Critical Issues in Leadership Development for Peer Support Specialists

G. Trey Jenkins, Michael S. Shafer, Nicole Janich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This paper is a qualitative analysis of perspectives on leadership development among working peer support specialists and highlights the challenges, needs and efficacy these individuals experience in their work settings. Six participants engaged in a 2 h semi-structured focus group. Participants were guided through a series of nine questions regarding their transition to leadership, professional communication and relationships. Seven themes emerged: managing dual relationships; having difficult conversations; push and pull of leadership; taking responsibility for others; taking responsibility for self-care; addressing stigma in the workplace, and, spirituality/a calling to help. These professionals integrate their personal experiences of recovery into their direct care and leadership approaches in the workplace. This blending of recovery concepts and supervision approaches reflect some of the powerful elements that peer recovery specialists are uniquely qualified to lead in the healthcare workforce. These findings provide important implications for leadership development among this growing segment of the healthcare workforce.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1085-1094
Number of pages10
JournalCommunity Mental Health Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Leadership
  • Lived experience
  • Peer support
  • Recovery
  • Supervision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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