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Peer Supports at Casa Di Vita

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Peer Supports at Casa Di Vita

Peer support has always been an important feature of the recovery process. Over the last decade in particular, providers of substance use treatment and support programs have increasingly incorporated peers and peer supports into the services we provide. Caz Recovery is no different. Doing so acknowledges that lived experience is important and can play a helpful role in the recovery process. Kelsey Lennertz is Casa Di Vita’s Reintegration Manager, and she and her staff are excited about integrating peers throughout their program.

Peer Mentoring

One of the easiest and most effective places to implement peer supports is with new residents. “We’re immediately setting them up with a peer mentor,” said Kelsey. The goal is to have a three-day orientation period where new residents shadow peer mentors. Casa’s mentors show new arrivals important parts about the program and the nearby neighborhood. They also discuss the program’s expectations. Kelsey and Casa’s staff have created a checklist that helps peer mentors ensure that they’ve covered everything.

Casa Di Vita staff members
Casa Di Vita staff members

This strategy builds confidence in new residents and the peer mentors alike. New residents feel more welcomed and are more likely to engage with services if they have a mentor encouraging them to do so. The mentors, meanwhile, are able to grow in seniority and self-esteem through the coaching process.

Committees & Peer-Led Groups

While mentoring is important, it’s not the only way peers can be effective. “I don’t want the mentor to be the golden standard or the only way to get recognition,” said Kelsey. “It might not be for everyone.” In recognition of this, Kelsey and Casa’s staff have created a mix of peer-run committees that will make Casa Di Vita an even better place to receive care.

Creative Energy is a committee with two main goals: hosting in-house social and team building activities and researching outside leisure activities, recovery-related outings, and events. The Information Committee, meanwhile, helps other residents learn about services and resources, along with connections to self-help groups. The Environment Committee organizes chores, cooking responsibilities, and facility maintenance. There are other committees forming at Casa, as well. Thus far, topics include health, inspiration, organization, and orientation. Together, they will provide the women in the program with a wide range of ways to engage with and serve as peers.

All of these new initiatives are certainly exciting, but they take a lot of coordination to implement effectively. That’s where Casa’s newly-revamped schedule comes in. “The schedule plays a really big role in keeping us organized,” said Kelsey. Over the last few weeks, Casa Di Vita has switched up their schedule with a few changes like adding peer-led groups. They feature team building and other activities planned by residents. “It strengthens their relationships,” said Kelsey. These activities help to build a safe and team-focused atmosphere at the program that cultivates residents’ willingness to be vulnerable in some of their more intensive and therapeutic groups. “We want them to know that it’s possible to give back and heal from trauma,” said Kelsey.

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