2020 Conference Workshops

Screening of “Short-Sighted” with Panel Discussion

Presented By: Jay T. Shaffer, Jordan Thompson, Megan Oleskey, and K.C. Kantz

In this workshop you will have the opportunity to view the short film “Short-Sighted” by Pennsylvania filmmaker Jay T. Shaffer. “Short-Sighted” addresses how we are all susceptible to the stresses of life and the power of one person offering a supportive ear. In reference to the script, Jay states, “I re-wrote this script during one of the lowest and darkest points of my life in hopes that one day the story could help those who suffer in silence just like I did.” Following the screening there will be a panel discussion with Jay and the actors involved in the making of the film, all of whom have a deep appreciation for the work of Peer Specialists and hope to end the stigma around mental health challenges.


Peer Support in First Episode Psychosis Programs vs Traditional Roles

Presented By: Amanda Fooks and Elijah Nnaeto

CAPSTONE is a coordinated specialty care program treating young adults experiencing their first episode of psychosis (FEP) located in Harrisburg, PA. The team is made of a psychiatrist, individual resiliency trainer, family education specialist, case manager, supported education and employment specialist, and a certified peer support specialist. Having a CPS on the team has increased individual’s participation rates, allowed for increased peer socialization, and an additional safe space to discuss emotions and related challenges. We will share our feedback on how to the role of CPS is different within an FEP program, provide a clinical perspective of documented changes having a FEP CPS, and share our success on incorporating CPS within a FEP program.


Community Autism Peer Specialists (CAPS) Program: Integrating the CPS Model of Peer Support to Autism Spectrum Disorder

Presented By: Lauren Flynn and Aliki Koumenis

As part of a larger effort to enhance and expand services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the Community Autism Peer Specialist (CAPS) program is a peer support model for individuals on the spectrum. We will review the history/development of CAPS, give an overview of how the initiative came to fruition and explore how the Mental Health peer support model has been adapted to fit the unique needs and strengths of individuals with ASD. We will describe how CAPS has been transforming autism services in Philadelphia and look towards the future of CAPS in PA. Workshop attendees will understand how CAPS uses the neurodiversity-wellness framework to deliver person-centered services to individuals with ASD while affirming the unique identities and contributions of people with developmental differences. We will seek participation from the audience to learn how the neurodiversity-wellness framework can help bridge gaps in peer services and expand peer support to other populations.


Combating Adultism in Mental Health Systems

Presented By: Andrea Boffice

In this workshop, we will learn what adultism is and how it manifests in mental health systems. We will explore ways to combat adultism within youth programs, and acquire the tools to evaluate what is or isn’t genuine youth inclusion. We invite attendees to think critically about their own programs and self-reflect on how they may (sometimes unintentionally) perpetuate adultist behaviors and systems. With these discussions, we will outline how most typical adult-youth relationships in our society inherently include top-down power disparities, and how to avoid replicating these tendencies within a peer relationship. Only through these reflections can we begin to model genuine equitable cross-generational peer support as an alternative to adultist mental health systems.


Supervision for Healing Centered Peer Support: Supporting Trauma Stewardship

Presented By: Emily Ferris and Janet Verga

In this workshop we will discuss supervision strategies to support peer workers experiencing vicarious trauma and moral injury.

We will overview the following concepts:

  • Healing Centered Peer Support
  • Trauma Stewardship
  • Vicarious Trauma and Moral Injury

This overview will include the common impacts of the above on the peer workforce.  The question is: how do we care for each other in professional peer environments? We will discuss strategies to address our needs in supervision and team meetings. This will include:

  • Strategies for self-advocacy
  • Setting and maintaining boundaries
  • Work-based self-care
  • Creating a culture of resiliency
  • The importance of transparency
  • The role of professional development

We will introduce tools for supervisors and team members to utilize for further integration of these principles in their work. These include: Co-reflection principles from Intentional Peer Support and Motivational Interviewing for Supervisors.


Exploring our Professional Paths

Presented By: Evan Figueroa and Maria del Mar Cabiya

Starting a new career in behavioral health and human services is an amazing opportunity. However, as we settle into our new jobs, we start to ask questions. How can I contribute more meaningfully at different level? What are some of the system barriers that I may encounter? What career paths are open to me? During this session we will share our experience in building non-traditional career paths in human services. We will discuss system strategies that could open doors such as ensuring representation of peer and recovery voices at all levels, incorporating recovery experience as a preferred attribute in the hiring process, organizational development and succession planning. Then we will discuss individual strategies that each person can use to develop their personal career path. We will explore strategies such as mentorship, self-advocacy and education. We will facilitate an interactive exercise to Set your Career Goal that aligns with your talents.


Community Inclusion

Presented By: Ryan Tempesco

Exciting new research suggests that increased community participation is related to improved physical, cognitive and mental health and wellbeing. This workshop will provide peer specialists with an introduction to Community Inclusion and a foundational understanding of the relationship between community participation and recovery and wellbeing. It will also explore the key role that peer specialists can play in supporting peers being re-introduced and re-integrated back into the community.


Riverside Correctional Facility & Bridges 2 Home Project

Presented By: Dwayne Spikes and James Klasen

This presentation is intended to show how justice-involved peers can become Certified Peer Specialists inside and outside the walls and provide critical support to their peers. Peer support inside and as part of re-entry efforts results in positive outcomes for individuals by adding meaning to their lives and bolstering self-determination. Peer support also benefits the prison system by reducing incidents and impacting recidivism.


Providing Peer Support to Sex Offenders

Presented By: Judith Samkoff

This presentation will explore competing points, both in support and opposition, regarding creating a Sex Offender Peer Support credentialed subspecialty within Forensic Peer Support. Attendees will appreciate the mental health pathology inherent in a sex offense and name at least three of the wide range of stakeholders involved in Sex Offender management. By the end of the training attendees will also be able to identify how their personal feelings about sex offenders may color their perception of the value of peer support for this population.

The audience will be continually challenged with a professional discourse of ideas and encouraged to formulate opinions and questions of their own. Ample time will be provided for audience questions and relevant remarks; however, for the safety of everyone, the sharing of detailed personal histories will limited.


Creating an Organic Peer Run Environment for Growth, Support, and Connections

Presented By: Ameika Malcolm and Penny Johnson

We would like to share the idea of creating a diverse, safe, and nonjudgmental environment/community where the members embrace, respect and empower the free flow of individual choices for personal development and decisions. One place that serves different constituencies, with understanding that everyone brings something to the table and everyone is their own advocate. In addition, as a community we support and encourage each other to identify and apply individual strengths and abilities to improve their lives as well as the people around them.

This presentation applies a practical concept in which we seek to facilitate a person-driven, peer supporting organic community. We would like the people who attend the workshop to understand that no matter the setting we should always treat people with dignity and respect as well as maintaining our own wellness.


Peer Run Crisis Residence as a Less Traumatic, More Recovery Based Option to Hospitalization, When Safety is Not an Issue

Presented By: Mike Nicholas and a staff member from “The Path Home”

We will define a Peer Run Crisis Residence (PRCR) and what this peer crisis residence model is designed to provide. The peer crisis residence model is designed to be a voluntary, short-term, overnight program that provides community-based, crisis support to help people find new understanding and ways to move forward. It operates 24 hours per day.

Since all staff are Certified Peer Specialists, we will discuss “Intentional Peer Support” and how this provides an atmosphere of recovery to the program. We will discuss “The Path Home”, which is CMSU’s PRCR and how it is designed to offer a stay of up to five days to assist guests in gaining and developing new skills to maintain wellness.

Peer Specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to address needs of guests as they arise. We will provide a close look at “The Path Home” through pictures and discuss the intentional search for a relaxing Bed and Breakfast type location and the non-clinical interior design of “The Path Home.”


Financial Wellness for Peer Specialists

Presented By: Tracy Carney and Alissa Martin

This workshop will focus on the Financial Wellness component of the 8 Dimensions of Wellness. Participants will look at strategies to support peers to build hope-filled financial dreams and plans. Often people on SSI or SSDI don’t know there are ways to improve their financial situations. They may be afraid to consider work for fear of losing benefits. This workshop will highlight financial wellness tools, work incentive tip sheets and resources for people to improve their financial future.


Love Yourself and the Rest Will Follow

Presented By: Jessica Peacock

The presentation is a 60-minute interactive workshop that includes an introductory lecture followed by group activities as well as self-reflection independent activities. The workshop concludes with an ending lecture to tie all activities together and to encourage participants to begin using the steps they created to begin rewriting their self-fulfilling prophecies.

Participants will leave with an opportunity to create a self-esteem building souvenir (metal stamping activity).


A Journey into Mindfulness and Meditation for CPSs

Presented By: Matt Bruno

Attendees will have an initial opportunity to experience “grounding” and related practices to utilize wherever and whenever necessary. They will engage in mindfulness of breathing followed by an exploratory group discussion. I will share my story through recovery as a means to connect and encourage curiosity. We will practice a body scan meditation followed by an exploratory group discussion and Q & A.  The purpose of this session is to create a space encouraging continued healing, growth, and self discovery.


The Benefits of Having and the Successful Integration of Young Adults as CPS Workers in the Work Place

Presented By: Jodi Foster and Alexa Melendez

In this workshop we will explore strategies on how to engage young adults to become CPS workers in today’s workforce. Furthermore, we will discuss the many benefits of integrating CPS in youth and young adult services as well as look into what it is like going through the process of becoming a youth and young adult CPS worker.


Not Pushing the Boundaries: Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities

Presented By: Katherine Mullins

Not Pushing the Boundaries is a discussion on boundaries in peer support when you are supporting peers with an intellectual disability and mental health diagnosis. This presentation discusses all definitions of MH/ID and boundaries. The presentation also challenges the audience to look at boundaries from the perspective of the peer. This presentation will also help CPS and CPSS use effective communication when needing to discuss boundaries with peers that have MH/ID. There will be discussion time to go over different ways to overcome barriers to boundaries.


Self-Care and Vicarious Trauma for the Peer Support Specialist

Presented By: Melissa Groden

Peer Support Specialists face many demands while providing the service. They are also maintaining their recovery journey at the same time. CPSs will experience trauma exposure and will need to understand the impact this has on their well-being and identify ways to practice self-care.
The goal of this presentation is for the CPS to understand how trauma exposure may impact them directly and how to maintain effective self-care strategies.


Integrated Peer Models for Health

Presented By: Vania Miller

The Integrated Peer Models for Health (IPMH) Program is a capacity building initiative in the North Philadelphia area. The Program Director of the IPMH will speak about the development and implementation of learning collaboratives for Peer Support Workers (PSW) and their supervisors, the cross-training includes physical and behavioral health content, trauma informed care, and create a community of peers in the Health Enterprise Zones (HEZ) to support and improve collaboration. The speaker will also talk about implementing Aunt Bertha, a cloud-based technology platform for comprehensive social service referrals among PSW in the HEZ zip codes. The third part of the presentation will be about the development and implementation of a 6-month pilot of an integrated team model consisting of a Certified Health Worker and a Certified Peer Specialist to work with individuals identified as at high-risk for poor health outcomes and experiencing complex physical and behavioral health comorbidities.