Family Peer Support for Children’s Behavioral Health

Family peer-to-peer support is the most fundamental element of the children’s behavioral health family
movement and has been for more than 20 years. Families have always intuitively known that sharing information, support and advocacy with one another is a key to overcoming the challenges of raising and supporting a child with emotional, mental or
behavioral disorders.

The Role of Peer-to-Peer Support
Peer-to-peer support is a unique and valuable resource for your families and youth in treatment. By linking
you with families/individuals who have been through treatment, peer-to-peer activities:

■ Provide information about the clinic (therapists, interventions, clinic culture) from others
who have “been there, done that,” thereby encouraging families to engage in services
■ Let families know that they are not alone, and reduce the stigma, isolation, and blame
that many caregivers feel
■ Help youth and families to believe that treatment can help
■ Help caregivers to become more effective advocates for themselves and their children
Peer-to-peer support also benefits those who have completed treatment. Survivors of trauma may
find meaning in sharing with others what they have learned from their treatment experience, and in
speaking with and for others. By working with trauma service organizations and providers, survivors
can help restore the sense of safety and protection that is often undermined by traumatic events.
Peer-to-peer support is often developed for program- or organization-specific reasons, and varies
based on the populations served and the structure, budget, and administrative supports of the
organizations involved.

Peer-to-peer support typically takes one or more of the following forms:
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■ Parent partner programs—in which caregivers who have been through specific programs
are linked with other caregivers new to the process
■ Peer paraprofessional programs (such as family navigator or family support programs)—in
which parents/caregivers who have experience in the program receive clinical training and
are supervised as they work with families new to the program
■ Informational programs—in which caregivers who have completed the program provide
basic information and support to parents/caregivers going through similar circumstances.
This form of support can be given in person or through print or video materials