Accepting Responsibility for Role Modeling
Peer support specialists are identified as role models because they have attained and maintained recovery. In addition to the explicit support and mentoring responsibilities they undertake, they also have an implicit responsibility for being role models for their clients and other seeking recovery. This responsibility for role modeling lasts beyond the structured interaction between the peer support specialist and the client and extends to how the peer support specialists conduct themselves as they go about their daily lives. Peer support specialists should take this responsibility very seriously and make sure that they are taking the care they need to be able to maintain their recovery and continuing to serve as positive examples to their clients and others. However, serving as a role model does not require that the peer support specialist be perfect in every way at every moment. Indeed, this would be unrealistic. Good role models are aware of their personal flaws, failings and missteps. What is important is that they acknowledge and take responsibility for their behavior and take steps to correct it.
As we discussed in Module 3, one way in which peer support specialists present themselves as role models is in sharing their recovery stories. It is important to distinguish between being an example and being the single right model for achieving recovery. The way in which a recovery story is shared sets the stage for how the client interprets it. The role model shares their experience as a tool for instilling hope and a means of exploring possibilities. The peer specialist as role model does not seek accolades or admiration, but seeks to serve the client in achieving their recovery goals. The client is the one who should assign value to the peer specialist’s recovery story and determine how it can be useful to them. Make your story a resource that your client can use as they need to, not a lesson that they must learn.
This video provides a brief look at how people might choose their role models and what a client might be looking for when they consider if you are a good role model for them.