All posts in “facilitation”

PeerZone Info Session at the Gerstein Crisis Centre

At Gerstein Crisis Centre, we believe every person has the right to live a self-directed life and to pursue their greatest level of wellness and happiness. Gerstein Crisis Centre has actively supported consumer survivor initiatives by employing consumer survivor run businesses (e.g. Abel Enterprises, Fresh Start Cleaning & Maintenance, Raging Spoon and AWay Express) through all of our operations. We support artists with lived experience and are fortunate to have a beautiful collection of art in both our homes. We house the Consumer Survivor Archives and strongly support their efforts.

PeerZone helps to solve a number of problems:

  • It enhances the well-being for people with mental distress. Mental health and addiction services face a real challenge in supporting people to live the lives they want.
  • It provides professional development and support for the peer workforce. The peer workforce is the fastest growing occupational group in mental health today and has a long history in the addiction field. But many peer workers are under-utilised and under-supported.
  • It is very cost-effective. PeerZone is a cost-effective solution from the point of view of participant outcomes and peer workforce development. We achieve better participant outcomes at less cost in three ways.

The Gerstein staff will go into much more detail on the particulars of the program and how to pick and apply to attend the workshop(s).

When/Where: Sunday, June 14 at 519 Church St. Community Centre

Time: 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Contact: Nicki 416-929-0149 Ext. 232 | peerzonegcc@gmail.com

Advanced Peer Support Facilitation Training

On Friday April 24th the Self-Help Resource Centre provided its first Advanced Peer Support Facilitation Training to a full house. This training builds on the fundamental concepts explored in the Introductory Training such as the role of the facilitator, how to use a comfort agreement, how to work with conflict in a group, and facilitation skills development. The advanced training starts off like a peer support group with introductions/check in, group objectives and agenda, and the creation of group guidelines/comfort agreement, with an emphasis on using strengths-based language and communication. The training continues with opportunities for peer leaders to bring their experience to the group and explore facilitator ethics, effective communication, tension, conflict, etc. There is also an opportunity to practice facilitation and build personal facilitator skills, such as mindful listening, self-compassion, self and group care, and more.

After completing the Intro and Advanced trainings, participants are welcome to join our monthly community of practice on the first Thursday of the month. This monthly meeting creates a space for peer leaders to get support from other peer leaders, share valuable resources and experiences, learn and develop professional skills, and brainstorm solutions to ongoing challenges in the field. Please note:

Next Intro Training: TBA
Next Advance Training: TBA
Next Community of Practice: TBA

Contact:  416-487-4355 or email registration@selfhelp.on.ca

Participant Feedback:

“Lovely to reconnect with others from the first training”

“What I liked the most and found most useful was the experience of facilitating a group and the information about how to deal with challenges in the groups, diffusing tension and conflicts.”

“It was great and a lot of fun”

“Thank you for all your hard work, support and encouragement”

“What I liked most was the atmosphere”

“Networking was the most useful and I like the facilitation practice the most”

“Good Session!!”

“The facilitation practice was the most useful, as it was great to put what we learned into practice and to get feedback for improvement”

“Thank you. I am happy to find my questions answered and I feel confident that I invested in my recovery”

“Feeling great!!!”

“What I liked most and found most useful was the openness and exchange of ideas”

“What I liked most was the people I met”

“Great work!”

“It was a great group”

“What was most useful was the insight into your own triggers and stressors and actions to take”

“The kindness and respect shared by everyone was most useful”

Introduction Peer Support Facilitator Training

On Friday February 27th the SHRC provided its second out of multiple trainings on how to facilitate a peer support group. The high demand from the community has inspired us to offer more trainings in the coming months. The introductory training is a peer support group in itself. It starts off with introductions/check in, group objectives & agenda, and the creation of group guidelines/comfort agreement including how to talk about conflict in a group, the peer facilitator role, and boundaries. The training continues with peer support perspectives in mental health, a personal facilitator skills inventory, and individual action plans for next steps in starting a group. It concludes with a mindfulness practice and check out.

After completion of the intro training, participants are welcome to sign up for the advanced training where we will dive deeper into facilitator skill development and group challenges.

Participant feedback:

“Thank you this was worth a Friday at 10am and in Toronto where I travel 2 hours to get here!!”
“Thank you knowledgeable people and Houselink is a comfortable happy setting.”
“What was most useful was the good, solid content and picking up energy and inspiration from individuals and the whole group.”
“What I liked most was the group discussion and the facilitators were willing to help.”
“The collaborative group/class work was insightful and engaging.”
“What I found most useful was evaluating our own facilitation skills/abilities and how simple it is to start a group.”
“Very welcoming environment. I felt comfortable, safe and enjoyed the snacks/beverages.”
“Very well presented, participation was encouraged.”
“The most useful was the action plan to start a group and the contacts I made.”
“Very rewarding experience.”
“Going through the group action plan was most useful. Breaking it down helped to operationalize my own action plan.”
“What I liked most was learning what I could do to resolve conflict.”
“Really awesome. Thank you!”

Peer Support Group Facilitation Training

On Friday January 30th the SHRC provided its first out of multiple trainings on how to facilitate a peer support group. The high demand from the community has inspired us to offer 2 more rounds of the introductory training and 2 rounds of the advanced. The introductory training is a peer support group in itself. It starts off with a walking group (weather permitting), introductions/check in, group objectives & agenda, and the creation of group guidelines/comfort agreement including how to talk about conflict in a group, the peer facilitator role, and boundaries. The training continues with peer support perspectives in mental health, a personal facilitator skills inventory, and individual action plans for next steps in starting a group. It concludes with a mindfulness practice and check out.

After completion of the intro training, participants are welcome to sign up for the advanced training where we will dive deeper into facilitator skill development and group challenges.

Participant feedback:

“Very helpful and relevant.”
“It was a great experience I learned a lot.”
“This workshop is exactly what I needed to go forward to my next step.”
“I like the skills building aspect that emphasizes organizing a peer program.”
“I liked that the attendees were a diverse bunch especially in their reasons for taking the training. I liked the location and the time it ended. I liked the two breaks we had because it gave me an opportunity to get fresh air and stretch my legs.”
“It was encouraging to realize that the action of peer-facilitation is becoming more widely accepted.”

Volunteer testimonials:

“Participating in the facilitator training was an excellent learning opportunity, as a placement student at SHRC. I feel the most useful and practical skill taught in this training was how to to negate conflict within a group. Having participated in a few groups and facilitated one, I have learned that conflict is inevitable; there will always be a difference of opinion and values that are brought to each group due to the natural diversity and variation within our communities. This exact notion of differing worldviews was also brought to the forefront in the training, demonstrating the importance of discourses within the context of comparing a medicalized model of mental health versus an everyday account of mental health. It was further explained that often times these differing and conflicting perspectives is the source of much conflict within groups. Therefore, understanding where our counterparts situate themselves within these discourses is imperative to resolving conflict. The style in which the training was taught was very useful as a participant interested in improving their skills as a peer support facilitator. The entirety of the training was organized similar as to how a support group should run from beginning to the end including some of the following; introductions, check-in’s, agenda and objectives, creating a comfort agreement, a series of topics, mindfulness and a check-out process. This set-up of the training was useful in understanding how a group should run within direct practice and further allowed the participants to take away a practical skill to implement within their own work. Also, the use of activities and post-it notes was my favourite part of the training. Often times, day trainings tends to become a lecture-style format in which all the participants are sitting and listening to the presenter while a slide show runs in the background. Having activities to do with all the participants, at your individual table and also in pairs, avoided this earlier fear and allowed for active engagement without getting bored or distracted. Lastly, the post-it notes were useful because it incorporated a visual and artistic component to the training, that is often lacking in other more traditional types of training.” ~ Caitlin Keating

“Assisting, as well as participating in the SHRC’s peer support group facilitation training, was an invaluable experience. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to help with some preparation for the group as well as being able to help others with their action plans. Making the action plans was very enjoyable and productive. Developing them lead to much needed direction and motivation to begin facilitating our own groups. The training content was detailed and very informative. The input from many of the participants regarding their past experiences in groups, discussing what worked and what didn’t, positively added to the discussion. The extensive facilitation experience of the SHRC’s peer support training facilitator, was very apparent with the level of knowledge she demonstrated and shared with the group. I found the peer support training to be extremely worthwhile and beneficial.” ~ Tammy Clayton

Being “Real” in a Peer Support Group

At a Self Help Resource Centre  meeting, my late friend Spencer Brennan read the following excerpt from the Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams:

What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day…

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Having facilitated peer support groups – with those living with mental health challenges – that excerpt resonated deeply with me. It really brought home for me the importance of creating spaces where people are allowed to reveal their “Real” self, with others who “understand”. I then thought about what model of support might best protect/ support such a space – a space that allowed an individual/s to safely share their “Real” self.

The answer for me was found in a peer support model/philosophy that author Shery Mead refers to as  “intentional peer support”. In the article “Intentional Peer Support: What makes it Unique?” the author notes that we – as facilitators – should do the following:

“…share our stories in ways that help others consider how their beliefs and assumptions have created their reality, understanding, choices, and even their relationships. Although we may have had similar experiences, we listen for how people have learned to tell that particular story and ask questions that create space for reflection and awareness. We explain that we are not there to provide “help,” but rather to contribute to a conversation and a process where we actively challenge each other, and where “recovery” becomes a mutual, dynamic relational process and outcome”. 

If you are facilitating your own group, I encourage you to read more about intentional peer support, to determine whether or not your group might benefit from this approach.

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