What is a Peer?
Someone with lived, personal experience of behavioral health issues, including mental illness, addiction, developmental disabilities, Alzheimer’s and related dementia, and similar challenges. A primary caretaker of someone with these experiences is also often defined as a peer
What is organized, deliberate, intentional peer support?
There are three kinds of organized or intentional peer support:
vocational training and job placement, and companionship - provided as peers to peers, without judgment or disrespect.
3) Inspiration and education about recovery, including: wellness stories and tools, an expectation of recovery, as well as trainings in advocacy, self empowerment, recovery tools, best business practices, peer employment and peer support work.
1) Specific, set aside time to talk and listen with a peer or peers, either one on one, or in a support group. This involves and depends on natural or trained skills of being with, listening, facing fears, sharing common experience, mutuality, giving respect, encouraging intimacy and opening, learning from each other, allowing empowerment, and co-discovering strengths, goals and next steps.
2) Practical, concrete support, such as meals, rides, housing, financial assistance, clothes, outings,
What makes peer operated, peer support organizations different than other behavioral health social service organizations? Aren’t they all trying to make a positive difference in their communities?
Yes, most social service organizations are working to make a positive difference in their clients lives, and many are quite effective and do wonderful work in their communities around Alaska. Peer operated organizations are the same, yet their staff offer an additional component of support: rather than only a professional interest in behavioral health issues, peers have a personal, lived experience of recovery in their own lives. This gives them a unique and highly valuable perspective to share, a vital gift of inspiration to offer, a flexible holistic approach to wellness, and, often, a frank fearlessness and faith that empowers recovery.
How do I start a group?
There are numerous online resources and information about starting support groups, but it is really very simple: find a small group of people who want to talk to each other on a regular basis, create some guidelines and/or group goals together, and begin. You may start with two or three people. Learning to share the details of your lives with another in an effective and empowering way is a knack that one can learn through training in facilitation skills and listening and support skills. Contact The Consortium for more information.
How do I join the AK Peer Support Consortium?
If you are a peer support group, or wish to start a peer support group, then you may join the Consortium. You do not have to be an official organization. Membership and travel to meetings and trainings is free. Contact AKPSC at (907) 258-2772 or Nicole Bowman, Program Assistant, at nicole.bowman @akpeersupport.org for more information.