Via Hope announced the creation of a new Reentry Peer Specialist training and certification in August 2018. The certification created a new professional opportunity for formerly incarcerated persons to use their lived experience to help others. The intent was to directly address the significant barriers to becoming a whole person; this includes employment, trauma, and other reentry barriers that many people face after release from incarceration. Reentry Peer Support has the potential to dramatically transform the behavioral health workforce.
Unlike other reentry training models, the Via Hope training emphasizes the trauma individuals experience before, during, and after incarceration. The Reentry Peer Specialist credential also offers formerly incarcerated individuals an opportunity to further their own recovery while providing support and hope to other people who may be trying to find their own way through reentry and recovery. The credential is issued by the Texas Certification Board. Via Hope continues to focus on the implementation of this workforce into correctional facilities and broader system change related to incarceration and community reentry.
The core learning objectives of this training involve participants’ self-exploration relative to: (1) Recovery from a Reentry Perspective, (2) Trauma, (3) Recidivism Intervention, (4) What it means to be a Peer Specialist, and (5) Maintaining a Whole Person Perspective. The training is held over a 8-day period (various formats) and is facilitated by trainers who also share lived experience around incarceration. We assembled a strong team to develop an excellent training and certification, with expertise in curriculum writing, evidenced-based support services, mental health, substance use, and lived experience with incarceration.
There are currently a myriad of peer supports for different audiences. The Reentry Peer Specialist training opportunity provides an innovative approach to reentry peer support. It is reentry focused, trauma responsive, evidence and competency based. Our training provides concrete professional tools; these tools equip participants with the knowledge, strength, and intestinal fortitude that will help them to break the cycle of recidivism. The criminal justice system is often referred to as the new mental health system because of the staggering amount of people with mental health challenges who become justice involved, in part due to the continued criminalization of mental health and substance use challenges. Via Hope actively works to make systems more focused on recovery and resiliency by providing education, training, and consultation for people in recovery, their family members, youth, and mental health professionals. We believe that by creating innovative, evidenced-based peer support services like the Reentry Peer Specialist certification, we can work to end the disturbing trend of criminalization and make our communities and our country more equitable and recovery-oriented places.
“The model has the potential to change the trajectory of recidivism for our nation,” said Dr. Sandra Smith (the developer).
The curriculum is focused on a new concept called “Thrauma®” and Freedom vs. Release, which is a person-centered model that emphasizes, ‘What happened to you?’ rather than ‘What is wrong with you?”
To view the video “A Solution to Recidivism” click here