The New Jersey Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association presented SERV with a 2007 Wellness and Recovery Transformation Award for the agency's "willingness to challenge the status quo and embrace profound change."

"This is a very high honor for us, and we are all very excited about it," said Gary van Nostrand, president and CEO. "What makes it so rewarding is that it is recognition for achieving a goal. We knew when we set out to do this that it would be a monumental task."

The Wellness and Recovery philosophy empowers mental health consumers by giving them strong input into planning and carrying out their treatment. SERV began discussing the transformation approximately three years ago. UMDNJ's Integrated Employment Institute was enlisted to help, and the effort was under way for SERV to become partners with its residents.

"We continue to refine our approach," said Mr. van Nostrand. "We have been very encouraged by the response of our residents. We are seeing that they are very willing to take ownership of their treatment plans and insist on changes they view as beneficial to their improvement."