Have you been through a particularly trying time, say for instance a serious medical diagnosis? Did you wish that you had someone to talk to who had been though a similar experience? Would it have calmed your concerns to talk with a person who shared their own experience with a similar diagnosis; told you how they had learned to cope and gave you some tips and tricks that made life easier? If you said yes, then you were interested in peer support.
Peer support is an evidenced based practice that focuses on recovery from mental illness and substance use disorders.
“Peer” implies that those providing peer support services have lived experience with mental illness and/or substance use. In Virginia, we are called Peer Recovery Specialists (PRS).
After completing DBHDS mandated PRS training, meeting a standardized set of requirements and passing an exam, we can add “Certified” to that title (CPRS). Peer support is a complement to standard mental health/SUD treatment. Clinical treatment is based on classroom and book knowledge, and clinicians usually do not share their personal experiences with clients. An essential component of Peer Support is to share personal recovery stories; it’s important that peers (clients) know that they are talking with someone who has “been down that road.” For example, we know what it’s like to hide behavioral health issues in interviews and on the job. Ironically, a requirement to be trained as a PRS, is to have mental health and/or substance use challenges!
Growing Recovery, A Peer Support Program of the RACSB
Growing Recovery offers free peer support groups to adults with mental health and/or substance use challenges. Groups are led by PRS facilitators, some of whom are certified, with varied personal lived experiences. Attendance is voluntary and regular attendance, is not required.
Participants are not asked to disclose diagnoses, but may share if they chose. We focus on strengths related to recovery rather than dwell on problems and challenges. The only topics we avoid are discussing medications, beyond a passing mention and details of past or present traumas. If anyone (participant or facilitator) is uncomfortable with a topic, they can ask that the topic be changed or simply say the safe word.
Stress relievers, such as fidget toys, coloring, sewing, etc. are welcome as long as they are quiet. We offer free coffee, water, and snacks and don’t mind if someone brings a lunch.
Growing Recovery Groups
Coping with Trauma, Tuesdays, 11 AM—1 PM— A support group for individuals who have experienced trauma, whether it’s a single incident or cumulative. Come share and receive support around the challenges of coping with trauma. The group is facilitated by a certified peer recovery specialist who has experienced trauma. Facilitator is also trained in trauma informed care.
Sit & Stitch & Color & Converse, Tuesdays, 1 PM—3 PM— A low key support group where everyone is working on an activity of choice (i.e., coloring, sewing, knitting, drawing, etc.) while chatting. Some coloring supplies are provided. If you have a current project, feel free to bring it.
Women’s Self-Empowerment, Wednesdays, 12 PM—2PM— Would you like to know more about how to take control of your own life, set goals, make positive choice and believe in yourself? Join in the learning and questioning as we explore the many aspects of self-empowerment and discover helpful strategies and free resources.
Peer Connections, Thursdays, 1 PM —3 PM— A safe, confidential environment for those of us with mental health and/or substance use challenges to share and listen to one another.
Saturday Support and Share, Saturdays, 12 PM—2 PM— A general support group for those of us with mental health and/or substance use challenges.
Birthday Pizza & Salad Party, first Saturday of each month, 12 PM – 2 PM – A social activity that includes the regular support of Saturday Support and Share. All are welcome, it need not be your birth month. We supply pizza and salad greens and ask participants to bring something to go in the salad or a dessert item, if they are able.
Groups are held at 405 Bridgewater St, Fredericksburg, 22401. We are open to offering other groups, so send your ideas our way.
For more information, please contact GrowingRecovery@rappahannockareacsb.org