Peer support can help deal with trauma

I went to a training a few weeks ago on trauma to learn more better coping skills when dealing with trauma  both in my own life, and in helping others with their lives as a peer support specialist. According to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, trauma is defined as: “The experience of violence and victimization including sexual abuse, physical abuse, severe neglect, loss, domestic violence and/or the witnessing of violence, terrorism or disasters.”

Getting inspiration, support – and education – can promote lasting change in the lives of people who have experienced or are experiencing trauma. The love of family and friends is incredibly healing, but it isn’t always enough. Creating and maintaining friendships with others whose experiences have been similar to our own can fill the gap and meet the need for understanding. However, for people who have experienced trauma, connecting with others is sometimes extremely difficult to do.

Peer Support is a wonderful tool to utilize when you have dealt with aspects of trauma and find it is continuously affecting you. It’s a time when peers who may have experienced something similar in their lives can offer things to you, such as education. Peer support does not demand anything of you; in essence it’s like they are asking for permission to help. One of the biggest things that I learned from the trauma training and through reading various resources, is that if I stop and think before I talk to someone who has been dealing with trauma, I can help better. Sometimes we just need a listening ear. As someone who has experienced trauma throughout my life, I only wish I could have had a peer in my life throughout all my obstacles.