The role of peer work and behaviour change | HMA

The role of peer work and behaviour change

We know that domestic, family and sexualised violence (DFSV) continues to be a major challenge across our communities. We also know there are insufficient specialist agencies and workers to do the work. So, how do we create a collective voice within our communities where people have the skills and ideas to stand alongside those creating or experiencing harm to support change?

Sitting with Vic, David and Tim (listen to the SafeMan SafeFamily podcast episode here) got me thinking about the overlaps between peer-led work and motivational interviewing. There is probably more in common than different. While many people using motivational interviewing approaches in their practice may not have the same lived or living experience, there are many commonalities within our human experience.

Peer work is high on developing a working relationship. Peer-led approaches are based on four key themes:

Mutuality authentic two-way relationships between people through ‘the kinship of common experience’.
Connection – learning, knowledge and wisdom that comes from personal lived experience of mental distress or addiction and recovery.
World view – people who have experienced mental health challenges and gained wellbeing develop many skills, knowledge, talents and attributes through those experiences
Moving forward – the belief that there is always hope and that resiliency and meaningful recovery is possible for everyone.

Motivational interviewing as a core practice approach maps onto these key domains. The spirit of motivational interviewing (Miller and Rollnick) is described as:

Partnership – both parties bring strengths to the relationship. We are in this together, despite having different experiences.
Acceptance – being empathic, warm, accepting and affirming allows for depth of connection and understanding.
Compassion – to give top priority to the health and wellbeing of the person you are serving.
Empowerment – to help people realise their own strengths and abilities and build from there.

Within motivational interviewing, we are noticing and affirming what service users bring to the relationship. We know that recognising a specific positive action, statement, effort, or intention lets the person know that we see them and acknowledge the efforts they are making. Complex affirmations take this to a much deeper level, where the intention is to highlight or infer an enduring positive attribute about the service user. For example, we might say something like, “You are a really courageous person to be talking about tough stuff.”

While there are differences between peer work and motivational interviewing, a number of core ideas are shared. Supporting those with lived experience to connect with service users breaks down a key barrier. It is useful to know that someone else has walked the same journey you are about to embark upon. It provides a model of what is possible. Well done to those peer workers taking on the wero/challenge to engage and support others with change.

Published on Thursday, April 11th, 2024, under Learning & development, Motivational Interviewing, Uncategorised

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