Work As Therapy


A large body of clinical evidence suggests that meaningful work facilitates rehabilitation and recovery. It promotes full participation in society, independence and human rights.

The UK Social Exclusion Unit (2004) found that work has the potential to deliver two of the core precepts central to mental healthcare for people with severe mental illness-social inclusion and recovery

Waddell and Burton (2006) cite meaningful work as the most effective means to improving the well-being of individuals, their families and their communities. Drawing from an extensive body of evidence, they present a theoretical framework of work and psychological well-being, where work

  • is central to identity, social roles and social status
  • is a significant driver of social gradient in mental health
  • meets important psychosocial needs in societies where employment is the norm
  • is essential to earning independent income, intrinsic to self-worth and full social participation

Work can, and has been, incorporated into clinical psychology. For example, clinical trials found that a combined intervention of CBT and work-place participation yielded a quicker reintegration into work than CBT alone (Blonk, Brenninkmeirjer, Lagerveld & Houtman, 2006).