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6 stages of Metahabilitation

Stage One:
Acute Recovery

Stage Two:
Turning Point – Saying ‘Yes’ to Life

Stage Three:
Focus on Treatment – Conventional and Complementary

Stage Four:
Acceptance and Adaptation – A Time to Reflect

Stage Five:
Reintegration – Returning to Life; Introspection on Life’s Journey

Stage Six:
MetaHabilitation – Beyond Integration and Taking on the Future

about the originator

Joyce Mikal-Flynn holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from the University of San Francisco, a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) credential from the University of California, Davis, a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) from Sacramento State University, and a Doctor of Education from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California. She practiced as a Family Nurse Practitioner for over 25 years and held faculty positions at: University of California, Davis, Touro University, and Samuel Merritt College. Currently. Dr. Mikal-Flynn is a Professor at Sacramento State University in the School of Nursing.

Instructional and research focus: Trauma Informed Care and Neuroscience. Dr. Mikal-Flynn’s academic, research and clinical concentration involves trauma and use of Metahabilitation©  as a clinical pathway to support resilience and guide one toward growth post-trauma. She also lectures on two facets of neuroscience; gender differences in the brain and exercise and brain health.

Areas of research: Survivorship, Resilience and Growth Post (After)Trauma

Discouraged with current rehabilitation models, her doctoral research focused on developing and organizing a new model promoting a more productive and positive recovery process. Her research lead to Metahabilitation, a philosophy and system of recovery and rehabilitation promoting posttraumatic growth (PTG). This initial work was followed by the publication of her book: Turning Tragedy Into Triumph. Metahabilitation; A Contemporary Model of Rehabilitation. Her ongoing research and writing focuses on recovery, survivorship and posttraumatic growth in several areas utilizing and promoting metahabilitation in clinical areas including chronic illnesses, PTSD, athletes post participation, oncology, addiction and dependency. She presents nationally and internationally including professional conferences in Hong Kong; Cardiff, Wales; Belfast, Ireland, Cambridge, UK and Barcelona, Spain. Several peer-reviewed published articles by Dr. Mikal-Flynn appear in national and international publications. Besides her book, she published a workbook for survivors, one focused on family and friends used in metahabilitation workshops. Additionally, she created a Wellness Journal designed to promote overall mental health and wellness.  Finally, a clinician manual is used in her training workshops and certification courses.

what is MetaHabilitation

Individuals experience crisis when the estimation of resources needed to successfully manage trauma, crisis or a catastrophic situation are greater than resources perceived available. Current biomedical models of rehabilitation and recovery are insufficient. They fail to focus on and incorporate the individual’s capacity for survival and utilization of prior successful experiences with trauma in the therapeutic planning for their recovery, rehabilitation and growth potential post trauma.

Metahabilitation©, a recovery philosophy and system, recognizes the individual’s capacity and promotes each person’s biological, psychological and spiritual ability to survive but, more importantly, to grow, to be transformed and experience a higher level of functioning brought about by life crisis, trauma, even catastrophe. These events become opportunities for survivors to creatively restructure one’s self, find meaning in their suffering, diminishing fear and frustration by recognizing their ability to turn personal tragedy into triumph (Viktor Frankl; Man’s Search for Meaning).

Extensive research, literary review and interviews with survivors and their families revealed insights into this concept. Troubling and unacceptable limitations in current rehab and recovery models provided the rationale and motivation for Metahabilitation, a system or clinical pathway guiding one toward a more productive outcome after trauma. Stages, characteristics and facilitating conditions of metahabilitated survivors were discovered supporting this system and emphasizing a potential additive effect – suggesting its utilization in conjunction with other recovery models and methods to support growth post-trauma.

definition of MetaHabilitation

Meta, from the Greek meta, means after or ‘beyond’. Habilitate refers to ability; to make one capable. Rehabilitation means to restore, to reinstate one’s former ability and/or life. The word metahabilitation combines these words signifying and recognizing an individual’s ability, their capacity to surpass or exceed - to move beyond restoration following a challenge, trauma or crisis.

Metahabilitation began as a concept, developing into a model and finally a system or pathway to recovery that acknowledges the severity of a traumatic event, with its unimaginable spectrum of physical, psychological and spiritual pain, but promotes the survivor’s ultimate mastery over that pain, recognizing their abilities and inner strength for survival and ultimately, for growth after trauma and crisis. The event is a moment of before and after, a pivotal point. Metahabilitation uses that point to build on the human capacity to endure and survive, but more importantly, to thrive; not in spite of the trauma or crisis, but as a direct result of the experience.


I have developed six assumptions to elaborate and clarify the concepts supporting Metahabilitation©, a system to promote and guide posttraumatic growth. They are adapted from Tom Greening’s 1964 work on "The Five Basic Postulates of Humanistic Psychology."

  1. Major traumas, personal life crises and catastrophic events all disrupt an individual’s status quo. Adjustments of biological homeostasis and self-concept are required in order to effectively address the disequilibrium.

  2. Such profound life experiences provide human beings opportunities for significant physical, intellectual and spiritual growth and development.

  3. Human beings possess the ability to adapt and ultimately become stronger when faced with severe disruption or danger to their homeostasis.

  4. Humans have the potential and capacity for this resilience.

  5. Evidence of it is found extensively in the evolutionary and biophysical world.

  6. Human beings innately are or can become goal-oriented, possessing an awareness of their power to influence events, seek meaning and creatively reconstruct their future.

Direct utilization of this model and system requires a review of the stages, characteristics and facilitating conditions.

  • Six Stages of MetaHabilitation

  • Personal Characteristics of the Metahabilitated Survivor

  • Facilitating Conditions: Support for Metahabilitation

For questions and comments, feel free to contact elizabeth@metahab.com.