ROLE TRANSFORMATION. Key Elements to Successfully Shifting from Being a Client to Becoming a Staff Member Presenter: Cynthia Smith, CAC/CPSS, Aiken Barnwell Mental Health Center. Objectives. The learning objectives for CPSS’s are:
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Key Elements to Successfully Shifting from Being a Client to Becoming a Staff Member
Presenter: Cynthia Smith, CAC/CPSS, Aiken Barnwell Mental Health Center
The learning objectives for CPSS’s are:
Hiring “clients” or self-identified employees
began as an empowerment initiative to bring
current or former users of mental health
services to the management tables of
mental health systems as planners, policy-
makers, program evaluators, community
educators, and service providers.
One of the toughest
moves for some peer
support specialists to
make is the shift from
the client to the provider
Because staff may still look
at you as a “client” and clients
may see you as “staff”.
They both may do this without
understanding that you did or
still do receive mental health
Although there is not a SCDMH departmental policy that states you cannot work where you receive services, many centers have adopted policies that does not allow this to happen.
services for several reasons.
yourself as a staff member
at the agency you work
and be treated accordingly.
2. Allows you to keep personal and
professional life separate.
If you receive services where you work,
your personal information is available and
may be known to staff.
Receiving services outside the agency
allows you to keep your personal business
difficult to enforce and are blurred.
As a client you are entitle to all services
and guidelines as any other client;
however, as a staff member you have to
abide by the policies and procedures of
all DMH staff.
employment does not work out.
In the event employment does not work out the transition
back to the client role can extremely difficult and
your peers and staff.
got you where you are today.
point or recovery concept is an appropriate
use of your experience.
illness, symptoms or medications.
Remember you are a
role model for the clients,
helping them to discover
recovery tools they can use
to move forward in their
not discuss their
Sharing your recovery experience does not
include giving out information about your:
Never make jokes about your medications
Statements such as “ I should
have doubled up on my meds
today” or “ Excuse me today I
forgot my medication”… may be
taken seriously by staff and/or
clients and can “blow-up” on
NEVER use your medication
or symptoms as an excuse at
NEVER allow anyone else the
opportunity to use them
You never have the
right to give out the
information of other
Seeing you as a
“buddy”, can damage
you may no longer be
seen as part of
the treatment team.
And Now A Word From The Supervisors
Understand That Your Supervisor
Is NOT Your “Therapist.”
encouraged to refer employees to Employee Assistance
Program for mental health issues.
provide therapy in the
They are available to provide
direction and assistance with your
job duties, provide feedback
regarding your job performance,
lead team meetings and handle
time to address your personal issues. Many are caring
people who want to see you get help and ensure you get
the time you need devoted to your problems.
At any time employees may need to
respond to crises that may involve
threats, police, verbal outbursts,
and other situations which may
make you feel threatened or
Before responding you should
know & understand your limits.
If you feel threatened or uncomfortable, let
someone else handle the situation and
leave. Staying can endanger your safety and
the safety of others and there is a potential
that the client’s agitation can be escalated.
All staff may to “debrief”
after an incident. This is
when staff can talk
about the incident, how
it made them feel and air
This is not to therapy.
I Feel Depressed
That’s One of my Triggers
I’m Sorta Overwhelmed Today
If you have been a client
of you have probably
developed a “client
vocabulary”. We get
comfortable using these
terms like triggers, off
track, manic, and over-
These are “symptom”
words and should be
used only with your
When you use a client “ vocabulary”,
staff and other clients may respond to
you as such and question your
If you want to step from the client role and
be treated as any other staff member you
have to change your vocabulary.
When responding to codes or
stress you need to be able to
verbalize what you are feeling in a
more appropriate manner.
Instead of “Triggered” you may
say..” That code was a "tuff one”
to describe how it effected you.
Codes can have an effect on all
Learn and use appropriate the diagnoses and
symptom vocabulary to:
The “ I am all better syndrome”…
The “ I am all better syndrome” has cost more
CPSS staff their jobs than most all other reasons.
When moving into a staff position it can be easy to start
wanting to prove you are like everyone else. In the effort to
“ FIT IN” some Peer Support Specialists have stopped
seeking treatment, stopped taking Medication.
The only way to be able to provide clients with the tools they need to move forward in recovery is to be able to effectively stay in recovery.
Not discussing your
treatment & not using
your symptoms as an
excuse will earn you
respect by staff and
Staff know that you have to
be, or have been in the
past, a client to get this
Stopping Treatment Will
Not Earn You the
Respect of Staff or Clients.
treatment issues separate from your work responsibilities.
staff that other staff do not also seek treatment. We are not
the only staff within DMH that may get mental health
services nor are we the only staff to openly uses our
treatment and recovery skills to help others.
One of the greatest
thing about being a
CPSS is that probably
for the first time you did
not have to hide your
diagnosis to obtain
Don’t start being ashamed about
being a client now.
To keep the client part of you
healthy you will never need your
coping skills more than you do
Staff and clients will treat you the by the way you act today.
What I always wanted
to ask but was afraid
All self-identified employees serve as
recovery role models for each client,
staff, family and community
member they come into contact with.
The willingness to publicly disclose
their mental illness and triumphs
associated with recovery go a long
way in dispelling the stigma of mental
illness and prove that treatment
Self-Identified Employees Are HEROS!!!
THANK YOU!!!ROLE TRANSFORMATION: Key Elements to Successfully Shifting from Being a Client to Becoming a Staff Member Cynthia Smith, CAC/CPSS, Aiken Barnwell Mental Health Center