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What is a Peer Counselor?

“Peer Counselor” is a very simple and accurate label for those who play a critical and expanding role in the world of mental and emotional well being. A peer is someone who is on roughly the same level, has had the same experiences, as the client. It can be anything from gender and age similarities to shared sexuality, to expertise in dealing with particular sets of issues.A counselor is a person who offers the client an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, and many resources that can be used to address and improve whatever issues are occurring in life. This is as basic as can be; when you have a cold or flu, you are unlikely to seek out advice from a jeweler. Break a finger? Check out the local carpenter! When we have needs, we seek to share them with those who have been in our shoes.

If we think of the mental health care system as a ladder, we would find at the very top a psychiatrist, who can prescribe medications and utilize privileges at hospitals and such institutions. At that opposite end are peers, your peers, someone who has been trained to help you by listening, talking, and directing you through your journey. This person might be someone you speak to one time to sort out a specific issue or someone you meet with occasionally for support. A peer support counselor is limited through experience and training, so there are times when a peer counselor may suggest the next level of care, which could be a behavioral support person or a licensed therapist. Wondering if a peer support person is right for your current concerns?  Reach out to learn more.

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