Peer Specialists Are Not Clinicians

peer support Jun 21, 2017

Peer Specialists are an emerging workforce in behavioral health. Many Peer Specialists work side-by-side with clinicians on ACT teams, psychiatric rehabilitation programs, CommonGround Decision Support Centers, inpatient units, first episode psychosis teams, integrated health/behavioral health teams, etc.

There is no doubt that Peer Specialists have many unique skills that enrich the entire team. However, within these traditional clinical settings, it's not unusual for Peer Specialists to begin to adopt the language and practices associated with the clinical worldview. In other words, over time the work of many Peer Specialists begins to resemble the work of other clinicians on the team.

In my opinion, it is imperative that Peer Specialists remain peer. We are not junior clinicians. I've been thinking about this issue a lot lately in my work with Sascha Altman DuBrulIruma Bello and others at OnTrackNY.  What are the differences and where is the overlap between the Peer Specialist perspective and the clinical perspective?  The chart below offers some thoughts. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this important issue.

Peer Specialist and Clinical Perspectives