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The Transition House Blog

Peer support specialists: Using lived experience to help others

Posted by Jennifer Dellasanta on May 14, 2020 1:36:04 PM

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On your road to recovery from mental health and substance use disorders, you’ll encounter many people who become integral parts of your care. Perhaps one of the individuals you’ll meet and most closely relate to is a peer support specialist.

Peer support specialists take on many roles, but one of their most important jobs is to use their lived experience of mental illness and/or substance abuse to support you as you transition to a healthier and more productive lifestyle.

What is peer support?

A peer is anyone who you relate to or with whom you share a common experience. You might consider your classmates or coworkers your peers.

In addiction treatment or therapy, a peer is someone with whom you might share a mental health diagnosis or who has been through the same recovery program you’re going through.

Peer support is when a peer helps you to navigate your treatment and make healthy choices. As someone who has been in your shoes, their encouragement can help you to keep going when it gets tough.

What is a peer support specialist?

A peer support specialist is sometimes called a certified peer specialist, a recovery support specialist, a peer recovery support specialist, or a peer provider. These are people who are certified by your state’s certification board to provide support to people who are receiving treatment for a mental health condition or who are in a recovery program for addiction.

Peer support specialists can work in counseling centers, a primary care physician’s office, a hospital setting, and anywhere that provides mental health treatment services. 

What does a peer support specialist do?

Peer support specialists have a variety of roles and responsibilities. They can help you with:

  • Finding a treatment program
  • Setting clear goals
  • Navigating your own recovery
  • Getting career training
  • Looking for job opportunities
  • Identifying your personal strengths
  • Developing healthy coping techniques

Your peer specialist is a resource for you during your treatment. They can help you reach your goals or simply be another support person who is there when you need them.

How can a peer support specialist help me?

A peer support specialist has been where you are. They use their personal experience of mental illness and/or addiction to support you in treatment. They know the doubts you’ll have, the setbacks you’ll encounter, and the stigma you’ll experience on your road to recovery.

Having a role model you relate to can be life-changing. At TTHI Counseling Center, our peer support specialists are here to help you reach your goals. Schedule an appointment to speak with your therapist about working with a peer support specialist.

Request an appointment at TTHI Counseling Center

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Topics: Counseling, Mental Health services, addiction, therapy, peer support specialists

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The Transition House is a behavioral health organization serving the public in Florida and Tennessee.

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