Clubhouses are built upon the belief that every member has the potential to sufficiently recover from the effects of mental illness to lead a personally satisfying life as an integrated member of society. Clubhouses are communities of people who are dedicated to one another’s success, no matter how long it takes or how difficult it is. Clubhouses are organised around a belief that work, and work- mediated relationships, are restorative and provide a firm foundation for growth and important individual achievement (Beard, Propst, Malamud, 1982), and the belief that normalised social and recreational opportunities are an important part of a person’s path to recovery.
The Clubhouse environment and structures are developed in a way to ensure that there is ample opportunity for human interaction and that there is more than enough work to do. Clubhouse staffing levels are purposefully kept low to create a perpetual need for the involvement of the members in order to accomplish their jobs. Members also need the staff and other members in order to complete the work, but even more importantly, the relationships that evolve through this work together are the key ingredient in Clubhouse rehabilitation. (Vorspan, 1986). The Clubhouse members and staff as a community are charged with prioritising, organising and accomplishing the tasks that are important to make the Clubhouse a success. Relationships between members and staff develop naturally as they work together side by side carrying out the daily duties of the Clubhouse. All of the staff have generalist roles in the Clubhouse; they are involved in all of the Clubhouse activities including the daily work duties, the evening social and recreational programs, the employment programs, reach out, supported education and community support responsibilities. Members and staff share the responsibility for the successful operation of the Clubhouse. Working closely together each day, members and staff learn of each others’ strengths, talents and abilities. They also develop real and lasting friendships. Because the design of a Clubhouse is much like a typical work or business environment, relationships develop in much the same way. The role of the staff in a Clubhouse is not to educate or treat the members. The staff are there to engage with members as colleagues in important work and to be encouraging and engaging with people who might not yet believe in themselves. Clubhouse staff are charged with being colleagues, workers, talent scouts and cheerleaders.