Peer Support Specialists… they are you and me, they are the nice lady that you spoke to the other day that changed your life in some way. They are that person that said that thing and it has stuck with you. They are a sounding board, they are a friend. They care what happens to you and what is going on in your life. They see you for who you really are without any judgment. They are your three am phone call with tears in your eyes and no where to turn. They are all of that and so much more.
As a North Carolina Peer Support Specialist all you need is recovery, a GED or high school certificate and some hours of certification training this gives Peer Support Specialists a unique qualification unlike traditional counselors. We share our experiences with others, we walk with them in their own recovery however that may look. Some are thinking about recovery and others are in recovery. Recovery is, and is not what you think, it is not only recovery from substances but from mental health, homelessness, a bad relationship, foster care or other influences that affect our everyday lives. Recovery and Peer Support work hand in hand, just like in traditional AA/NA environments, Peer Support Specialists are there to help you stay in, think of, or start your recovery.
Peer Support Specialist will work with you to figure out what you can do to remain in recovery, what it looks like when you are not doing well and how to get you back on track when you are not well. We provide counseling without diagnosis, medication or asserting authority. We help you figure out what it is that you need to be happy, healthy and well. You might not know it but you have more than likely interacted with peer support more than you know.
Your friend that you call up because your relationship is not going well is your peer support. As Peer Support Specialists we are bound by all the laws that regular counselors are bound by, so it is like Vegas! What is said with us stays with us, and the only time we can say anything is when you are a danger to yourself or others. Building trust and reputation is important as we strive to have a relationship with our clients. A clear set of boundaries gets us to invest our time and resources into you.
If you haven’t already thought about it; let’s give you this, imagine going to a counselor and them being able to relate to you because they have literally been where you are, they have been there and found a way out. To some that is worth more than a counselor with a hundred letters behind their name. Some one who understand how it feels to lose a child, who understands what it is like to fight an addiction craving in the middle of the night when no one else is around. Some one who will allow you to feel without telling you what you should or should not do.
That is what Peer Support Specialists are, we are a guiding light in a world of darkness, a safe zone for you and your afflictions, a judgment free environment where you can come as you are. A place you can finally belong. That is what a Peer Support Specialists is exactly!