Reply To: Homework Week 4 (Wellness and Recovery Promotion)

Patty Morini

• What are your general reactions to Stephanie’s personal narrative?
I am moved by her intentional sharing of her experience and her willingness to proceed at Brown to make it a safe place for all. Such courage to forge on and see both the value to her own recovery by reaching out to her peers for help and to be a peer supporter herself. As well, to improve conditions at Brown so others may find a way.
• What are your thoughts on the difference between the medical model, pathology-based approach and a person-driven, recovery-oriented approach to helping as embodied by a peer recovery support approach that Stephanie describes in her story?
Person-driven approaches provide individuals with an open arena to explore themselves and connect themselves to others. The word autonomy comes to mind. Talk about a system that might give someone hope that they were not the only one, not alone in this, not damaged goods, able to take the next step for themselves. Naming what is going on is so different than labeling the person. Is there a place for medical? When the prescription pad comes out before other exploration, we are completely separating the human form from their lived experiences, emotions, spirit. Sure, medications might be useful for some people – whether it is cancer or an inability to keep oneself safe. Pathologizing seems to cast a shadow on everything else about a person. We are doing humanity no good by encouraging them to think that a medication is what is going to make a long term difference in their lives.
Meeting and learning from those who have lived experience reinforces the human connection in so many potentially healing and useful ways.
• What are some strategies you have or would use to link consumers to peer recovery support services in your community and develop collaborative relationships with peer specialists?
If I were working with a consumer professionally, we could discuss and explore the resources available in the community, provided in this class. Respecting the anonymity in self-help does not have to be a barrier to trying to make a warm handoff. In a recovery plan we could identify steps to making connections, discuss the individual’s thoughts, fears, ideas about whether and how to go about pursuing them. Following up incrementally – mindful / narrative writing before, during, after the experience. Not moving too fast.
• Take a moment to reflect on the course material over the past four weeks and the new insights you have gained about wellness and recovery promotion. How do you envision bringing these new insights into your work with consumers?
One of the things that I’m most mindful of right now is how some therapists, for example, function in a vacuum. I’ve met too many people who have never been to an open self-help meeting as a guest, for example. Giving someone a local self-help meeting brochure does not a connection make. I am more aware thanks to this course about how we tend to describe people as their diagnosis. “Diabetic patients”, “Alcoholics”, “Chronic self-harmers”…and the dreaded “she’s a Borderline, what do you expect?” We are not seeing anyone when they are shrouded with a label. I feel our system can tend to make a crisis into an experience that takes away an opportunity to reach someone.
I need to make more of a habit of exploring what is out there – both in the community where I work, as well as on line. I want to talk more with peer advocates, visit advocacy centers and engage with folks living the experience of recovery. It is an investment in my work, in the people I work with – just like keeping up with my continuing education.