“Nothing about me, without me”: Participatory action research with self-help/mutual aid organizations

Nelson, G., Ochocka, J., Griffin, K., & Lord, J. (1998). “Nothing about me, without me”: Participatory action research with self-help/mutual aid organizations for psychiatric consumer/survivors. American journal of community psychology, 26(6), 881-912.

The authors seek to find similarities and common values between participatory research and mutual aid with an aim of making recommendations on the methodology and importance of doing participatory research through mutual aid groups in future. The article starts by giving historical backgrounds of participatory research and action research as methods of research. It also outlines the values in participatory research such as empowerment, supportive relationships, social change and learning as an on-going process. The authors then focus on mutual aid organizations for psychiatric survivors/ consumers with specific examples in Canada. Their main argument, from their study, is that there is compatibility in the assumptions and values which underlie participatory action research and mutual aid organizations approaches to research and action. Recommendations such as use of research steering committees to promote consumer/ survivor empowerment in the research process and encouraging the development of authentic and supportive relationships by researchers are given.

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