Each month we feature a peer specialist to recognize and celebrate their amazing efforts. This month we are introducing you to Melissa, a peer specialist in long term recovery who is currently a Recovery Navigator for AmeriCorps, placed at AVIVO in Minneapolis.
Q: How long have you been a peer specialist?
A: I have been working in the peer recovery field since November of 2017 to present.
Q: What inspired you to become a peer specialist?
A: When I was in early recovery I started volunteering for Minnesota Recovery Connection. There I was encouraged to attend and complete all of their trainings, mentored by their staff, and invited to attend the Recovery Coach Academy. My passion to be successful in my own recovery truly motivated me to be of service to others who, like me, are looking to find their own path into long term sustainable recovery.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being a peer specialist?
A: The pleasure it brings being able to assist others on their path. Watching people in recovery spread their wings and grow into their newfound freedom and life is the most rewarding aspect of being a peer specialist.
Q: What do you find most challenging about being a peer specialist?
A: The most challenging part of being a peer specialist is watching people have a reoccurrence of their disease. It can be a very emotional time for them and providing the appropriate support without judgment is essential. With that said, each day is a delightful new challenge and an opportunity to celebrate successes!
Q: What have you learned about yourself during your time as a peer specialist?
A: I have learned that there are multiple successful ways to long term sustainable recovery. There is no “cookie cutter”, "fix all model” for recovery; having a support network is so important not only for the peer, but for the specialist as well. I learned that recovery is possible!
Q: What piece of advice would you give to other peer specialists?
A: Develop a personal support network, maintain your own program if applicable and be solid with your boundaries. Peer specialists have an amazing ability to be compassionate, and it is very important to maintain a self-care routine, with an outlet directed to professional support.