Letter from Workshop Attendee

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February 19, 2010
Dear Talya:
As a Clinician and a Supervisor of Certified Peer Specialists I am always seeking new, innovative, and unique trainings to meet all of our needs for our own education and development as well as to better support our participants. This training exceeded any expectations that anyone of us had prior to attending the training. Several of my staff wanted to do other things and felt it was going to just be another one of those trainings where they hear the story but gain no further knowledge or insight in how to better support their participants. This was absolutely not the case, and in fact was the complete opposite.
Talya, you presented in such a way that captured all of our attention for the entire presentation. It explained how someone suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) truly feels in this world and how what we say and do is interpreted to that person. You taught us real life ways to better support someone with BPD manage their symptoms and how to validate them when they are struggling.
Your story was inspirational, not only as a means of sharing a recovery journey, but as a way of demonstrating how the right interventions and compassions can truly make recovery possible. My staff and I gained more insight and knowledge from your training on “Building a Wall of Compassion: Setting limits……Borderline Personality Disorder” then we have from any other story and recovery training in a long time.
You presented in a way that made us no longer see the “negative stereotypes” of working with someone on their journey to recovery but made us find their strengths, validate their emotions as real, and then gave us the tools to help them take that next step.
For myself, I want to thank you for giving me insight and knowledge that puts what I have learned in practice as a clinician into a reality I could never have imagined before hearing you. This is the type of training that every therapist, doctor, Certified Peer Specialist, and family or friend who has had a loved one struggle with BPD must attend. I have a relative who has recently been diagnosed with BPD and being able to really talk to her and validate her and to better understand what she is suffering through as she newly begins her journey of recovery has made for a better relationship as well as given me more tools to support. I needed not be a therapist and this has given me the ability to do this with my own family and to help my family to better understand what my loved one is struggling through each day and not making her be the one to try and make them “get it”.
I could probably write pages of thanks you’s from myself and my staff for giving us this opportunity to hear your story and grow in what we do every day. We are going to take this training with us for a long time and truly believe it will have a beneficial effect with many of the participants we support each day.
Good luck in all your future endeavors and please never stop sharing your story and your knowledge with the world. I am a firm believer that it takes the combination of both the clinical knowledge and the “real life experiences” and you can forge these together to make the best support system for more successful recovery journeys. Thanks again.
Elizabeth A. Higgins, MSW, LCSW
Program Manager Trail Guides and Friends Connection
Divisions of the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania