Peer Counselor Graduates Lead By Example

The San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center took pride in graduating seven deserving consumers from its Peer Counseling Program. We extend our sincerest congratulations to Richard B., Hillary B., Mirry C., Louis D., Mary H., Donetta H., and Melissa M. on their hard work and dedication. The graduation ceremony, held on July 22, was a chance for the graduates and their loved ones to celebrate and recognize their achievement and the new career paths this program will offer them. With their new training, the graduates will go on to pursue work as peer counselors and advocates. 

As graduates were presented with their diplomas, Kelly Dickson, Peer Counseling Coordinator, said a few words about each. Some of the wonderful words used to describe the graduates were compassionate, insightful, eager to learn, sincere, and confident.  One of the unique aspects of this program is that each graduate had his/her own mentor.  During the ceremony each mentor, who are former graduates of the peer counseling program, not only told their own story, but also what it has been like mentoring and getting to know their mentee. Other speakers for the festivities included: Adrienne Sheff, Director of Adult Services; Greg Walston, Assistant Director of Community Support Services; and, Donna Lavery, Program Manager.

The Peer Counseling Program is an intense 12 week program. It has an academically challenging syllabus with reading and writing assignments, tests, research paper and life skills presentation. This course also requires individuals to complete 96 intern hours before graduation.  Beyond these requirements, this program is a time for self-reflection and evaluation, which ultimately helps them improve as individuals. The San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center is one of only three certified programs in Los Angeles County.

A wonderful lunch served at the Victory Wellness Center followed.