Peer Support Whole Health and Resiliency

Peer Support Whole Health and Resiliency Description

Peer Support Whole Health and Resiliency

Peer Support Whole Health and Resiliency

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Peer Support Whole Health and Resiliency (PSWHR) is a training program designed to be taught to mental health Peer Specialists who are in position to then teach it to their peers in mental health.  This approach is based on the belief that people with a chronic illness who are working to manage that illness and working to improve their overall health are more effective in getting another person with the same chronic illness to make life-style changes than trained clinicians without that chronic illness.

First, it is important to understand that this training program is more about motivating and supporting.  It is about helping people believe that they can take control of some part of their life and be successful.  Motivation is ownership plus benefits.  The more the goal is what the person wants (ownership) and the greater the person sees him or herself benefiting from accomplishing the goal, the greater the motivation.  PSWHR uses a comprehensive Benefits-based, Person Centered Planning process to insure that the goal is what the person wants to work on and is committed to.

PSWHR is an eight session training program taught to the Peer Specialists over two days.  In the first six sessions the Peer Specialists go through the materials that they will teach their peers.  The last two sessions are used to train the Peer Specialists to teach the material they have just gone through and to create an action plan for implementing the program back in their own agencies.

Once the Peer Specialists have been through the PSWHR and the Train-the-Trainer sessions, they are free to adapt how they teach the material in their local situation.  The six sessions do not have to be taught over a 2-day period.  Each session needs to be taught in its entirety in one session, but the six sessions can be spread over a longer period of time.  The program is most effective if it is taught within a 2-3 week time frame.

PSWHR focuses on 10 healthy life style/resiliency domains developed by the Appalachian Consulting Group (ACG) and the Benson Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine.   A Person Centered Planning (PCP) process developed by ACG is applied to each of the 10 domains.  This process involves looking at strengths, interests, current patterns and future possibilities in each domain.   Exploring each domain ends by reflecting on the statement – “If I decided that it was important to improve this domain in my life in order to improve my health and resiliency, these are some things that I could do. This would be the benefit of doing this.”

Once people have identified at least 10 things they could do if they decided to and the possible benefits of each, they move to creating a goal statement.  Many people may state their goal in a vague, unclear manner that does not immediately reveal to them simple, concrete actions that they can take each week to accomplish their goal.  The Peer Specialists are being trained to use a process called IMPACT, developed by ACG, to help people think through and re-state their goal so that it meets the six criteria of the IMPACT process.

Once the goal is clearly stated, people are introduced to the weekly action planning process and peer support.  Foundational to the success of the program is the weekly peer support group.  The peer specialists are given detailed instructions on how to structure and insure the success of this part of the program.

It is recommended that the PSWHR support group last for 8 weeks, giving the participants an opportunity to re-decide about continued participation and gives new people an opportunity to join the group.



*Each day begins at 9 AM and Ends at 4 PM with 15 minute breaks in the morning and afternoon and an hour break for lunch.