© 2018, © Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationships between clinicians’ and managers’ risk aversion and a range of variables related to the implementation of the Collaborative Recovery Model (CRM). Positive risk taking is an integral component of the recovery process. Clinicians’ risk aversion has the potential to negatively impact on their implementation of recovery-oriented practices. The CRM provides an evidence-based framework to assist consumers to participate in the recovery process. However, there is a need for research to clarify the factors related to recovery that have impact on managers’ and clinicians’ risk aversion, and ultimately on implementation of recovery practices. Design/methodology/approach: A cross-sectional survey assessed clinicians’ (n=174) and managers’ (n=48) risk aversion and their self-reported learning experiences, commitment to using CRM, goal setting attitudes and CRM implementation behaviour. Findings: Clinicians who reported more risk aversion were significantly more likely to report positive attitudes towards goal setting. Stepwise regression revealed that training experiences, goal setting attitudes and commitment to CRM significantly predicted an increase in CRM implementation. Over and above this, risk aversion predicted a small but significant increase in the self-reported use of CRM. Managers experienced significantly less risk aversion than clinicians, with a negative relationship between risk aversion and commitment to CRM principles. Originality/value: This paper suggests that clinicians’ risk aversion impacts upon their implementation of the CRM, with managers less risk averse than clinicians.