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Peer Recovery Specialist Offers Friendly Hand to Wayside Women

Peer Recovery Specialist Offers Friendly Hand to Wayside Women

Written by: Marlene Passell | Date: April 6, 2017

Women at Wayside House now have yet another cheerleader in their fight to regain self-esteem and control over their lives. Susan Chandler, a six-year employee, has been named Peer Specialist for the women’s addiction recovery center.

As a certified peer recovery specialist, Ms. Chandler draws on her own experiences to engage the women. They see her as a friend, someone who accentuates their positives and helps them minimize the negatives that can interfere with both short- and long-term recovery. She helps them develop the confidence to see recovery and meeting their personal goals as possibilities. She also helps each woman develop a personal recovery plan and strategies based on their own skills and abilities and goals. She guides them to be their own advocates, works with them on self-management skills, and focuses on their strengths and individual abilities to help them see their goals as achievable. When outside resources are needed, Ms. Chandler helps the women access them.

“I really enjoy working with the women in recovery because it allows me to use my experience, strength, and hope to help them and to give back to the program that which was so freely given to me. It is just like paying it forward because I have been in their shoes,” said Ms. Chandler.

Peer recovery specialists are a crucial piece in the recovery process and highly valued by clients. They are effective listeners, communicators, and role models who offer inspiration. A peer specialist helps a client see that they are not their disease and that they can evaluate their lives and separate their symptoms of their condition from their true personality. A peer specialist instills hope and a positive self- image to the client and shows examples of situations where they have made positive changes in their own lives. They empower the client to participate in their own recovery and wellness activities and to take small steps toward a healthier lifestyle.

The peer recovery specialist offers reassurance that the future can be different and better and encourage a woman to identify and overcome negative and defeatist thinking that can creep up. She looks beyond mere survival and existence and toward a meaningful life where the client can achieve goals and maintain positive relationships. It is important for both client and peer recovery specialist to understand that recovery is not a single accomplishment and that it is a process that takes time and has ups and downs. This understanding helps to encourage continued commitment to recovery even when the road seems difficult.