Contribution of experiential knowledge to recovery-oriented mental health care (GGZ)

Experiential knowledge in mental health care is on the rise. This is when care providers make use of their personal experience in a professional manner toward the recovery of their clients. Among other things, professional and ‘code of conduct’ regulations, as well as negative perception often get in the way of optimally utilising this expertise. Current PhD research project aims to study and strengthen the professional use of experiential knowledge  within mental healthcare (GGZ).


The aims of this PhD  research project are:

  • To study and strengthen the professional use of experiential knowledge within mental healthcare. Professionals using their experiential knowledge often find creative solutions, are able to provide encouragement based on their own experience and can help reduce the stigma around psychiatric problems. This research project examines the relational-ethical shifts that take place during the implementation of experiential knowledge, as well as the significance thereof.
  • To contribute to the development of the theory and the value of experiential knowledge.
  • To professionalize experiential knowledge and improve its durability within the daily practice and professional innovation of mental healthcare.
  • To enrich the degree programmes in the field of Social Work with new insights about experiential knowledge.


This research is a follow-up study, in which we studied and trained professionals while using their experiential knowledge. This provided a number of interesting insights. It became apparent that 45% of the healthcare professionals we surveyed had personal experience with mental healthcare. They also indicated that they wished to utilize this experience in their work, but did not always know how to combine their personal experience with their role as a professional. Clients generally responded well to care providers who included their personal experience. But there is a considerable lack of understanding within organisations concerning this new role, especially among academic practitioners with (psychiatrists and psychologists).

You can read more about our interim findings in the following article. 


01 March 2019 - 01 March 2023


A growing number of professionals with experiential knowledge are currently employed by healthcare organisations. These healthcare professionals need further validation of their new role, as well as further training and practical tools to be able to adequately utilise their experiential knowledge. Our scientific research consists of a systematic literature review as well as a practical component. Qualitative participative research is conducted at three levels in the organisation:

  • among professionals and their colleagues
  • among clients
  • at an organizational level

HU researchers involved in the research

Related research groups

Collaboration with knowledge partners

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Maaike Hajer is professor within the research group Multilingualism and Education

Maaike Hajer

  • Professor
  • Research group: Multilingualism and Education