CABHP launches Peer Academy for Leadership

Peer support is a growing segment in the behavioral health field. More and more states, systems, and agencies are adding peer supporters to existing clinical teams or developing entire programs using peer delivered services. Professional development, specifically in leadership skills, is becoming increasingly important as more peer supporters are called upon to lead.

ASU’s Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy, in partnership with UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs and Addiction Technology Transfer Center network in the Pacific Southwest, are launching the ASU Peer Academy for Leadership. ASUPAL provides advanced professional development and expanded resources for peer supporters. The Leadership course is a hybrid program comprised of four days of in-person intensive training followed by six bi-monthly webinars. The course is for peer supporters in the U.S identified by their organizations as emerging or current leaders.

The CABHP recently sat down with the facilitator and international leader in recovery practice, Lisa St. George, who holds a master's in Social Work and is a certified psychiatric rehabilitation practitioner.


So what is this course all about?

"The title of this course is "Inspiring Supervision" because I have a focus on developing a leader in each person that is in the training. When we work with people as if they are already leaders and engage with them with deep respect and profound hope for what we can do together, then their leadership skills really begin to emerge. There's also some really good nuts and bolts information in the training like; how to work with someone when there are challenges on the job, how to help them to regroup and go back (to work), and how to do it in a way that is hopeful and creates possibilities. We also talk about budgeting and setting up programs so that people have a good understanding about the core of how a program works, the business part of it.”

Who do you think would benefit from this course?

"I think peer supporters that are interested in being leaders would benefit from this course and especially individuals who are already seeing themselves rising up towards leadership and supervision of peer support teams. People with lived experience of mental health and addiction challenges,that are ready to take over the supervision of peer support teams within organizations."

With the increase of peers in the behavioral health workforce, what do you think is the future for peer professionals specifically in leadership?

"Even though peer support has been around for years and in some places for a very long time, I think we are still seeing it emerging. Organizations, businesses, and entities understand the power of peer support, and what working with someone who walked a similar path can do to help someone on their recovery journey. We are beginning to see the possibility for that kind of process to take place in other areas of health care. So I think the field is just beginning to expand and grow into places that we might not even realize it's needed yet."

What is the main take away you want peer professionals to learn from this course?

"I guess the most important take away is for folks to believe in themselves and their capability of being a leader and supervisor, and offering guidance to a team that they are responsible for leading. Of course, I hope that they take away the nuts and bolts of budgets and how to read financials because if your budget is not working then your program is not going to last. Finally, I hope people’s interpersonal skills will shift as leaders from a top-down approach to a 'we and us' approach."

Applications are currently being accepted for the September academy in Long Beach, CA. To learn more and apply for the program click here.

Photo: (left to right) Facilitator Lisa St. George and CABHP Research Specialist (and article author) Trey Jenkins.