Working Together

“They don’t get it!”

I hear this every day in my work with Peer Support Specialists. I hear it from Peers that are usually the only Peer working in their office. “They” are the powers that be; the administrators and clinicians that work within their agency. What “they” don’t get, is that our profession is different from theirs, with different job duties, different training, and different ethics.

And you know what? “They” never will. “They” will never know how it feels to be marginalized because your mind works differently than most. “They” will never know how it feels to be told that you don’t know what is best for you, and that you have to trust the professionals to tell you how to live your life. And “they” don’t know how it feels to be the only person of your profession in the agency.

All any of us has is our experience. Just as “they” don’t get what we do, we really don’t get what they do either. Imagine how frustrating it must be to go through many years of education telling you that “this” is the right way to do things, and then someone comes along without all that education and does things that you could lose your license for, but they get paid to do it. Imagine how scary it must be to see budgets being cut right and left, and then a new career field comes along that treats the same population that you do, but costs much less. I would imagine that it may even be a little insulting for someone with a high school diploma to come along and work with my population, when I have a master’s degree.

So, how about we have as much understanding with the people we work with, as we do with those we serve. How about we stop being “Us” and “Them” and just be us. All of us. How about we have a dialog with the people we work with. We can show them the things we have been trained on and our Statement of Ethics. We can share with them some of the wonderful communication techniques we have learned. We can show them how our work can complement theirs, but never replace it. And we can share our experience with them so that they can better understand those that they serve. After all, we are all really after the same thing; recovery.

So while the people we work with will never really “get it”, we can help them better understand by not being defensive, and by showing them that we can all work differently toward the same goal.

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