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Peer Recovery

I hope you enjoy this post … you can hear me review this post as well at the following link

About 3 years ago I was on a stage in Williamsburg, Virginia. Funny enough, the conference was being held inside of the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, a place I had often been with my own children. Now here I was speaking to hundreds of people about the relevance of Trauma in Adult Corrections. I think there is a connection there, hold on for that.

Things happen for a reason …

So I was nervous because I have always thought of myself as someone who knows kids and families, but what did I know about adults in the jail system? Secondly, I was terrified because why would a bunch of Sheriff’s and Correctional Officers listen to me? I have often been called the “hug a thug lady”. I think that means that I am ignorant enough to believe that if we hug enough “hardened criminals” they will just magically get better. There might be some truth in the hug part … but I strongly believe in consequences and I know that there is a lot of deep quick sand men and women must wade through to deal with their trauma and engage in their resilience and recovery. There is nothing easy about recovery …

What I believe most is that Recovery and Discipline are not mutually exclusive

… and that Resilience is possible in all places and Within all Walls. 

That was the day I met Sheriff Leonard. I couldn’t even get off stage. He was standing there at this state conference and he said “What will it take to bring you to the men and women in my jail … where do you live?”. My response was “Chesterfield Virginia” and he said, “You are not going to believe this … but I am the Sheriff of Chesterfield Virgina jail”.

Perhaps 2 weeks later I went to his office and 5 minutes later I was in the jail where he asked me to do an impromptu presentation to his men in the Substance Abuse Program known as HARP (Heroin Addiction Recovery Program). And then he asked them “You want her to come back?”, the men said yes … I have been coming back ever since.

Today …

Today I work with men and women weekly in the Substance Abuse Programs at the Chesterfield Jail.

  • I teach Trauma and Resilience Classes there (the same ones as in the Community)
  • I teach the full Dr. Brene Brown Rising Strong Curriculum (16 hours) and they practice these skills of resilience each week (some choose to take the class 3,4 and 5 times)
  • And as of 2017, as you can see in the picture below, I have worked with DBHDS in Virginia and with many dear colleagues around the state to assure that residents here can start the path in becoming Certified Peer Recovery Specialists. I sincerely believe that like knows like and that these brave people will help guide others into recovery



It is a gift to do this work and I learn from them every day. They are not now nor will ever be “inmates” to me. For the record … I passionately dislike that word. Of interest, the original translation of this word was “a person who dwells with others in the same house”. The word “in” means then “inside” and the word “mate” means “companion”. 

The persons I have met in Chesterfield Jail may be inside those walls … but they are dwelling with us in our same house, our country and our world. They are our neighbors, our siblings, our parents, our cousins, our co-workers, the person we sit next to in the restaurant and the movie theater.  They are my companions in figuring out the many paths of recovery. And I believe they are the individuals who will help us one by one challenge the disease of substance use and the Opioid Crisis specifically.

They are the reason for our “Doing Life” Curriculum (check it out under current events)

I hope you will support that work and check out our non-profit we created (Integrative Minds) to support Peer Recovery Work and Trauma Work specifically.

Final Thoughts … the connection

So where is that connection? So there I was three years ago in a place I choose to use to connect with my own children. A place where we get to interact and spend quality time laughing and enjoying each other. And now in that moment where I met Sheriff Leonard … I was investing in my kids future again.

Parents and ProSocial Adults are the number one protective factor for children.

If we do not invest in ALL adults … then how will we truly build Community Resilience?

If you doubt me … watch this short clip I love from Sheriff Woody’s Days in the Richmond Virginia Jail.

I have yet to watch this video and not cry.

One thought on “Peer Recovery

  1. Thank you for the work you are doing in the correctional system. I have too have a passion for ensuring that incarcerated men, women, and adolescents receive the necessary tools in order to return to society equipped to function as men and women with a voice who dare to be brave and dare to lead!
    As a Transformational coach and 30 plus years working closely with this population, I welcome the opportunity to chat with you further to share our passions and explore possibilities!!
    Continued Strength and Power Is you change the world!

    From my heart to yours,

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