My major research interest has been self-help/mutual aid groups and organizations and their spinoffs and offshoots such as social model recovery programs, recovery residences, peer support, mental health consumer/survivor-run organizations, and the process of recovery. As a sociologist I am interested not only in their characteristics and effectiveness but also in the organizational and small group features that sustain them over the long run.
Experiential knowledge or the authority of one’s lived experience as valid knowledge is the concept for which I am best known beginning with the publication --- T. Borkman (1976). Experiential Knowledge: A New Concept for the Analysis of Self-Help Group, Social Service Review, 50 (September): 445-456. I have been honored with two lifetime achievement awards
from professional associations (SCRA-Society for Community Research and Action, Division 29 of the American Psychological Association and ARNOVA-Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action) for my work developing and applying the concept of experiential knowledge. My 1999 book (Understanding Self-Help Mutual Aid: Experiential Learning in the Commons) summarizes well my major insights about self-help support groups.
While I retired as a professor teaching for 32 years at George Mason University in 2007, I continue my research and consultation at a slower pace. Several job experiences relevant to mysocial model recovery research have been:
• Co-investigator, What is Recovery?, NIAAA Grant. Associate Scientist, Alcohol Research Group, Emeryville, California, 2010-2014.
• Research Consultant, SHARE! the Self-Help And Recovery Exchange, LA, CA,2009-2015.
• Consultant, Social Model Alcohol Program Evaluation Project, Alcohol Research Group,
Berkeley, Calif., 1995-1998.
• Consultant, California Department of Alcohol & Drug Programs, 1985-98; See 1986 report Borkman, T. Alcohol Services Reporting System Revision Study, Calif. Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs.
• Visiting Research Fellow, NIAAA, Rockville, MD, 1978-1980. See monograph Borkman, T. A Social-Experiential Model in Programs for Alcoholism Recovery: A Research Report on a New Treatment Design. Rockville, MD: NIAAA, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, DHHS Publ. No. (ADM) 83-1259, 1983.
My formal education was in sociology with a Ph.D. and M.A. from Columbia University in New York City and B.A. from Occidental College in Los Angeles.