Peer Support: Beliefs and Ideas

From Wellness Recovery Action Plan and Peer Support: Personal, Group and Program Development by Mary Ellen Copeland and Shery Mead

It is important to notice how our beliefs and ideas affect how we do Peer Support. If we don’t pay attention, we may end up doing to each other what’s been done to us, and we may behave in old ways to get what we need.  If we can learn to stand back from our own perspective and remember that we’ve all had different messages about illness and help, we’ll find that we can build more trusting, healing, and respectful relationships.

Mental Health Language Regular People Language
  • Chronic
  • In Recovery
  • Symptoms
  • Experiences
  • “High/Low Functioning”
  • “Having a good/bad day”
  • Manipulative
  • Strategic
  • “My Client”
  • People I work with
  • Referred to by diagnosis
  • Person
  • “The mentally ill”
  • People
  • Non-compliant
  • Not in agreement with me
  • Treatment resistant
  • Considering other options
  • Safety
  • Feeling supported enough to try new things
  • Decompensate
  • Having a bad day

Practice transforming these statements to fit with the Peer Support model.

  • “The consumers in my program are unmotivated.”

Instead I could say ___________________________________________

  • “Maybe I should call the crisis line for you…”

Instead I could say ___________________________________________

  • “Staff here are more recovered than members.”

Instead I could say ___________________________________________

  • “She’s fragile/in crisis.”

Instead I could say ___________________________________________

  • “Staff should have good boundaries and never give out their home phone numbers.”

Instead I could say ___________________________________________

  • “No one ever wants to help me.”

Instead I could say ___________________________________________

  • “We don’t take calls regarding suicidal feelings, call Crisis.”

Instead I could say ___________________________________________

Some possible responses:

  • People here have been taught to have low expectations.
  • How can I support you in doing what you need to do?
  • We’re all working on our recovery and we all have good and bad days.
  • She has survived a lot and will get through this tough time.
  • It is good to figure out where and when to set limits.
  • I feel pretty isolated.
  • I’m a little scared about what’s going on for you, how can we figure this out together?

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