Key components of effective peer support groups
Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) leaders and supervisors perform a variety of functions. They are core to the development and implementation of peer support forums and ensuring the understanding of their value to the professional development of staff and effective agency, multidisciplinary team (MDT) practice, and client outcomes. Leaders and supervisors have responsibility for administrative management, education, and support of all staff and team members and, as such, are critical to promoting and sustaining peer support.
As outlined in the Supervisor Manual for the Field Guide to Family Advocacy, the educational role of leaders and supervisors involves identifying what victim advocates need to know and ensuring they are provided opportunities for learning and growth. The support component of leaders and supervisors role focuses on enabling victim advocates to provide effective services to their clients and ensuring they can also effectively cope with job-related stress and exposure to trauma.
Development of criteria for an effective facilitator is important to the overall process. Victim advocates, by the nature of their work, regularly demonstrate facilitation skills in their efforts to empower clients, communicate with and/or on their behalf with the MDT and others, and serve as ongoing liaisons to the various agencies and systems with which families have found themselves involved. Victim advocates can translate such skills to a peer support forum, though the different context can also present challenges. Guidelines and tips for serving in a peer facilitator role will can be quite useful. Part of the process may include a regular facilitator(s) or the group sharing this role.
In designing a Victim Advocacy Peer Support Framework, consider the following components:
- Participants Invited
- Type of Model
- Protocols, Agreements, Ground Rules
- In-Person and/or Virtual