In PSR, we believe in this key principle: “Every individual has the capacity to learn and to grow”-Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association

It was early in 2011, during PSR Wellness Activity; I was walking the outdoor trails around Cesar Chavez community center with a new PSR client.

While walking with Gloria, I was talking about PSR philosophy of recovery. At the same time, Gloria was telling me about her personal story, goals and values. When Gloria came to St. Martin’s she was pregnant and homeless. A victim of domestic violence and emotional abuse, she was diagnosed with PTSD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. However, in that first conversation with Gloria, she mostly focus on the future and it was the first time that she talked about her main personal long term goal: to become a Certified Peer Support Worker (CPSW)

It is not uncommon that some of our clients talk about this beautiful and simply human need: “ I want to give back”. It is a way to express their gratitude and appreciation for the services and benefits they have received.

Going back to that first meeting with Gloria, I did what I usually do in these cases; I listened with empathy, validated her goals and gave specific recommendations to address more immediate presenting problems related with symptom reduction, improve functioning of activities of daily living and housing stability.

Gloria has been working on these issues for two years and ten months now, attending PSR regularly plus individual and family therapy. At the same time, since 2012, Gloria has also participated with UNMH Peer Bridges Program, doing volunteer work while preparing to become a CPSW. She took the exam last month, passed the test and officially became a CPSW!

Currently, Gloria is still attending PSR regularly, two days a week. A real work in progress, she continues with perseverance, preparing for the ultimate challenge: working as a CPSW in our community in order to give back to other consumers of mental health services.