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 as well as a personal wellness plan are essential to assure that they take care of themselves and receive the type of support that allows them to continue to help others. It is important that existing staff be provided with a clear understanding of the roles of the peer specialists and how they will interact with the team. It is equally important that the peer worker have a clearly defined job description and can work with a supervisor who is adequately familiar with peer support and the specific type of work they peers will be providing. Peer support supervision is not peer support, but it is supportive. It is highly advisable that peers are not employed in agencies where they are the only peer support worker. If there is a minimum of two peer staff, they can support each other and share strategies. If there are more peers working within the agency, it is advantageous for them to form a mutual support group to process any barriers they may encounter. Self-care and accessing support is an important part of many peer support specialist trainings. Many trainings include Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), a valuable tool for both those receiving peer support and those providing it.

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