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I loved Stephanie’s ability to share her real story. She was vulnerable and honest and provided an opportunity to hear the shifting story of working within the mental health and SUD field. For so many years the focus has been on providing support and “managing symptoms/illness” and with the inclusion of peers it seems as though there is a real movement towards empowerment and believing truly that those who struggle are the expert in their own recovery and have a tremendous capacity to support others who share similar struggles.
I am so grateful that as time has passed we are moving more away from this “power over” model of treatment and learning more to sit with people while they write their own destiny. As we step out of that “expert” role and allow opportunities for connection among peers we are creating a truly compassionate community for people to heal.
Here at the treatment program we spend a great deal of time focusing on the connection to others as a means of support and to learn from one another better coping skills and grace for the journey of recovery. We work to expose the clients to peers as part of our model and encourage communication that involves compassionate listening versus giving unsolicited advice. Creating a space that is safe for all to share regardless of experiences allows community members to see themselves in one another and find comradery in the journey to include all of the highs and lows.
For me, the most impactful part of the training was the focus on peer connection. I have been working for some time to implement a peer structure that is sustainable and offers the opportunity for social capital that is so important in the recovery process. I also think that the focus on development of goals that are truly generated by the client and not as a means of satisfying licensing requirements allows an opportunity for connection between counselor and client, as well as meaningful goals that the client believes will have a positive impact on their recovery was helpful as well.