Peer Support

Hi there! I learned a practice called "listening partnerships" from a non-profit called Hand in Hand Parenting (Palo Alto) and used it as the central practice to build a loose network of parent-to-parent peer support in Berkeley in the East Bay. I was a trained and certified instructor and trainer in Hand in Hand's accompanying parenting curricula, but after a few years I stopped using their full curricula because it seemed insufficient in the context of our growing understandings of how trauma resolves in children, parents and families. I continued teaching and supporting parents for a few years after that using many of the Hand in Hand tools (with permission and citation) while augmenting their materials with a trauma-informed lense, body-based & strength-building approaches,  and a shift in emphasis throughout to empower parents more deeply. I am currently working to formalize what I taught into a curricula that will have online and in person components and is slated to be further fleshed out through interviews and review by trauma experts. The peer-to-peer listening support model, coupled with resilience building practices that parents can do at home (on their own and with kids), will provide the daily regulation support to help parent remain centered and well resourced for the work of parenting. Support circles (online and in person) will also be available after a series of introductory workshops that we hope to have broadly available throughout our community. I am working with local experts to piece together the best resources we can to put these "home grown" tools and supports into the hands of as many parents in our community as we can! Does this help? Feel free to message me if you want to know more. (We are called The Family Spirit Center). Good luck!


Hi Angela, and thank you for your helpful reply. On your recommendation, I have looked at Listening Partnerships and other Hand in Hand resources and there are some useful elements there. I would also be most interested to hear more of your peer-to-peer listening and support circles as they develop so let's keep in touch. Thanks again!  

Excellent, let's be in touch! We are inching forward with a campaign to get the best supports we can for the most parents in our local community and beyond. I will be in touch soon and let you know how you can follow our progress.  I know what we are building is SO needed, and even letting folks know about it has been slow. A case of building the bike while riding it. In the meantime, I wish you well with getting the supports you and your community need!

Hi Michael,  I work with the Alternatives to Violence Project - a curriculum with a 45 year history of peer group work in over 100 prisons in the U.S., schools, parenting, gang intervention, and over 60 countries. While nominally about preventing violence we do it through empathy and compassion work and trauma recovery. It's a facilitated peer process fine tuned over decades. Where are you? I can steer you towards our nearest local group. You might glimpse my blog post today also. I'd be happy to correspond.

Good morning Michael. There are several programs in my community that are extremely effective . One is the Community Outreach Addictions Team, better known as the COAT program. It is a team of peer support Specialists who  attend attend every overdose that has called 911 or 211, or has entered the emergency room of our local hospital. They try to engage the overdose victim in treatment and have had a tremendous positive response. It is part of the Wicomico County health department in Salisbury Maryland. It was the brainchild of the state's attorney  Matt Macerellio, and the health officer Lori Brewster  in response to the  overdose epidemic  we all face . The health officer Lori Brewster has all of the statistics that you would need to understand the efficacy of this particular program. It has become a model program in the state of Maryland and is being replicated throughout. You can reach Lori at Lori. Brewster@ the other program that is extremely successful is Peer Connections, which uses peers to address the Dual issues of mental health and addictions. Also in Salisbury Maryland. Unless there is a program called Lower Shore Friends , which is a drop-in center for folks with mental health and or addiction issues. The executive director is Bunky Sterling and he would be happy to talk to you. I hope this is helpful!

Hi Roger, I'm really interested in the Alternatives to Violence Project and note that there are a number of projects, and many workshops, springing up in various regions of the UK which is where I'm based. The crossover of specialist and peer support in accessible, affirming format fits with the self-healing, trauma-informed communities theme that is building here. Forgive me please but I couldn't easily find your blog. May you send me a link? 

Beth: the COAT programme sounds very powerful and I saw in the evaluation that Wicomico has achieved a huge decrease in drug and alcohol related deaths. I will highlight this among our group.

Thank you both!           

Peer support is different from talking therapies, and it is currently being done virtually across America and overseas. It’s Medicaid billable.  I would suggest you connect with National Empowerment Center to get a breadth if the resources, and also look at Intentional Peer Support, WRAP (Wellness Recovery action plan), emotional CPR. There us incredibly much going on re: peer support. Good luck! 

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Cissy White (ACEs Connection Staff)Karen Clemmer (ACEs Connection Staff)