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Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

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Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

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AMA w/ Dr. Anneliese de Wet (Feb. 16th, 2024) – Stigma & Stigma Resistance… the #1 Reason for Peer Worker Turnover

You’re invited to ask an expert about another interesting topic related to employment! This free event is not a presentation, but rather an interactive question & answer webinar. And YOU provide the questions!

Ask Me Anything About: Stigma & Stigma Resistance...the #1 Reason for Peer Worker Turnover w/ Dr. Anneliese de Wet

Anneliese de Wet completed her PhD in Psychology at Stellenbosch University in South Africa in December 2020. Prior to coming to the United States, she developed an individual measure of recovery for a South African context by exploring the understanding of recovery, as well as the barriers and facilitators of recovery, for people using services, their careers and service providers. Previously, she explored the lived experience of recovery from first-episode psychosis in a South African sample and worked on a Canadian CIHR-funded international, multi-site study on community engagement in HIV vaccine research. 

Anneliese is particularly interested in peer support work. She recently completed a research project in which she tried to understand how mental health peer specialists withstand or shield themselves against experiences of prejudice and discrimination on the job.

Submit webinar questions before the webinar to:

Lyn Legere, MS at

The registration and webinar will be conducted through Zoom Conferencing. Once you complete the registration process you will receive an e-mail with the Zoom link for the webinar. If you do not have the Zoom app installed on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, you will be directed through the download process upon registration.

Boston University provides reasonable accommodation upon request. Please send an email to 14 days prior to the event with the specific accommodations you require. If less than 14 days remain until the event, please submit your request the same day you register, or as soon as possible, so we can make every effort to accommodate you.


Register here.

February 8, 2024articleama announcements employment peer-support webinar
College Mental Health Education Programs: Accessing Facilitation Guides, Curriculum, and Support (Jan. 23rd, 2024)

Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation


Join us JANUARY 23, 2024 – 2:00pm-3:00pm

The College Mental Health Education Programs (CMHEP) team at Boston University has partnered with colleges, universities, and organizations across the United States and internationally to successfully adapt and adopt several curricula designed to support college students facing mental health challenges during their higher education journey. CMHEP provides structured lesson plans that are tailored to the unique needs of schools and organizations, offering detailed facilitation guides, workshops, and support. Their programs combine wellness and resiliency skill building with academic instruction and coaching, delivered as in-person or distance learning opportunities, to help students who are struggling on campus to thrive. In this webinar, presenters will share details of three specific, open-access programs designed to help students facing mental health challenges. Participants will be encouraged to rethink how we deliver college mental health services to include recovery and rehabilitation interventions that can support students with mental health conditions to remain in, return to college, and develop new strategies to alleviate the burden on staff.





Chelsea Cobb, LMHC

Assistant Director, College Mental Health Education Initiatives



Ali Theis, LICSW

Senior Training Associate, College Mental Health Education Programs




, January 19, 2024services updatesannouncements cmhep
MSER with Dr. Marta Elliott, PhD (Jan. 31st, 2024) – Benefits and Challenges of Employment for Individuals Diagnosed with Mental Illness: Qualitative Findings and Ongoing Research

 Dr. Marta Elliott is a Foundation Professor of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Reno who graduated with a PhD in Sociology from The Johns Hopkins University in 1995. She specializes in the social determinants of mental health, the causes and consequences of mental illness stigma, and the subjective perspectives of people diagnosed with mental illness. She is writing a book entitled Borderpolars that features perspectives of people diagnosed with and bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. Ever wonder what researchers are finding out about employment for people with mental illnesses/mental health conditions? The Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation is pleased to present “Making Sense of Employment Research”, a webinar series designed to discuss a recent published research study, in a clear and relevant way, even for those who know little or nothing about research. “Benefits and Challenges of Employment for Individuals Diagnosed with Mental Illness: Qualitative Findings and Ongoing Research” During this Webinar, Dr. Elliott will present qualitative findings from interviews she conducted with working professionals who self-identified as having mental illness. The results will be drawn primarily from this publication, co-authored with Jordan Reuter. The presentation will highlight benefits and challenges people reported about being employed, and about having mental illness on the job. It will also explore policy implications of the findings and a preview of her ongoing related research. January 31st Join Us: 12:00 pm EST Register Here: WN_ruYtVfjpTsO9mfD_zkJ9Ag#/registration This event is supported by funding from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant 90RTEM0004). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this project do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Register HERE ( or go to : event has passed. View the recording in our archives here.

, , January 8, 2024guest-contributor research updatesannouncements employment mser psychiatric-rehabilitation serious-mental-illness webinar
KT Academy / CeKTER Webinar with Marianne Farkas, ScD (Jan. 8th, 2024) – Training Your Staff: What Works? What Doesn’t?

In-service staff training, regardless of staff discipline has long been a central tool to develop the ability of providers to translate research findings about new approaches to working with service users, into practice. Training staff on an ongoing basis to deliver new interventions, however, is a costly enterprise both in terms of the cost of the training itself, as well as the cost of covering for staff who are absent due to the training. As a result, the most popular trainings are brief seminars or workshops. The webinar will present answers to questions such as: What have we learned before and during the pandemic about this strategy for implementing new interventions to benefit those being served? Are there solid principles for developing training programs that will achieve new competencies or strengthen current ones that program managers, agency leaders, trainers should know when creating a strategic plan for developing the workforce? Marianne Farkas, ScD Dr. Farkas is a Professor (Clinical) at Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Boston University, Director of Training, Dissemination & TA at the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation and is one of the two co-PI leading the Center on Knowledge Translation for Employment Research (CeKTER). She has authored or co-authored over 150 journal articles and book chapters, 4 textbooks, and 10 multimedia training packages for professionals and peers. The contents of this website were funded by the National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). Grant #90DPEM0004. NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL). ACL in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this website do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, or HHS and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

This event has passed. View the recording in our archives here.

November 24, 2023updatesannouncements cekter knowledge-translation kt-academy psychiatric-rehabilitation training webinar
MSER with Paul J. Margolies, PhD and I-Chin Chiang, MS (Nov. 15th, 2023) – IPS Supported Employment in the 2020’s: New York State Experience

Making Sense of Employment Research: IPS Supported Employment in the 2020’s: New York State Experience Date & Time: Nov 15, 2023 01:00 PM The world was a different place when IPS was introduced more than three decades ago. Yet despite changes in the economy, employment opportunities, hiring practices, evolution of the Internet and the ubiquity of mobile devices, and our experience of the COVID-19 pandemic, IPS has continued to be the gold standard. Today’s webinar will explore two papers based upon data collected through New York State’s extensive IPS initiative which focus on successful IPS implementation in the 2020’s. Two questions addressed are whether digital platforms (e.g., employers’ websites and online application processes) have diminished the importance of IPS employment specialists’ time spent in the community, and what has been the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on IPS implementation and outcomes? Paul J. Margolies, Ph.D. is Associate Director for Practice Innovation and Implementation at the Center for Practice Innovations at Columbia Psychiatry (CPI), located at New York State Psychiatric Institute and Associate Professor of Clinical Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry) at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Margolies is a licensed psychologist who received his doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. I-Chin Chiang, M.S. is Director of Data Analytics at the Center for Practice Innovations at Columbia Psychiatry (CPI), located at New York State Psychiatric Institute. Ms. Chiang received her training in computer science from the California State University, Fullerton and the University of California, Irvine, and considers herself as a generalist with experience in database development, data analysis & reporting, and quality assurance testing.

This event has passed. View the recording in our archives.

, , October 17, 2023guest-contributor research updatesannouncements employment mser psychiatric-rehabilitation supported-employment
Cognitive Self-Management Strategies for Work and School

by Dr. Susan McGurk and Dr. Kim Mueser


We are constantly barraged in our daily lives with new information competing for our limited attention. And there is even more information available than ever before, at the tip of our fingers, on our cell phones and computers. We need to manage the beckoning alerts of tweets, beeps, pings, and other sounds our devices make to inform us something “important” has happened (such as receiving a cell phone text) or try to be mindful of the accumulation of unanswered messages, posts, and other communications whose arrival we have allowed to go unannounced. Our computers and cell phones are a minefield of emails, prompts, and the bottomless pit of the internet, promising infinite information without protection from the perils of endless distractions. Even the mere presence of your (turned-off) cell phone can drain your attention. It is not surprising then, that we often end our day feeling mentally exhausted but without completing the tasks that we need to get done.


Although attention is a keystone thinking skill and a precious, limited resource for managing information, it is just one of several cognitive domains that serve us in our day-to-day lives. We also need to learn and remember information, plan ahead, solve problems, and think on our feet. One other often neglected, but critical thinking area is self-thinking. Negative thinking can adversely impact our confidence and effort to achieve what we want to. We need skills to enhance our awareness of such thoughts, challenge them, and replace with them with more optimistic, hopeful, and realistic thoughts. Optimistic thoughts about ourselves and our ability to achieve our daily tasks and reach our long-term goals can fuel the effort that we need to succeed. Proficiency in the full range of areas of cognitive functioning are critical to achieving goals such as returning to school, completing a degree, getting, and keeping work, living independently, making, and keeping friends, and having deep and rewarding relationships.


The good news is that we can sharpen and extend our mental capabilities and maximize our chances of succeeding in any area we choose.  We can do all of this by using cognitive self-management strategies. Although some may not be familiar with the term “cognitive self-management strategies,” all of us almost certainly use at least some these strategies in our daily lives. Have you ever:

  • set an alarm to remember to take a medication, feed the dog, or turn off the oven?
  • left yourself a phone message to remember to send a birthday card to your mother?
  • tied a string around your finger as a reminder to buy milk?
  • put your keys in a special place when you come home so you know where you can find them?


If so, then you’ve used cognitive self-management strategies. And if you have used one of the above, then you’ve probably used some of the other many possible strategies. While everyone uses cognitive self-management strategies, the more we use the better, and everyone can benefit from learning more strategies or how to use them more efficiently.


We describe below self-management strategies for optimizing and extending thinking skills that can be used in all walks of life. Self-management strategies help us utilize our cognitive skills and the demands on them to maximize their efficiency and effectiveness. Additionally, and perhaps surprisingly, practice and expertise in using these strategies, and incorporating them into our daily routines, further enhances our cognitive abilities in areas such as attention, memory, planning, and flexible (and positive) thinking! Thus, in addition to helping compensate for the cognitive limits everyone has in specific cognitive areas and extending our cognitive reach, practiced use of these strategies can also improve our raw brain power.


Learning and using cognitive self-management strategies can help optimize functioning across a range of daily life activities, such as self-care (such as grooming and hygiene, sleep, managing a medical condition), organizing one’s living space, planning for meals, shopping, connecting with friends or family, work or school, and just plain enjoying life (such as getting out to that movie we’ve been thinking of seeing). For example, common problems such as being late or missing appointments, having difficulty keeping focused on a task, or forgetting instructions or someone’s name can all be prevented by using strategies such as maintaining a personal schedule (and using alarms as needed), removing distractions from one’s environment (such as cell phone or computer alerts), and repeating back/paraphrasing what someone has just said, respectively. Some of these strategies focus primarily on one area of cognitive functioning, such as reducing distractions in one’s environment to improve attention and concentration. Other strategies are helpful for improving the broad range of cognitive performance in daily life (e.g., attention, memory, problem solving), such as developing routines at home, when looking for a job, and at school or work. Because obtaining a job (or getting a promotion at work) or completing a degree or certificate program at school are very common goals for people that have a range of cognitive demands, we address some self-management strategies that are particularly helpful for success in these areas.


The table below contains examples of cognitive areas that are important for work and school, signs of a problem related to each cognitive area, and self-management strategies for addressing (or preventing) each problem


Thinking Skill Signs of Problem Self-Management Strategy
Attention -Having to frequently re-read sections of a homework assignment


-Forgetting a step of a task at work

-Identify and eliminate distractions (e.g., turn off TV, radio, email alerts, and phone; put phone in a different room)


-Follow along passages with a finger

-Read out loud


-Increase attention span by scheduling brief rest breaks between work periods (with a timer) and gradually increasing the focused time during work periods




-Can’t find your stuff before leaving the house for work or school



-Difficulty finding things you need at work or for school (such as supplies, tools, books, stationary, etc.)

-Designate special places (or memory spots) to put things needed when leaving the house (wallet, car keys) and work/school supplies (such as ID badge, uniform, keys)

-Organize work or study space to avoid misplacing things and wasting time looking for them

-Forgetting instructions from supervisor right after hearing them -Repeat back or paraphrase instructions to ensure that they have been heard correctly and retained in memory
Planning -Missing appointments -Keep an appointment book or schedule
-Showing up unprepared for class -Create a checklist – update it daily or weekly to keep track of and prioritize assignments
-Falling asleep at work or in class -Develop a bedtime routine, including what time to be in bed with the lights out
-Feeling like you can’t get anything done -Prioritize tasks using checklists or to-do lists


-Develop routines for home, work, and/or school to increase efficiency for daily tasks in order to save time to accomplish important things

-Often being late to work or class -Develop a home routine for getting ready before leaving the house at a specific time
Problem solving -Getting flustered by unexpected problems -Use 5 Steps of Problem-Solving to solve unexpected problems:

a) Define the problem

b) Brainstorm possible solutions

c) Weigh the pros and cons of solutions

d) Pick the best solution (or combination)

e) Plan how to implement chosen solution


-Identify a “problem solving” helper at work (coworker, supervisor) or school (academic advisor, classmate, specific teacher) who you feel comfortable asking for help

Optimistic/ realistic thinking (vs. negative, self-defeating thinking) -Feeling hopeless about reaching goals


-Losing motivation to keep trying at work or school


-Feeling “down-in-the-dumps” or bad about yourself

-Recognize, challenge, and change inaccurate, self-defeating thinking underlying negative or distressing feelings


-Be aware of your personal strengths, including your skills, personal qualities, and resources


-Write down your strengths on an index card and carry it around


-Ask friends or family members for input  about your strengths


-Remind yourselves of your strengths throughout the day


The Thinking Skills for Work* program contains a rich curriculum of cognitive self-management strategies which are incorporated into a series of educational handouts for clients. The self management topics include Cognitive Skills for Work, Recognizing Your Strengths, Challenging Negative Thinking, Improving Attention and Concentrations, Reducing Memory Difficulties, Getting Organized at Home, Getting Organized for Your Job Search, Planning Ahead, Solving Problems, and, Improving Thinking Speed. The handouts provide information about strategies for improving cognitive performance at work in attention and concentration, memory, information processing speed, planning, and solving problems. In addition, several other handouts are devoted to enhancing motivation which can contribute to greater effort and persistence at cognitive tasks, including understanding the relationship between cognitive functioning and work (Cognitive Skills for Work)developing an awareness of one’s personal strengths (Recognizing Your Strengths), and overcoming negative thinking or defeatist thinking that can interfere with getting or keeping a job (Challenging Negative Thinking), (e.g., “No one will ever hire me for a job”). Strategies geared toward successful work are also highly applicable to success in school. The Thinking Skills for Work intervention is a comprehensive program for improving and optimizing your cognitive skills. A comprehensive description of the program can be found at here

*SR McGurk, KT Mueser (2021). Cognitive Remediation for Successful Employment and Psychiatric Recovery: The Thinking Skills for Work Program. Guilford Press, New York.

Information about the book can be found here.

, October 11, 2023article researchcognitive-remediation employment psychiatric-rehabilitation
MSER with Dr. Judith Cook (Sept. 13th, 2023) – Developing a Peer Workforce for Provision of IPS: What Can Research Tell Us?

Developing a Peer Workforce for Provision of IPS: What Can Research Tell Us? This webinar draws on findings from a project in which vocational staff of a peer-run program were trained to deliver IPS along with work-focused health and wellness supports. Recipients of peer-delivered IPS plus health promotion achieved higher rates of competitive employment compared to those receiving peer-delivered generic supported employment services. The peer IPS team also achieved high fidelity to the IPS model's principles and practices. Discover the benefits of integrating peer support into the delivery of evidence based IPS, and what research reveals tells us about how this can be done. Dr. Judith Cook is an internationally recognized authority on mental health services research, specifically the study of clinical and rehabilitation outcomes of children and adults receiving community-based care. She directs a federally funded research center along with numerous grants and contracts focused on intervention science, psychiatric epidemiology, and outcomes research. She designs and implements innovative programs to enhance the health and behavioral health of vulnerable populations. She works with federal, state and local authorities on behavioral health service system redesign and alternative financing strategies. Her recent work focuses on randomized controlled trials of evidence-based practice treatments for serious mental illness, and outcomes of individuals with co-occurring mental illness and chronic medical conditions. She consults with federal agencies including the National Institutes of Health, Social Security Administration, Department of Labor, Government Accountability Office, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and Veteran’s Administration. This event is supported by funding from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant 90RTEM0004). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).


This event has passed. View the recording in our archives, here.

, , August 28, 2023guest-contributor research updatesemployment mser peer-support psychiatric-rehabilitation webinar
MSER with Dr. Susan McGurk (June 12th, 2023) – Does Race Influence Response to Cognitive Remediation and Vocational Services in People with Severe Mental Illnesses?

Title: “Does Race Influence Response to Cognitive Remediation and Vocational Services in People with Severe Mental illnesses?” Description: Research shows that Black adults with SMI have lower employment rates as compared to White adults with SMI. Black adults report more negative experiences when receiving mental health services, resulting in higher attrition rates in vocational services. There is a lack of knowledge about whether evidence based cognitive remediation and vocational programs are successful in engaging Black adults in ways that support their employment goals. This presentation will discuss the article “Comparison of Black and White participants with severe mental illness in response to cognitive remediation as an augmentation of vocational rehabilitation”. Dr. Susan McGurk, PhD is a trained neuropsychologist and professor in the Departments of Occupational Therapy and Psychological Brain Sciences at Boston University. She is Director of Cognitive Remediation Initiatives at BU’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation where she studies cognitive remediation methods to promote employment, academic pursuits, and independent living in persons living with sever mental illnesses.

This event has passed. View the recording in our archives here.

, May 23, 2023research updatesannouncements employment mser psychiatric-rehabilitation webinar
AMA Webinar with with Guest Expert Noah Abdenour (May 12th, 2023) – Influencing State Policy Regarding Peer Support

Ask me anything about employment - interactive Q & A webinars with an expert in employment

Influencing State Policy Regarding Peer Support with guest expert Noah Abdenour. ASK ME ANYTHING INTERACTIVE WEBINARS WITH AN EXPERT IN EMPLOYMENT

Save the Date: Friday, May 12th 12:00- 1:00 PM EST BOSTON UNIVERSITY You’re invited to ask an expert about another interesting topic related to employment! This free event is not a presentation but rather an interactive question & answer webinar. And YOU provide the questions. Submit webinar questions before the webinar Le MS’

This event has passed. View the recording in our archives here.

, , April 24, 2023guest-contributor research updatesama announcements employment peer-support psychiatric-rehabilitation webinar
Coaching for Peer Specialists

by Sally Rogers and Lyn Legere



The role of peer specialists in behavioral health settings has grown dramatically in the last couple of decades. But, as a relatively new addition to the workforce, it is experiencing “growing pains”. Common experiences relayed by peer support workers include a lack of clarity about how their role fits into the mental health workplace and confusion about what their work tasks should and should not be. For some behavioral healthcare workers, research suggests that this results in stress, distress and burnout, all of which have worsened because of the pandemic (Edú-Valsania, Laguía, & Moriano, 2022; Sklar, Ehrhart, & Aarons, 2021).

The Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation has a long history of collaborating with peer specialists in a variety of ways. In this case, we wanted to support peer workers and were troubled by the usual approaches. We often saw solutions suggesting that the peer worker needed therapeutic intervention or that the job needed to be redesigned to lessen the stress. We found both of these approaches to be objectionable, as they merely reinforced the idea of pathology on the part of the peer worker rather than considering the work setting issues related to integrating a new workforce.

Looking at the situation from a workforce perspective, we decided to address this problem with a somewhat novel approach: that of coaching. We know that coaching is an effective tool and has now been applied not only to the sports context, but to lifestyles, wellness, and recovery (Sforzo, et al., 2018; Grover & Furnham, 2016). Most relevant, it has proliferated in work settings, including Executive Coaching. We wondered if Executive Coaching for peer specialists, which keeps the focus squarely on the workplace, might be an effective approach to address work related stressors.

an image with the word coaching connected to the words potential, development, skill, and support

Coaching shares many values of peer support, which makes it very attractive. Some of the advantages of coaching support is that it focuses on establishing a good working relationship and mutual respect, on co-developing goals, and on bringing self-directed strategies to bear to support the person as they strive to reach their goals.

However, we wanted to differentiate coaching for peer workers from typical “Executive Coaching” in that we did not want to have any affiliation with the person’s employer. Coachees were free to tell their supervisors about the coaching, should they choose. At the same time, we believed that having a firewall between the employer and the coach gave the peer worker a greater sense of safety to fully share their work situation without fear of reprisal.

In 2019, the Center submitted a proposal to develop and research this virtual coaching intervention for peer support workers to the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, which was funded.

To develop the coaching program, we consulted experts in both fields: peer support practice and coaching. We got input from a small group of peer specialists/advocates and also from the Harvard Institute on Coaching (to learn more about coaching from this institute, visit: Since the coaching would be focused on work issues, it was clear to us that the coaches must have experience as a peer support worker as well as coaching skills. Lyn Legere, herself certified as a life coach and a peer specialist, took the lead on the development of the coaching guide, working with Zlatka Russinova, Director of Research at the Center, and the input of consultants.

The peer worker coaching manual consists of several sections providing guidance to coaches. One important section specific to this coaching intervention is “Coaching vs. Peer Support.” The coach’s background in peer support provides knowledge needed to understand challenges that coachees may be experiencing. Here, however, their role is that of a coach. We were very fortunate to have hired two highly experienced peer specialists who were trained to be coaches for this study and who have done an exemplary job.

Another important section of the manual is what we called the Topical Guide. This section focuses on areas that we know can be particularly challenging in peer work, including:

· Role Overload

· Role Confusion/Ambiguity

· Work/Life Imbalance

· Stigma and Role Devaluation in the Workplace

· Dealing with Conflict in the Workplace

· Training Gaps or Job Mismatch

· It is What it Is: Dealing with Issues Beyond your Control

· Wellness Tools for Work

Each section has information on the topic as well as tips, strategies and worksheets that can be used in whatever ways seems useful to the coachee.

an image of a woman meeting virtually on a computer


Of course, funded research has to see how effective any newly developed intervention is. Using surveys, we are trying to learn if the coaching had an effect for people in areas such as role clarity, role confusion, burnout, job satisfaction, organizational climate, job stressors, and turnover intention. Participants complete the survey measures when they first enroll in coaching, and then at the 4, 6 and 9-months mark.

Since this study was developed as a randomized trial, only half of the people we enrolled will get the full coaching (designed to be up to 16 weeks long) and the other half are offered one informational session. This will allow us to make good comparisons about the effect of the coaching. Because the project is ongoing, we do not have this data compiled yet, but hope to have some initial outcomes by the endo of 2023.

In the meantime, we have also been conducting qualitative interviews with folks who have received coaching. From these interviews, we are learning of the value that participants place on having a knowledgeable peer specialist/coach to discuss their workplace difficulties with, someone who can provide perspective, context, and understanding. Here are some of the things the coachees said:

• “Coaching helped humanize my work”

• “My coach was a lifeline during a difficult time for me personally”

• “I could trust my coach when I hadn’t trusted other providers”

• “Coaching was terrific”

• “It was lifechanging for me…I learned about myself as a peer and it helped me in my life”

• “Personal growth and development—coaching helped me be the best me that I could be and bring that to work’’

• “They listened…”

• “Overall, for me, what feels the most helpful, is knowing that when Sunday at 1 comes, there was somebody who gets it, who gets what it’s like to do this work, who gets what it means to have a mental health condition—that alone has been helpful—knowing this carried me through each week”

For those interested in learning more about the work of peer specialists, please visit the NAPS website:

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also has information about peer specialists: their role and their competencies.;


If you want additional information about this project, please contact E. Sally Rogers, Project Director at or Lyn Legere, Senior Training Associate at




Edú-Valsania, S., Laguía, A., & Moriano, J. A. (2022). Burnout: A review of theory and measurement. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(3), 1780.


Grover, S., & Furnham, A. (2016). Coaching as a developmental intervention in organisations: A systematic review of its effectiveness and the mechanisms underlying it. PloS One, 11(7). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0159137


Sklar, M., Ehrhart, M. G., & Aarons, G. A. (2021). COVID-related work changes, burnout, and turnover intentions in mental health providers: A moderated mediation analysis. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 44(3), 219.


Sforzo, G. A., Kaye, M. P., Todorova, I., Harenberg, S., Costello, K., Cobus-Kuo, L., . . . Moore, M. (2018). Compendium of the Health and Wellness Coaching Literature. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 12(6), 436-447. doi:10.1177/1559827617708562

, , April 13, 2023article research servicescoaching employment peer-support psychiatric-rehabilitation
MSER with Matthew J. Smith, PhD (March 31st, 2023) – Virtual Reality Job Interview Training

Ever wonder what researchers are finding out about employment for people with mental illnesses/mental health conditions? BUCPR is pleased to present "Making Sense of Employment Research", a webinar series designed to discuss a recent published research study in a clear and relevant way, even for those who know little or nothing about research. Presentation: "Virtual Reality Interview Training: An Enhancement to IPS Supported Employment for Adults with Serious Mental Illness" Dr. Smith's presentation will focus on his program of research that develops and evaluates virtual reality job interview training as an enhancement to existing employment services. In particular, the individual placement and support model of supported employment. Matthew J. Smith, PhD, is a Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Smith is the director of the NIH-Funded Level Up: Employment Skills Simulation Lab. The mission of his lab is to develop and evaluate technology-based interventions to help obtain and sustain employment for people from marginalized and underserved communities. Join us: March 31st, 2023, 12 pm EST. Register at

This event has passed. View the recording in our archives here

, , March 15, 2023guest-contributor research updatesannouncements employment mser psychiatric-rehabilitation webinar
AMA Webinar with Peer Support Expert Amy Pierce (Feb. 13th, 2023) – Supervising the Peer Workforce in Behavioral Health Settings

Ask Me Anything: Supervising the Peer Workforce in Behavioral Health Settings 

Ask me anything about employment - interactive Q & A webinars with an expert in employment

You’re invited to ask an expert about another interesting topic related to employment! This free event is not a presentation, but rather an interactive question & answer webinar. And YOU provide the questions.

Save the Date:  Monday, February 13th at 12:00 – 1:00  PM (Eastern)

Ask Me Anything About …

Supervising the Peer Workforce in Behavioral Health Settings with guest expert Amy Pierce

Amy Pierce, MHPS, PSS, ALF 

Amy has been working in the peer movement in the State of Texas for almost two decades and now serves as the Recovery Institute Deputy Director.  Previously, she was the CEO of Resiliency Unleashed, an international training and consulting company focusing on the development and implementation of peer services. She started the first peer support program in the Texas State hospital system, was a peer support worker in a community mental health agency and served as the Program Coordinator for a transitional peer residential housing project funded through the 1115 waiver program. Amy has held supervisory roles within these programs, developing training for providers across Texas and beyond.  Amy is a Mental Health Peer Specialist, a Certified Peer Specialist Supervisor, and trainer/facilitator (Advanced Level Wrap facilitator, ASIST trainer, WHAM facilitator). Amy is a previous chair of the PAIMI council and is a current board member for Disability Rights Texas.

Zoom Registration:

Submit webinar questions before the webinar to

Lyn Legere, MS at

Tech Requirements:
The registration and webinar will be conducted through Zoom Conferencing. Once you complete the registration process you will receive an e-mail with the Zoom link for the webinar. If you do not have the Zoom app installed on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, you will be directed through the download process upon registration.

Accommodation Requests: 
Boston University provides reasonable accommodation upon request. Please send an email to 14 days prior to the event with the specific accommodations you require. If less than 14 days remain until the event, please submit your request the same day you register, or as soon as possible, so we can make every effort to accommodate you.


This event has passed. View the webinar recording in our archives here.

, , January 5, 2023guest-contributor research updatesama announcements employment peer-support psychiatric-rehabilitation webinar
Online Technical Assistance Model: Action as a Precursor to Knowledge

The Online Technical Assistance (OTAR) model  was developed as a pilot program, with the goal of assisting organizations (e.g. state agencies, providers, for- and non-profit entities) that want to improve  their employment outcomes for people with psychiatric disabilities by improving their policies, funding, and system design.

Two elements of this are:

Program providers perform an assessment of the need for “technical assistance” (TA) services around a specific group of an organization’s [employment focused] goals for the clients or patients it serves. Once the needs of the organization are identified, the consultant develops a site-specific TA plan based on the organization’s response to this assessment. OTAR clarifies a focus on policy and systemic change within participant organizations more than it focuses on training or product development. The model also emphasizes the importance of assigning a subject matter expert (SME) for each organization. Often, it has been advantageous to pursue candidates new to the consulting field with an opportunity to be part of this team and take on this role.


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The second step is the construction of an implementation team which includes supervisory and clinical management staff as well as relevant partner organization personnel. The OTAR implementation team conducts regular Zoom calls to review the steps included in the plan.

Typically, sites begin their participation through word-of-mouth and email recruitment.

Once interest is expressed, potential sites are requested to answer the following simple questions:

  • What would you like to get out of OTAR this year?
  • What problems would you like the TA to solve or issues with which the TA might help?
  • What would you hope would be concretely different if the TA were successful?
  • If someone came back 1 year after the process was complete, what would that person see in terms of the system your organization uses to assist people with psychiatric disabilities become successfully employed?

Since the project commenced in 10/19, OTAR has worked with several organizations across the country. They have included:

  • 3 State Behavioral Health systems
  • 1 county Behavioral Health system
  • 2 State public VR systems
  • 2 statewide non-profit employment service providers’offering services to job seekers with psychiatric disabilities
  • 1 county based non-profit employment service provider that aids clients with behavioral health disabilities
  • 1 large city housing provider that serves thousands of people with various barriers to employment including behavioral health problems, homelessness, poverty
  • 1 mental health oriented social service housing and clinical organization in a farm like environment
  • 1 small rural housing provider that serves 20 people who have experienced mental illness
  • 4 CMHCs that offer an array of behavioral health services including employment
  • 1 large behavioral health managed care entity serving a large portion of a state
  • 1 large statewide consumer run organization that provides peer supports, community psychiatric rehabilitation, and housing services.

The specific requests for TA varied by site but most incorporated the importance of employment as a core part of Recovery planning in clinical services instead of as a referral point to an employment unit. These included both micro-level discussions on motivating clinical staff to generate interest in employment with their clients and a broader systems-level focus on creating large scale policy and funding models to increase employment outcomes. A few projects related to how to create a system of financial planning advice early in the process for job seekers with disabilities, albeit one short of the more time-consuming full SSA benefits analysis.

So, what have we learned?

  • Remote technical assistance can be useful to a variety of settings interested in enhancing the role of employment within Recovery oriented systems of care.
  • It is useful to engage potential recipients in a self-assessment to help define the concrete activities that might attend to the needs identified – the more concrete the recipient organization is on stating needs, the easier it is to respond effectively.
  • It is often the case that the first needs organizations identify as those impeding employment are not necessarily the same ones that emerge as the TA continues and other issues are examined.


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There are also downsides that have emerged from the online technical assistance model. The initial outreach and engagement with OTAR was presented as a joint priority of each partnering agency with the site’s focus on mental health and employment collaboration. In practice, the commitment to the planned efforts often continued only with some of the participating sites. This most commonly emerges in the context of an employment focused organization getting only intermittent support from the mental health organization (state or local) involved. While the agreement obtained from all sites was to involve at least one of the clinical supervisory and/ or executive level staff, some sites have had only intermittent buy-in from personnel at these levels.

Another downside is that site visits are typically used to expand the pool of informants about the local issues supporting or impeding employment. This activity gets lost with distance-TA-only conditions – those in which the consulting team only has direct involvement with the formal coordinating [on-site] group and captures only a limited view of the local environment. Another downside from the consultant perspective is that it is less satisfying and less fun to be unable to connect with local sites in a more personal relationship and to directly observe the impact of the program. It is conceivable that some form of hybrid model could address these issues in the future.

For more information about  OTAR services contact us at



, , December 22, 2022article research servicesconsulting employment psychiatric-rehabilitation technical-assistance
MSER Webinar with Dr. Wallis E. Adams (Dec. 7th, 2022) – The Peer Support Specialist Workforce During Covid-19: Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities

Ever wonder what researchers are finding out about employment for people with mental illnesses/mental health conditions? BUCPR is pleased to present "Making Sense of Employment Research", a webinar series designed to discuss a recent published research study in a clear and relevant way, even for those who know little or nothing about research. The COVID-19 related lockdowns of 2020 impacted all of us - including Peer Support. This webinar will explore how PSS experienced these changes, including challenges and benefits. Dr. Wallis E. Adams will review major findings from two national surveys of PSS conducted in May and December 2020, and discuss how lessons from this data can inform the future of the Peer Support Workforce. Dr. Wallis E. Adams is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at CSU East Bay in Hayward, CA., where she teaches courses related to the sociology of mental health, medical sociology, and research methods. Prior to this, she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Boston University's Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation. Her research focuses on recovery-oriented services, peer support, implementation science, stigma, and organizational culture.

This event has passed. View the recording and transcript in our archives here.

, , November 26, 2022guest-contributor research updatesannouncements employment mser peer-support psychiatric-rehabilitation webinar
Two-Part Webinar Series: “The Knowledge to Action Cycle: How Do I Apply it to My Work?” with Dr. Ian Graham (Nov. 16th and Dec. 12th, 2022)

Do you have research findings you want used? Do you want a way of getting findings implemented more effectively? The Knowledge to Action Cycle (KTA) breaks down the implementation process into 7 actionable phases, starting with determining the knowledge-practice/policy gap through to sustaining the change. The webinar series will help you apply the Knowledge to Action Cycle, developed by Dr. Ian Graham, to a project or initiative that you or your group have, for turning research findings into implementation activities. Dr. Graham is a Distinguished Professor in the School of Epidemiology & Public Health and School of Nursing at the University of Ottawa and a Senior Scientist at the Centre for Practice Changing Research at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. His areas of research are health services and knowledge translation / implementation science. Dr. Graham studies factors influencing the use of research and evidence in decision making and ways to promote its use. He was Vice President of Knowledge Translation and Public Outreach at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Dr. Graham has been inducted as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, New York Academy of Medicine and Royal Society of Canada. This webinar is for those working on knowledge translation of research findings related to employment and individuals with disabilities. In addition, anyone interested in the Knowledge to Action Cycle is welcome to participate.


These events have passed – view the recordings in our webinar archives.



, , November 9, 2022guest-contributor research updatesannouncements cekter knowledge-translation kt-academy psychiatric-rehabilitation webinar
The Peer Support Specialist Workforce: Where have we been and where are we going?

Brief History 

The Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation (CPR) at Boston University has partnered with the voices of those with lived experience from its’ earliest days (i.e., the voices of those who would eventually populate the peer support specialist workforce).  Luminaries in the field such as Pat Deegan, Judi Chamberlin and Dan Fisher, were among the many people with lived experience who collaborated with Bill Anthony and colleagues in the formative days of the CPR.  Due to the strong parallel in values of the CPR and the consumer/survivor/ex-patient (c/s/x) movement, it was only natural for each to support the work of the other.

The CPR was an ally in the advocacy work of movement activists.  Those early days focused on “consumer” voice and participation in mental health policy and practice, under the motto, “Nothing About Us Without Us.”  Simultaneously, the power of peer relationships in peoples’ healing and recovery, called “peer support” today,  was highlighted in Judi Chamberlin’s  seminal book, “On Our Own,” and incorporated into the values and practices of psychiatric rehabilitation.

Prior to Medicaid funding, some headway was made with the creation of a “consumer liaison” role in some states, and other nominal “consumer” roles in services.  However, even the willing were hindered by the usual issue, i.e., funding.

The “Certified Peer Support Specialist”

In 1999, the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network gained Medicaid approval (i.e. funding) for a new role – “Certified Peer Specialist” By 2005, states across the country began to follow Georgia’s lead and when the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) not only endorsed peer support as an emerging best practice in 2007, but encouraged states to utilize peer support,[1] the flood gates opened.  By 2016, there were at least 25,317 peer support specialists in the US.[2]  The rare “consumer” role of the 1990’s has now become a common role throughout behavioral health.[3]  It should be a time to celebrate all that has been accomplished, right?  Well, maybe….and maybe not.

Unintended Consequences

The word “peer” in “Certified Peer Specialist” is intentional and signifies the mutual relationship between two people with shared experience that was the hallmark of peer relationships in the c/s/x movement communities.  The intent of the “Certified Peer Specialist” role was simply to bring this impactful community role into services to create access for people who couldn’t access and get the benefit of peer-run agencies in the community. Peer support is meant to offer the comfort of “been there, done that” and the hope of “…and I’m not there now.” The peerness of the relationship – that is, no one holds power over the other – is what separates peer support from other roles and is often what opens the door to connection and trust.  There are many more professionals working in mental health, sharing their lived experience..  However, with or without lived experience, the traditional workforce still holds power over people in services.  An authentic peer specialist does not.  They are meant to be “in but not of” the system as a new and different type of provider unconnected to the culture of the medical model.

With hindsight, it’s clear that implementation of the role skipped the vital steps of preparing agencies and their staff for the influx of Certified Peer Specialists, resulting in a clash of cultures. (Byrne et al., 2019.  “The emphasis was initially on bringing the values and principles of peer-developed peer support into paid peer staff roles, but the ability to keep the focus on these values [is]often compromised by clinicians and administrators who do not understand or support the principles (Jones et al, 2020; Stastny & Brown, 2013).

Inevitably, the role has become co-opted, with “mutuality”, the first critical component of peer support to be set on a shelf to get dusty and forgotten. Similarly, “relationship,” is often sacrificed as peer support work often prioritizes the “deliverable” task at the expense of the relationship.   Here’s how one peer provider described their role,

They changed the scope of what peer support really is… Now there’s that movement that kind of makes people, what I like to refer to as mini clinicians. Minus the white coat, they’ve got their clipboard and they’re taking notes, ‘How does that make you feel?’” (Adams, W. 2020)[4]

Changing the Tide

The Center is dedicated to preserving the “peerness” of peer support specialists.  The Recovery Education Center, provides recovery/wellness education classes, many facilitated by people with lived experience who also provide one-to-one support to students in their classes.  Many former students go on to become facilitators and peer support specialists, themselves.

Research projects, in addition to having people with lived experience involved in research project design  have also focused on delivery of authentic peer support in services.  One example is the Vocational Peer Support (VPS) training that was developed and researched at the Center.  Another is a current study developing a way of providing Executive Coaching for peer supporters.

The Center’s Post-Doctoral Fellows have also focused on authentic peer support. The most recent example of this is Wallis Adams who, partnering with the National Association of Peer Supporters (NAPS) performed two studies:  The Impact of Covid on Peer Support Specialists and Barriers and Facilitators of Implementing Peer Support Services for Criminal Justice-Involved Individuals.

Continuing this tradition, the Center will be dedicating a series of webinars ( “Ask Me Anything”) on the peer support specialist workforce in 2023. Announcements will be made when registration is open for these.

The role of people with lived experience, as well as the peer support workforce, will continue to be at the heart of research, training and services at the Center.

[1] CMS Letter dated August 8, 2007 (SMDL #07-011).

[2] Wolf, J. (2018). National trends in peer specialist certification. Psychiatric Services 69 (10), 1049. This number does not include thousands of non-certified peer support workers as well as those employed in forensic, youth, parent partners, substance use and other behavioral, primary and integrated health settings as well as serving specific population groups.

[3] Cronise, R., Teixeira, C., Rogers, E. S., & Harrington, S.(2016) The peer support workforce: Results of a national survey.,  Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 39(3), 211-221.

[4] Adams, W. 2020. Unintended Consequences of Institutionalizing Peer Support Work in Mental Healthcare. Social Science & Medicine, 262.

, September 2, 2022article servicesemployment peer-support psychiatric-rehabilitation
What is Psychiatric Rehabilitation?

Welcome to the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation official blog! For our inaugural article, we thought we would tackle a basic question that the Center has contributed to answering over the years, i.e. What exactly is “psychiatric rehabilitation”?


The Deinstitutionalization Movement

Let’s begin by reviewing one of the most important factors in the historical context of the development of psychiatric rehabilitation: The deinstitutionalization movement in the United States and abroad.

Deinstitutionalization as a movement was motivated by an understanding that the typical incarceration of people with mental health conditions on locked wards in long-stay hospitals, was not necessary. We learned that it was possible to design effective services, in the least restrictive setting, while helping people to keep their personal dignity and self-determination. Following the release of the anti-psychotic, Thorazine and numerous other psychiatric medications, the in-patient census was reduced from approximately 560,000 people in psychiatric institutions in 1955, to approximately 70,000 by 1994. Even though President Kennedy’s Community Mental Health Centers Act of 1963 achieved a breakthrough in developing community services, more than 90% of people – many who spent virtually their entire lives in institutionalized psychiatric settings – moved into communities by the mid 1990’s, often still without sufficient support services in place.

a graph showing the decline in psychiatric institutionalization following the development of first antipsychotic drugs and medicaid/medicare

Marianne Farkas, Director of the Training, Dissemination, and Technical Assistance Division here at the Center, recalls doing a project at an in-patient institution in Maine, helping them to improve their deinstitutionalization efforts.  She encountered residents, such as 58-year-old Betty, who were leery of those efforts. Betty had lived in the institution for more than 25 years and was not eager to leave. It is not terribly difficult to understand such an attitude.  Betty watched other residents separated from their routines, caretakers, and friends as they were simply given a prescription for their medication and ushered out the door. These people were unprepared to choose or pursue valued roles in the community. In many cases, people had been institutionalized for so long that mere identification of a community role – something that requires self-knowledge about one’s values and possible options – was a seemingly monumental task. Marianne’s project focused on the facilitation of services to help Betty and others like her, to live in the community, rather than just get placed there, using psychiatric rehabilitation techniques.


Psychiatric Rehabilitation: A Response to the Deinstitutionalization Movement

As the Center’s founder, Bill Anthony once said “If deinstitutionalization was to give freedom to people with psychiatric disabilities, psychiatric rehabilitation would create the space and structure for a meaningful life within that freedom.”

So, what is psychiatric rehabilitation (PR)? The name can be a misleading.  It does not necessarily imply the involvement of a psychiatrist or really of any form of psychiatry. Rather, the term ‘psychiatric’ describes the disability that rehabilitation activities address, just as the term “physical’ rehabilitation describes the kind of condition (i.e., physical disabilities) addressed.  The term ‘rehabilitation’ indicates that the activities are concerned with the performance of a specific role (e.g., worker, student, parent) in specific environments.

PR helps people consider, research, choose and achieve a major role in a specific environment, that is personally meaningful.  These “role goals” may involve, for example, working part-time as cashier at McDonald’s or completing a Community College certificate in Addictions Counseling. The Center’s materials can help providers learn how to use PR techniques to facilitate a person identifying such goals ( e.g., rehabilitation readiness, setting an overall rehabilitation goal).

a word cloud of psychiatric, goal, mental health, and employment related content


Psychiatric Rehabilitation vs. Physical Rehabilitation

Different “role goals” make unique demands on an individual in order to succeed, regardless of the source of their challenges. Rehabilitation, of any kind, aims to restore functioning in people’s lives by teaching skills and modifying the environment in order to maximize independence. For example, being able to transfer from bed-to-chair might be a skill necessary for an individual with a spinal cord injury. Railings or other supports might, together with this skill, help that person to perform the tasks needed to succeed in their role as parent at home. In a work role, skills such as accepting negative feedback from a supervisor or improving job-specific skills might be critical for the individual. However, beyond skills, that same individual might need their workspace to conform to wheelchair accessibility guidelines, to support their ability to succeed at work. This combination of skill and environmental support allows the individual, regardless of their type of disability, to perform well in their preferred valued roles.


Psychiatric Rehabilitation Techniques Developed at the Center

Techniques developed at the Center transfer these ideas from the realm of physical rehabilitation to psychiatric services (e.g.. PR Functional Assessment and Skill Teaching) and help people in mental health recovery figure out and develop the skills they need  for their specific selected role goal. Young adults who live with mental health and/or substance use conditions who’ve experienced an interruption to their pursuit of higher education, develop critical skills and supports in the NITEO program, one of many College Mental Health Education Programs at the Center. NITEO supports young adults prepare for a successful re-entry to college. Beyond college, people who want to consider or succeed in work may struggle specifically with cognitive difficulties. Participating in Thinking Skills for Work, developed by the Center’s faculty (Susan McGurk and  Kim Mueser), has been demonstrated to improve employment outcomes when TSW is delivered together with Supported Employment. Thinking Skills for Work (TSW) trains people in core cognitive skills important to the work goal they may have (e.g., paying attention, planning, organizing etc.), as well as self-management skills. For example, one TSW self-management strategy is the use of a “memory spot”, a place selected to regularly keep important personal items like keys or a wallet, to address problems associated with memory problems that interfere with work functioning.

a jigsaw puzzle in the shape of a human head


The Importance of the Environment

PR is about the person in the environment. I can be very good at my job and not doing terrifically as a parent. Beyond my parenting skills, I might need environmental modifications and supports. I may need a babysitter to cover time between the end of the school day and when I get home from work. No matter how skilled I am, that support is critical to my success.   Most of us are dependent on some support to succeed in the many roles we juggle in our lives. For example, common supports like public transportation, an alarm set to wake up, having a doctor, friends or recreational facilities can help the average person to succeed, including a person in mental health recovery. The Center’s focus on the importance of such support and strategies to modify the environment-rather than only focusing on changing the person, was a breakthrough in the realm of psychiatric services.  New Center interventions such as Bridging Community Gaps, using Photovoice, help people make better use of what the community has to offer.  Interventions such as PR case management help people to develop and link with needed supports.

a group of individuals holding up a connecting gears

The belief that every human being has the right to live a personally defined, meaningful life is a cornerstone of Psychiatric Rehabilitation. Its processes are based on a belief in our common humanity, regardless of the challenges we must face. PR recognizes the importance of supporting people with psychiatric disabilities in identifying and thriving in their preferred valued role.  Consistent with the broader field of rehabilitation science, PR accomplishes its aims with a combination of skill development and environmental accommodation and may encompass a wide range of modalities, depending on the specific roles selected by the person. To learn more about the PR process and approach, check out our Primer on the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Process or, for a deeper dive, consider our textbook: Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Second Edition.

We hope you enjoyed our first post! Please let us know what you think in the comments section, below, and subscribe in the sidebar on the right!

, March 11, 2022article updatesdeinstitutionalization psychiatric-rehabilitation serious-mental-illness
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