Self-Care Practices of Female Peer Support Specialists with Co-Occurring Mood and Substance Use Disorders
AuthorWohlert, Beverly Ann
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe purpose of this study was to better understand the self-care practices of female peer support specialists (PSS) with co-occurring mood and substance use disorders. The researcher took a qualitative grounded theory approach conducting in-depth semi-structured interviews with ten women employed at peer-run agencies in Maricopa County, Arizona. Data from these interviews were transcribed, then analyzed manually, as well as with NVivo 10.0 software, to identify the key terms, nodes, categories and emergent themes of the participants' experiences. Self-care practices of peer support specialists included accessing personal and professional support networks; maintaining a daily routine to balance the demands of recovery, parenting, and working; taking medications; sleeping; practicing spirituality; participating in service work; eating nutritiously; exercising, and building a sense of coherence. Although a variety of practices were being used and identified as helpful, spirituality was identified as the most important self-care practice to achieve overall wellness. Employment improved the ability for PSSs to practice self-care because they valued the support of their supervisors and coworkers, were reminded of the consequences of not practicing self-care by working with individuals who were unstable, gained knowledge from teaching others, found healing in telling their stories, and reported higher self-esteems from working and helping others. However, participants did identify ways that employment as a PSS could interfere with practicing self-care, such as staff turnover, limited access to supervisors, or being unprepared to work in the field. Several recommendations were suggested as a result of this study, such as the importance of understanding and using effective self-care practices, building personal and professional support networks, and establishing daily routines to balance recovery with personal and professional demands.
Degree ProgramGraduate College