Our History

Founded In 1975, the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (PRA) and its members developed and defined the practice of psychiatric rehabilitation, establishing these services as integral to community-based treatment and leading the recovery movement.

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In the early 1970s, the directors of the original 13 Psychosocial Rehabilitation Centers met to discuss the establishment of an association for advancing the practice of psychosocial/psychiatric rehabilitation services (PSR). These founders envisioned an international association that would promote optimistic strengths-based and community-based services for persons with severe and persistent mental illnesses. Each director was personally committed to improving and promoting the practice and outcomes of psychiatric rehabilitation, and each deeply believed that an association was needed to reflect their commitment. In 1974, the International Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services (IAPSRS) was incorporated as a nonprofit in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Word spread of the outcomes being achieved and universities started to integrate rehabilitation principles and practices into their curricula. In 1982, the association and the Sargent College Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University entered into a partnership to co-publish Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, providing a platform for researchers to publish findings and, thereby, building the evidence base for psychiatric rehabilitation practices.

As psychosocial rehabilitation methods were being applied in other mental health settings and validated by research institutions, a standard of best practice emerged. IAPSRS fostered the efforts of these early pioneers, and collectively developed a code of ethics, recovery language guidelines, and core principles and values for psychiatric rehabilitation, establishing these services as integral to community-based treatment.

In 1996, a Registry of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioners was established as the predecessor to the Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP) credential. Until this time, there had been a rich tradition of mentoring and agency training in the field. However, with an ever increasing number of self-identified practitioners, a more formal method of ensuring the quality and effectiveness of psychiatric rehabilitation practitioners was necessary.

As the practice of psychiatric rehabilitation took hold in Canada, it was evident that a national entity was needed to work within Canada’s socialized funding environment. In 2004, the International Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation (IAPSRS) officially changed its name to the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (USPRA) and the Psychosocial Rehabilitation Canada/Réadaptation Psychosociale Canada (PSR/RPS Canada) was born.

In 2013, the association crystallized the organization’s mission to “Growing and Training the Recovery Workforce” and became the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (PRA), removing the limiting factor of geography. PRA believes the new name will:

  • Expand and deliver on the association’s “Brand Promise”
  • Ensure ongoing quality of and investment in an expanding credentialing program
  • Seize a leadership role in the provision of career-spanning education and training offerings

Today, PRA is the preeminent non-profit for growing and training the recovery workforce. The diverse membership of PRA includes agencies, practitioners, families and persons living with psychiatric disabilities, leaders in psychiatric rehabilitation education and research from major universities across the United States and the world, as well as state and federal government entities dedicated to improving outcomes in a cost-effective, evidenced-based and highly successful model.

For more than 30 years and with nearly 1,300 members, PRA is the leading psychiatric rehabilitation organization.

Original 13 Founders: 

Jerry Dincin, Thresholds (Chicago, IL)
Lois Evey, Council House (later Renaissance Center)
Samuel Grob, Center House (Boston, MA)
Julius Lanoil, The Club (Piscataway, NJ)
Chris MacFadden, Forward House (Montreal, Canada)
Marshall Rubin, Fellowship House (Miami, FL)
Irv Rutman, Horizon House (Philadelphia, PA)
James Schmidt, Fountain House (New York City, NY)
David Shiel, Stairways (Erie, PA)
Donald Springer, Friendship House (Hackensack, NJ)
Florence Strindberg, Prospect House (East Orange, NJ)
Henry Tanaka, Hill House (Cleveland, OH)
Marvin Weinstein, Portals (Los Angeles, CA)
Past Presidents Years
Irv Rutman 1975 - 1980
Jerry Dincin 1980 - 1982
Hank Tanaka 1982 - 1984
Vera Mellen 1984 - 1986
Michael Donham 1986 - 1988
Marshall Rubin 1988 - 1990
Carolyn Peterson 1990 - 1992
John Woods 1992 - 1994
Nancy Jo Melise 1994 - 1996
Scott Graham 1996 - 1998
Donald Naranjo 1998 - 2000
Mary Alice Brown 2000 - 2002
Anita Pernell- Arnold 2002 - 2004
Eileen Joseph 2004 - 2006
Phil Floyd 2006 - 2008
Thomas Updike 2008 - 2010
Peter Ashenden 2010 - 2012
Lisa Razzano 2012 - 2014