SPRINGFIELD, Vt.- Health Care and Rehabilitation Services (HCRS), Vermont’s second-largest non-profit community mental health agency, is training its Adult Mental Health and Addiction Services staff in Intentional Peer Support. This highly desired and well-respected training was developed by psychiatric survivor and activist, Shery Mead, and helps staff to develop relational skills for supporting others in mutual, respectful, and genuine ways.
HCRS hosted one-day overviews of Intentional Peer Support training for staff, clients, and community members. Thanks in part to a grant from the Department of Mental Health for a peer support internship project in collaboration with Vermont Psychiatric Survivors and Pathways Vermont, 20 people received the full 5-day training in Intentional Peer Support. Malaika Puffer, from HCRS, and Calvin Moen, from Vermont Psychiatric Survivors, co-facilitated this training. Participants learned to practice new ways of relating based on learning rather than helping, focusing on the relationship rather than the individual, and responding out of hope rather than fear or control. Intentional Peer Support encourages practitioners to step out of their expert to client dynamics and connect in an honest, curious, human-to-human way.