What do we do if, while providing peer support, the Certified Peer Specialist encounters a “trigger” that creates stress that may represent a danger to their own wellness?

Anyone working in behavioral health, whether identified as a “peer” or not, may encounter situations that can be highly stressful and “trigger” problematic responses. Good supervision is essential, as well as a personal wellness plan, to assure that they take care of themselves and receive the type of support that allows them to continue to help others. In setting up a peer support program, it is important that agencies follow a few important steps. First, existing and new staff members need a clear understanding of what the role of a peer specialist is and how they will interact with other staff members before the peers are brought in as part of the team. Supervisors should be very familiar with the principles of peer support and the specific type of peer support being provided. There are a number of peer support supervision trainings available around the country. Peer support supervision is not peer support but it is supportive. A very important element of introducing peer support into a practice is that it is not a good idea to employ only one peer specialist. If a minimum of two peers join the team, they are able to support each other as an extension of their role in supporting the people for whom they provide services. In provider agencies employing more than two peers, they frequently set up their own support group which allows them to process any barriers they may encounter and share strategies. Self-care and mutual support is an important part of peer support specialist trainings. Many trainings include Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), a valuable tool for both those receiving support and those providing it. For more information on WRAP, please visit this page.

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