Judi Chamberlin devoted much of her life to the fight for collaboration in therapy and other types of mental health care, a struggle which has yielded much higher rates of client involvement in their own care. Sometimes taken for granted by modern clients, this acceptance and encouragement of collaboration was largely absent in the experiences of many clients in the mid-20th century, including Chamberlin herself. After discovering that she was unable to leave a hospital of her own volition after voluntarily checking herself in for depression, Chamberlin began working in support of people with mental health difficulties and formed her own advocacy organizations in tandem with professional work at Boston University.
Chamberlin inspired many others to participate in advocacy and create effective social and charity groups, and was hailed by her peers as a strong person intent on spreading what she described as “mad pride”–the idea that people with mental health concerns were equal to others and deserved equal rights. The advocate died Saturday in her Massachusetts home amongst her friends and family, successfully avoiding an unwanted transfer to a nursing home. She had participated in international advocacy programs, traveling around the world in support of mental health clients and proper care even while battling lung disease in her last few months of life.
Efforts to encourage collaboration among mental health professionals and create policies that respect this important principle continue, and Chamberlin’s personal experience with the power of self-involvement in care has had a profound influence over modern attitudes about this industry ideal. While many in the mental health field will likely go on to champion new accomplishments in therapy, counseling, and other treatments aware of their debt to the woman, scores of modern mental health clients will receive meaningful, heartfelt care without knowing the story of Chamberlin’s struggle-–but benefiting nevertheless.
© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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