Classes at a Glance
Module One: Peer Specialist I. This course introduces the role of the peer support specialist, with an emphasis on the recovery process and on the strengths-based peer recovery model. Topics include empowerment, cultural competency, co-occurring disorders, wellness, conflict resolution, social inclusion and anger management. The class also covers critical peer support core competencies, including rapport building, reflective listening, engendering hope, and unconditional positive regard. The class will be discussing the delicate issue of self-disclosure, and how it can strengthen peer relationships, instill trust, and boost a peer support specialist’s ability to inspire and lead. This course includes frequent role-playing.
Module Two: Peer Specialist II. This course provides a deeper understanding of recovery planning, the strength-based model, and cultural competency. Participants will learn how to identify their own areas of privilege and biases. They will also evaluate how these factors negatively impact their effectiveness as a peer support specialist. Additional topics include, developing wellness strategies, motivational interviewing, de-escalating conflict, and trauma-informed care. Learning about and practicing advocacy skills will also be part of the curriculum. Participants will be writing and presenting their own personal recovery plans. Role-playing is utilized.
Module Three: Understanding Psychiatric Diagnosis. This course reviews several major mental and personality disorders found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders, (DSM-5). The diagnostic features of each disorder will be reviewed. In addition, theories pertaining to genetic, neurobiological, and environmental influences on specific disorders will be discussed. A sampling of the DSM- 5 disorders covered in the class include bipolar 1 disorder, the schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders, paranoid personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder. Peer Support Specialists are instructed not to diagnose clients. Case examples are reviewed.
Module Four: Introduction to Psychiatric Medication. This course examines over forty psychotropic medications falling under six broad categories including, among others, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics and anxiolytics. Participants learn how psychotropic medications are used to treat the symptoms of specific diagnoses. A key objective is to help participants understand the benefits of, as well as the side effects caused by indie dual psychotropic medications. Basic concepts pertaining to neurobiological mechanisms and pharmacological interactions that come into play will be explored.
Module Five: Peer Case Management. Practical approaches to case management are introduced in this course, including Assertive Community Treatment, the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Model, and the Strengths Model. This course makes extensive use of case review and discussion, with tests focusing on the students’ ability to analyze cases. strengths based assessment procedures are reviewed with role-playing. The concepts of supported employment, supported education, and supported housing are introduced. Community resources are reviewed and presented by the participants.