The clubhouse as a psycho-social model for community psychiatric rehabilitation hasspread around the world. Yet, if the clubhouse model is to be meaningful and replicated indifferent cultures, a greater flexibility and/or reinterpretation of the “clubhouse” is needed.This article examines the practices of peer support in Taiwanese clubhouses within thecontext of a self-help movement for the family members of persons with mental illness.Two ways of understanding the clubhouse are identified: the clubhouse as a model and theclubhouse as a set of guiding principles. Historically, families have been the primarycarers for the mentally ill in Taiwan and in the wave of democratization after 1987 familymembers became the driving force for collective action. The professional domination over family members’ associations divided the self-help movement into professionally led groups and anti-psychiatric groups; it also led to different interpretations of the clubhouseand of peer support. The professionally led group understands the clubhouse as a modeland defines “peer” as a process of becoming through staff and members working together.The autonomous and psychiatrically skeptical groups understand the clubhouse as a set of guiding principles and define “peers” as persons with shared experiences. In both cases,the clubhouse has served as an alternative to the domination of Western privilege and medical discourse. Adopting a Foucaultian approach, this article provides a historicalaccount of how clubhouse ideas are understood in Taiwan today.
International Journal of Self-Help and Self-Care, 7(2), 167-192