National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy

Trauma-Informed Peer Support and Crisis Alternatives 
Delphne Brody & Pat Risser

In this workshop we will discuss how trauma-informed modalities in peer support can offer survivors opportunities for healing, growth, self-determination, freedom and dignity; common sources of trauma to which clients may be exposed, both within and outside the client/survivor movement; and trauma-informed models of personal, organizational, systems and culture change. 

This workshop is based on one that I recently presented at Alternatives 2008 in Buffalo, NY, as a follow-up to a series of previous workshops presented in 2005, 2006, and 2007 on the findings of the California Network of Mental Health Clients stigma and discrimination study, Normal People Don’t Want to Know Us: First Hand Experiences and Perspectives on Stigma an Discrimination In these earlier workshops, participants recommended strategies, shared their own experiences and compared notes on what is needed, what has worked and what shows promise toward transforming our cultural landscape from one of abuses and indignities to one of respect, empowerment and self-determination.  Throughout many presentations around California and around the country, peer support, trauma-informed care, and alternatives to forced treatment and hospitalization were most prominent among the strategies we brainstormed.  With an increasingly clear picture of the pitfalls we wish to overcome and avoid in the forms of discrimination, prejudice, violence and abuse within and outside the mental health system, and a short list of model programs and promising practices – trauma-informed peer support and peer-run crisis alternatives – as our guide, we will focus on building the case for retooling self-help and mutual support with trauma knowledge and trauma-aware practices, making services ranging from warm lines and peer counseling to crisis respite centers safer, more supportive environments that empower survivors to find new habits, shed learned helplessness, build self-confidence and self-reliance, and honor and nurture unique strengths.

While we will strive to present a cross-section of the collective wisdom we have gathered on these issues, we value input, feedback and discussion from participants, and we will allow ample time for questions both during and after or presentations.