BACKGROUND: Illness Management and Recovery (IMR) is a standardized curriculum-based intervention to help people with serious mental illnesses acquire knowledge and skills to manage their illnesses effectively and achieve personal recovery goals. Recent evaluations of IMR have shown promising results with regard to feasibility and effectiveness. OBJECTIVES: The aim of the present study was to investigate and describe (1) whether participants perceived IMR as effective a year after completion, (2) if so, in what domains did they experience the IMR program to be beneficial, and, (3) in what ways did the IMR program differ from prior rehabilitation interventions they had experienced. METHOD: 36 people with serious mental illnesses completed the Narrative Evaluation of Intervention Interview (NEII), a year after completing IMR. Qualitative analysis of the interviews involved two judges independently identifying themes. Inter-rater reliability ranged from .63 to 1.00. RESULTS: Participants reported high levels of perceived helpfulness. Three domains of improvement attributed to IMR included cognition, coping, and social support. With regard to the uniqueness of the IMR intervention, five categories emerged: Learning new information, social support, coping and self management, program structure, and message of hope. CONCLUSIONS: The positive impact of IMR reported in previous studies lasts as long as a year. Domains of reported improvement partially overlap with outcomes reported in previous studies. IMR is perceived to differ in several ways from other psychiatric rehabilitation interventions, both in technique as well as in message.