Recovery International (RI) is a peer-led self-help group that teaches techniques to help us change thoughts and behaviors that cause psychological distress. Whether you or someone you know is looking to overcome a specific fear or phobia, are sleepless because of stress or are dealing with depression, anger, obsessive thoughts or compulsions, RI can help.

We provide reassurance and fellowship through meeting friendly people with similar problems who have found a way to live happier, healthier lives. Meetings are open to everyone over the age of 18. There is no charge to attend but we do collect a free will offering.

The most difficult step is coming to that first meeting. Everyone at the meeting is there to improve or maintain their mental health. Each one of them had to summon the courage to walk in that door the first time. And when they did so they learned their first tool, to endorse themselves for their efforts to get well.

The Ames group meets every Thursday evening at 7:30 PM.  The Des Moines group meets every Tuesday at 8:00 PM and the West Des Moines group meets every Thursday at 7:45 PM. For more information about these meetings in the Ames & Des Moines area contact Margot, the Ames meeting organizer.

Recovery International is a program of the non-profit organization Abraham Low Self Help Systems. Please visit the national web site more information on Recovery's tools, stories of hope, and our interactive forum.

Why Recovery Works:

Recovery International (RI) offers a unique Method that was developed by Dr. Abraham Low. Here is a brief description of the RI Method.

1. Cognitive/behavioral techniques

The cognitive/behavioral techniques that were first developed by Dr. Low are now widely used to treat mental illness and have proven to be very effective. Using cognitive/behavioral techniques, we control our thoughts and impulses by changing or rejecting thoughts and stopping or releasing impulses. In Recovery International, we call those techniques “spotting.”

2. Structured self help meeting format that promotes habit formation

The RI meeting format is one of the most important parts of the RI Method. We meet once a week to practice the method and to support and encourage one another. Some people find it helpful to attend more than one meeting per week. This is particularly true when they are first learning the RI method. The format not only helps us learn the Method. It also promotes practice, both during and after the meetings until the techniques we learn become such a habit that we can apply them wherever we are, even in very stressful situations. It is fairly easy to learn why we should change our thoughts and behavior. It is much harder to actually do what we need to do to make it a habit. When we hear and give examples we are practicing using the method - thinking about what causes us to be tense, looking at our symptoms objectively, and using the tools. With enough practice we become skilled in using the Method. It takes patience and perseverance, but it pays off.

3. Special Recovery Language

Its special language also contributes to the success of the Recovery International method.
We are so used to criticizing ourselves that when we are trying to change harmful or unpleasant thoughts, without help, we often replace one harmful thought with another harmful thought. The Recovery language is designed make sure that we replace harmful thoughts with helpful ones.

When you study new fields such as chemistry or using a computer, you have to learn special languages that are unique to that field. The same is true for Recovery, we have our own special meanings for certain terms. This special language is one of our most effective tools. The Recovery language is designed to help us feel safe at our meetings and to help reduce stress in our lives. The Recovery Language helps us feel secure, avoid judgment of right and wrong and promotes harmony in the group.

4. Emphasis on self endorsement

Endorsement is one of Recovery’s terms. Endorsement is like a mental pat on the back. We recognize ourselves for the effort we are making not for the result. So even if things do not turn out the way we hoped, we still endorse because we tried. We know if we keep trying we will eventually succeed.
We enjoy, but do not need endorsement from other people. In fact, if we do not endorse ourselves we do not believe the endorsement we get from others.

5. A group minded approach

While our mental health has to be our supreme goal, we cannot achieve mental health unless we function well with the people around us. Recovery is exceptionally good at helping people function in groups - including families, work, and social life.

Recovery International was the first group to teach that recovery from mental illness is possible. We can all get well.


Can we Help You?

The Recovery International Method helps people manage feelings or impulses which impair the ability to live a normal life. These feelings and impulses include:

Anger Management
Attention deficit disorder
Bipolar disorder
Borderline personality disorder
Conflict resolution
Eating disorders
Feelings of low self worth
Mood disorders
Obsessive compulsive disorder
Panic attacks
Poor self image
Schizoaffective disorder
Sleep problems
Social anxiety
Social phobia
Suicidal tendencies
Substance abuse

About Recovery International:

Our founder, Abraham Low MD, was trained in both neurology and psychiatry. Working with the patients at the University of Illinois Medical School he developed a new method for treating his patients and created an organization designed to teach the method to others. They called their new organization Recovery, Inc. .  Once it was functioning well, he turned the organization over to the members making it the first peer to peer mental health organization in the country.

In 2007, Recovery, Incorporated changed its name to Recovery International and a year later merged with the Abraham Low Institute to become one of the programs in the Abraham Low Self-Help Systems. The other programs are the Power to Change (a program for teenagers) and RI Discovery, a variation of the original Recovery International.  The Abraham Low Self-Help Systems website is at

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Founded Jan 24, 2012

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