Walking the tight rope of lived experience and evidence based best practice as a service, and as an individual.

Posted on April 4, 2017 by Addiction Editor

The 4th Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference will be held at Mantra on View Hotel, Gold Coast on 15th – 17th May.

Topics include:

  • Navigating the service system
  • Training and Support of AOD workers
  • Issues within rural and remote communities
  • Cultural safety and sensitivity when working with specific population groups
  • Emerging trends
  • Trauma informed services
  • The lived experience and their supporters

Dr Louise Du Chesne, Clinical Services Manager at The Hader Clinic joins us at the conference next month to discuss ‘Walking the tight rope of lived experience and evidence based best practice as a service, and as an individual’.

“Lived Experience (LE) workers have been the backbone of many residential rehabilitation and other addiction services in Australia.  In recent years the sector has changed with growing recognition of the needs of dual diagnosis clients.  Services have responded by employing clinical staff with expertise in treating mental illness. The challenge has been to develop a workforce that recognises the value of lived experience workers and the importance of employing highly qualified clinicians.

LE workers help improve understandings of addiction; correct myths and stereotypes about addiction; reduce fear, shame and stigma. As living examples of recovery from addiction they encourage people to seek support. Clients describe reduced shame, a sense of identification and of being understood by workers who have walked a similar path to their own.  Having a worker share their own journey out of addiction instils hope in clients that they might also recover.

While LE workers make a significant and valuable contribution to the sector this can come at a cost.  These workers risk relapse and burn out if not adequately skilled and supported.  Without adequate training LE workers may over identify with clients, struggle with boundaries and adopt rigid views about recovery pathways.

There can be a divide within the workforce between those with and without a personal history of addiction.  LE workers may distrust qualified professionals in the addiction field who have no experience of addiction themselves.  Likewise, these professionals may minimise or invalidate the lived experience of recovering addicts or view them as “senior patients”.

This paper explores some of the common hurdles in addiction treatment centres that employ professional and lived experience workers. It then provides an overview of a clinical supervision model that integrates the contributions of clinical staff both with and without lived experience.

A case example is provided of a clinical supervision group whose members include both highly qualified professionals and LE workers.  The group shares their diverse experience and knowledge of addiction and mental health gained from university and from personal experience.

For more information on the upcoming 2017 Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference and to secure your spot, please visit addictionaustralia.org.au.

 

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