Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Certified Peer Support Specialist

Last week I took a class.  It was a 40 hour class to become a Certified Peer Support Specialist.  I learned so much about myself and my mental illness, and recovery.  The following are some of the Tasks or Duties and Qualifications for a CPSS:

The peer will:
·        Work collaboratively with clients, co-workers and the community.
·        Advocate on behalf of clients and help clients to navigate the health and social services systems.
·        Work closely with clients to address problems and answer questions, gather and provide information and advice, and  connect  clients  to  resources  and  to the  community.  
·        Meet clients both in the hospital and in the community.
·        Initiate, establish and maintain relationships with clients while developing trust and rapport.
·        Act as a coach and mentor, and help clients to set goals and work toward developing skills.
·        Share and discuss common experiences with clients.
·        Help to build a collective sense of community for clients, and help clients to create meaningful lives in the community.
·        Be responsible for planning, organizing, developing, leading and facilitating group activities, including education and awareness building efforts.
·        Complete administrative duties, such as sending and receiving email and telephone calls, and completing required documentation. 
·        Communicate and work collaboratively with team members, attend team meetings, and meet with supervisors to discuss performance.

Candidates must have:
·        Experience of mental health and/ or addiction problems.

They should have:
·        Knowledge/familiarity of the mental health and social service systems, and an understanding of client rights.
·        Possess a holistic perspective of health.
·        The ability to work effectively in a wide range of settings with people from diverse backgrounds, including clients and co-workers.
·        Be comfortable working either one-on-one or in group settings.
·        Excellent interpersonal skills and should be able to adapt to changing situations.
·        Active involvement in the community and a willingness to collaborate with others. Excellent communication skills.
·        Comfort with public speaking and facilitation of group workshops or activities.
·        Comfort coaching others
·        Negotiation skills.
·        Organizational skills.
·        Some experience planning and designing events and activities.

This job description suggests that candidates for the peer position require more than experience with mental health and/or addiction problems and familiarity with the mental health and social service systems through which clients must navigate. Expectations of the job indicate that strong communication skills are of paramount importance to the position. Because of the collaborative nature of the position, peers must be able to work in changing situations with a diverse group of people, interacting either in groups or individually. They should be actively involved in the community and willing to take on leadership and public speaking activities. Coaching and negotiation skills are assets for this position, as are planning, organization and computer skills. These job requirements describe the high level of skills necessary to be an effective peer support worker.  They also highlight the areas in which there are opportunities for training for peer support workers before they enter their positions as well as ongoing training to help them hone their skills.
It is also important to note that although job descriptions are extremely useful, they should not be considered fixed. Programs must be prepared to assess and reassess their own needs and local context, including the skills and experience of the peer workforce. Peer programming will evolve, as will the individuals employed as peers, and job descriptions should be adjusted to reflect this evolution. The job description in this article may not be appropriate for all settings, but it will contribute to a better understanding of the peer support worker position, the skills required, and the types of expectations that could define successful fulfillment of the role.

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