It has been a while since I’ve posted here, so it seems appropriate to update and see what all of you have been up to, as well as to provide an explanation for what I’ve been doing. As many of you know, I am a survivor of trauma: child sexual abuse, domestic violence and rape. I also am a mental health thriver living with PTSD, anxiety and bipolar disorder. As a part of my recovery, I have been an advocate for others who have had similar experiences. In my quest to learn more about myself and others, I took Nebraska’s Peer Support and Wellness Specialist training and became certified at the end of April.
For those unfamiliar with peer support, it is a co-learning experience between two individuals with similar lived experience. Neither party is an “expert”. The relationship is the most important thing. Boundaries are discussed, honesty is paramount with each party sharing his/her discomfort when necessary, all things are approached from a position of “not knowing”. The peer support model is not a medical model. We do not focus on diagnosis nor do we ask “What’s wrong?” We instead ask “What happened” and strive to discover how what happened affected one’s learned behavior and responses.
For 5 Saturdays I drove 125 miles round trip and met with the most diverse and ALIVE people I have ever had the pleasure to know. This group included persons in recovery from substance abuse, survivors of violence, veterans with traumatic brain injury and mental health consumers. Twenty-two people opened up, bared their souls, walked through the fire of opening Pandora’s box and faced triggers and learned about themselves and others. I learned the origins of my learned behavior, I learned how to improve communication in all of my relationships, how to hold multiple truths and how to evaluate limits vs. boundaries. I made friends, had fun and earned EVERY SINGLE LETTER after my name.
I am now Paulissa Kipp, CPSWS (Certified Peer Support & Wellness Specialist). I am honored to learn.