Peer Support: The Three “E’s” and Four “R’s” of TIC

Trauma-informed care requires for staff at all levels of trauma-informed services to recognize the presence of trauma symptoms and acknowledge the role that trauma plays in the lives of survivors. “SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach,” has coined two mnemonic devices as part of a framework to aid in administering trauma informed care.

Do’s and Don’ts of Peer Support

Peer supporters serve to guide their peers toward the many pathways to recovery. They do not endorse any specific way of achieving or maintaining sobriety, abstinence, or serenity or of reducing the negative effects from substance use disorders. Since peer supporters are non-clinical staff who often work in a clinical setting, peer support remains as an ambiguous role for many service providers. Understanding the characteristics of peer support is imperative so that the unique value of peer support is not squandered by providers who view peer supporters as case managers.

What is Peer Support?

Having a peer supporter on your team is like having a partner in recovery who is there to validate your experience and walk with you through the dross of institutionalized oppression and misconception. The main thing that sets peer workers apart from the medical treatment team is that peer workers uphold the basic understanding that each person is the expert in their own lives and should thus be in charge of their own recovery. The peer supporter’s role is to assist people with finding and following their own recovery paths, without judgment, expectation, rules, or requirements.

Peer Support: What is Trauma Informed Care?

Trauma informed care is centered on the basic understanding that most people who seek mental health and addiction services have experienced some form of trauma in their lives. The trauma informed approach attempts to eliminate retraumatization in the healthcare settings by implementing a culture of trauma awareness across all levels of the clinical and organizational structure.

Peer Support: Principles of Trauma Informed Care

One of SAMHSA’s 10 Guiding Principles of Recovery is that “recovery is supported by addressing trauma.” Trauma informed care is thus an intrinsic aspect of peer support. Understanding a person’s situation, both past and present, is critical for providing trauma informed supports. A peer worker’s ability to share lived experience and validate peer feelings, perceptions and experiences is often more of a healing process for people in recovery than the rigid and controlling therapy programs that are thrust upon people seeking help.

Intentional Peer Support: Space in Relationships

Providing a safe space in the peer relationship is a refreshing approach toward connecting with another person. Rather than thinking about what you want to say, or trying to read another person’s thoughts, IPS encourages us to think of the relational space between peers as an active, alive space where two people make an effort to listen and respond to each other in a meaningful way.

Characteristics of Peer Supporters

Interpersonal skills are essential for success in peer work. Peer support is centered on forming relationships and engaging individuals in their own pathway to recovery. The following are some characteristics that help peer supporters communicate with others so they feel understood and heard:

Strengths of Peer Support

Peer support is more than just a profession, it is a revolution that has only just begun. The movement was driven by consumers of mental health services since its infancy and continues to advance through widespread support from service users, advocates, families, and communities. Peer support workers are powerful role models, mentors and advocates who inspire hope in those with whom they work, while fighting the good fight against the deficit-based medical paradigm.

Pulling it Together (Journal Entry)

I’ve been holding back on posting anything on social media for the past seven months or so. I was debating whether to post anything at all, but since I’m back on my poetry kick lately I guess it couldn’t hurt to write a quick update about where I’m at in this point of my recovery.

Psychiatry is shaking us like snow globes (Journal Entry)

What happens when you shake a snow globe? A whirlwind disseminates around whatever masterpiece lies beneath. And as that masterpiece awaits patiently to be revealed, the shaker continues to shake and shake and shake, as though chaos is more amusing than art.