Peer Counseling at Windhorse has been available to interested clients since 2000. It is provided by paid peer counselors who have completed Peer Counselor Training at Windhorse. Peer Counselors are full members of treatment teams and attend all team meetings as well as providing basic attendance shifts. However, it is evident in the peer counselor job description that significant potential exists for peer counselors to relate to clients in a manner more like "friends" than "therapists." This contrasting role enables peer counselors to play a role more closely aligned with the client's expressed needs as these needs arise, empowering the client and supporting his or her unique voice based on the peer counselor's identification with the client's lived experience.
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Peer counselors and clients may share responsibilities and activities that are more leisurely or less intensive than those provided by formally trained professionals on the team. Peer counselors and clients often form genuine friendships that transcend the treatment setting or outlast its duration. Peer counselors, as successful examples of recovery and employment, may model traits or strategies to clients that inspire them to pursue their goals more diligently. They play a unique role in this organization, reminding us all of the diversity of experiences, wisdom, and styles that can be acquired through an individual's life experience. They also teach us how each viewpoint is as relevant as any other in understanding a complex phenomenon like extreme states of mind and assisting someone on their path to healing and recovery.