.


From the English approach (Bennet and Shepherd) we learned that the environment is an important part of this support. So we started to work with the natural environments in which clients spend time, but also in wards in the hospital with the most disabled clients.


In this respect the rehabilitation movement was also a counter movement: not only was it important to giving good ‘recovery oriented’ support to clients, it also worked as a force for change.


When these rehabilitation ideas came to Holland, we were very enthusiastic about it.


The rehabilitation movement in Holland was picked up by critical professionals who also worked in the hospitals and institutions for mentally disabled people.


So the rehabilitation approaches played an important role in the ‘change movement’: the people who tried to change the mental health care into a system in which each individual client has an individual face and an indicial voice.


In the 80s: although the English and American approaches also became very popular, a Dutch approach on rehabilitation developed. This development was carried by people who worked with the most vulnerable clients. Our main concern was the all these nice views and methods would only reach a smaller part of the clients: the clients who are already able and willing to set life goals and to work together with the professional to reach these goals (in ‘Boston terms: the clients who already showed ‘readiness’).


The change movement had strong roots in the hospitals and sheltered living facilities where over the years clients came with problems of increased complexity: a complex of vulnerabilities like double trouble (addiction and psychiatric problems) , or even triple: also clients with mental disabilities.


So there was a need of translating the rehabilitation principles into two ‘new’ directions:

How to work with clients with extensive and complex vulnerabilities

How to improve the quality of the environments of the clients

Main stream rehabilitation is mainly about one entrance: how to support individual clients. The Dutch approach added two entrances (called ‘steering principles’): vulnerability and environment. Combining these steering principled gave the CARe approach her name: the Comprehensive Approach on Rehabilitation.


In Holland the Individual Approach (Boston) and the CARe approach ‘lived together’ for many years, initially more in competition, gradually in peaceful co-existence, recently working up to cooperation. There will always be a need of more flavours than one, and no approach gives us the “One And Only Answer”.


The CARe approach was adopted in Holland and implemented in all parts of Holland and all kinds of facilities: from working with homeless to working in closed wards in the hospitals. More and more tools where created to meet the needs of the different groups of clients and the different settings: clients with autism, with psychiatric problems, with mental disabilities, with forensic psychiatric problems, the elderly, the young clients, the homeless, the addicted and many combinations.


So rehabilitation became ‘normal’: we have rehabilitation departments, rehabilitation professionals, rehabilitation wards and rehabilitation signs on many doors.

And the CARe approach was exported.


GGZ Nederland (the organization of all mental hospitals and addiction services in Holland) gave money for training in several; (mainly eastern European countries). So CARe is now used in: Estonia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Slovenian Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Albania, Kyrgyzstan, Belgium, Curacao and Denmark.

Evaluation 20 years of developing and working with CARe


After 20 years of slow and gradually developments it was time to evaluate, in 2008 and 2009. Two conclusions where drawn:


1. The building of CARe with its extensive toolkit makes it not easy to focus on the deeper core.


2. Rehabilitations has changed from a counter movement to and institutionalised concept and has become a ‘normal service’. But in the process of doing so, it lost a bit of the ‘critical counter movement idea’.

So we looked for ways to get back to the real core and found inspiration in 2 directions:

The so called Presentie –approach (Andries Baart, Holland)


Recent Developments in CARe methodology

Together these core principles (strengths based and presence) form the heart of the CARe approach. So we changed methodology (a bit): now we always start with only 2 tools: a Personal Profile (which is a Strengths assessment) and a Personal Plan.


This generates the energy to work together and really supports recovery processes of the client. And we use the metaphor of the cupboard to describe the CARe toolkit now: it uses a cupboard with several drawers. In the top drawer we find the two tools we always use.

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Dirk and Jacquelin: CARe at The RINO Groep Utrecht


The Eagle Shelter in Dongen, NL

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In the second drawer we find some tools that are often useful. And in the third and fourth drawers we find tools for several specific situations. And there are tools for the client (self assessment tools) and tools for the professional. Most tools can be used by both working together.

The experiences so far are great. When you start with a good conception of the core (what is really important) and only a few (powerful) tools, working becomes pleasant for clients and for professionals. In a way we have encountered in Holland ‘a second wave of enthusiasm’: the first wave was when we started in the 80-ties. We were full with both ideas and energy.


And we now found that the focusing on the core aspects generates the same energy, with both clients and professionals. Also some financiers showed interest because the focus on strengths generates recovery. And we systematically monitor successes by sharing experiences of success in every meeting.

Jean Pierre Wilken

Another nice experience: 

Basic trainings in the CARe approach, focusing on the core principles, can be relatively short and the used methodology can initially be kept simple. So the main assessment we teach participants, is the strengths assessment.


Next to this, there still is an elaborate way of CARe assessment on five areas as we teach the TEPLA trainings where Tepla CARe Trainers can use CARe methodology on an expert level, as trainers should. But in their trainings, they also can focus on the core elements and use the elaborate CARe assessment and the CARe cupboard in case they are needed.


And on the Isle of Curacao, the CARe approach is developed as a mixture of the Strengths based direction and the more elaborate direction


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Latest Developments

From rehabilitation to recovery

In this century a shift of paradigm took place. Recovery became the new paradigm and the CARe approached was developed in this direction. 


Nowadays the CARe methodology is an effective method to support recovery processes. Research proves that participants in CARe trainings effectively support clients in recovery. 


Another recent development addresses the positioning of the CARe approach. We don’t believe in the situation that there is only one road and one methodology that works. The CARe approach is proven to be effective but more important is that she is developed to blend with other programs and approaches. So nowadays the CARe approach is used together and in harmony with other approaches and organisations make their own recovery menu and CARe is one of the ingredients.



The Douglas Bennett Award was granted to Jean Pierre Wilken and Dirk den Hollander as an oeuvre prize for all the developments with CARe approach. And Dirk den Hollander was honoured by becoming an officer in the Order of Oranje Nassau by the Dutch King.


Dirk den Hollander

CARe and Strengths

Jean Pierre Wilken's PhD: On 12 November he obtained his PhD on the thesis' Recovering Care. A contribution to a theory and practice of good care 'at Tilburg University.

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Dirk den Hollander at Nei Skoen

Community Support Project

"Community Participation" started in three European countries (Hungary, Estonia & The Netherlands) in 2012. The general aim of our project was to develop new knowledge for professionals about effective components of community support programmes. The focus was to increase empowerment and self-support of persons with psychiatric and other disabilities.

The specific aims of the project were:

  • To develop new knowledge about effective components of community support programmes and professional interventions

  • To transfer this knowledge to professionals of social and mental health services in the three countries, and to teachers from the different universities and professional members of CARe Europe

  • To transfer this knowledge into teaching materials which can be used in bachelor and master programmes at the universities in the different countries.

  • To increase mobility of lecturers, trainers, students and professors across Europe.​


Products of this project are downloadable on PDF here.

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Dirk den Hollander honoured by becoming an officer in the Order of Oranje Nassau by the Dutch King.

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