Certified Peer Support is an important and growing part of the Nebraska behavioral health workforce. In September, Certified Peer Support and Wellness Specialists (CPSWS) met for their 2nd annual networking conference. BHECN is proud to partner with Peer Support Specialists and support their work to grow and professionalize the field. Conference organizer Judie Moorehouse shared a few thoughts with us about the success of the conference:
Of all the things the conference planning committee didn’t expect in 2012, when we first began discussions on having a Peer Support conference, was the overwhelming response we were going to have to the second one in 2014. The conference in September 2013 was great, although minimally attended. Not so for the CPSWS Networking Conference on September 21 and 22, 2014 which doubled in size! This year it all began with an extremely collaborative committee who were able to plan well and creatively solve multiple mini-crisis that caused us a little anxiety, but never interfered with the process.
Our keynote, Beth Filson, was outstanding as we knew she would be. She came to us with a special knowledge of Peer Support and building trauma-informed relationships and people who had the opportunity to attend her sessions, or talk to her privately, were impressed with her down-to-earth, insider perspectives on all topics regarding Peer Support.
The committee did a great job reaching out in so many important directions. We had a large number of Military Veteran CPSWS in attendance and were able to provide sessions inclusive of them. There were excellent presentation on Veteran outreach, healthcare, and re-entry services, compassion fatigue, suicide prevention, domestic violence, whole health wellness, homelessness, dual diagnosis, peer support credentialing, forensic peer support, and alternative healing therapies.
A compilation of evaluations after the conference proved that quality was present in the sessions and presenters and the CPSWS workforce left wanting more: More time, more sessions, longer sessions, more topics, more networking, and more conference in general. There was also a great deal of buzz about the future direction of Peer Support in Nebraska; how do we “professionalize” Peer Support? How will we better collaborate with clinicians and primary care providers? How will we financially support the CPSWS workforce? Who will hire us and how will they know exactly what we do and where we get our training and experience to do it?
The planning committee left with a lot of questions and thoughts on how to provide information on all of this next year. The networking among peers is proving more is needed, there are interested voices to be heard, more questions to be answered, and very little time to waste in moving forward. Our most sincere thank you goes to BHECN for making the conference possible for the last two years. It has been a most rewarding time for CPSWS and the dedication from BHECN is so very much appreciated.
Judie Moorehouse is the Region 1 Consumer Specialist and works out of Scottsbluff. She is a CPSWS and was one of the first facilitators of IPS in Nebraska. She is a survivor of trauma-related substance abuse and has been following her path of recovery since 1995. Judie is passionate about peer support in all glorious forms and is excited to see forward movement of the work and the recent networking that has been happening.