Laura Cooley at the Peer Pathways conference

Peers Offer Hope, Connection at 4th Annual Conference in Washington State

Publication Date: Sep 05, 2019

It’s an exciting time in Washington State as the role of peers in providing hope and connection to people with substance use disorders is expanding. The Washington State Health Care Authority hosted its fourth annual Peer Pathways conference for Certified Peer Counselors on August 27-28, 2019 in Tacoma, Washington. Over 450 peers and peer counselors from around the state participated in the conference.

This is the second year I’ve participated in this conference, this year presenting a workshop on "The Peer Role in Working with People Who Have Opioid Use Challenges." I am always amazed at the tremendous enthusiasm and strong will to learn more that peers have. What is undeniable is that peers are very eager to be of service to others. They are looking to learn more and put those skills to use. The Peer Pathways conference offered several workshops that addressed peers’ changing role in the workforce. Topics ranged from peers’ role in offering supported employment and supported housing to how to combat compassion fatigue. Speakers shared their moving stories of being in recovery after long struggles, with keynote addresses given by Tonier Cain, a nationally known speaker from Annapolis, Maryland, and a local tribal leader and musician, Swil Kanim. Each of them reinforced the lesson that pathways to recovery are many. Peers can have a key part in helping people to stay on that path.

--Laura Cooley, Technology Transfer Specialist with the Northwest ATTC