The Annual Adult Treatment Court Collaborative “ATCC” Grantee Meeting took place in Bethesda, MD on March 13-15, 2013. This meeting convened participants from 11 SAMHSA-funded ATCC programs across nine states. The meeting covered areas of substantive importance and unique training opportunities such as systems transformation, peer involvement, sustainability, screening and assessment of co-occurring disorders, and screening and assessment of trauma.
Feedback from attendees indicated that the half-day meeting devoted to peer involvement was among the most valuable parts of the meeting. The Peer Meeting covered best practices for peer representatives working in their programs’ advisory boards and providing peer support services to ATCC program enrollees. Wilma Townsend, Acting Director of SAMHSA’s Office of Consumer Affairs, who was featured as a Keynote presenter discussed “Collaboration with Peer/Consumer Organizations” and stressed the importance of the roles that peer representatives serve in their programs. The meeting also featured an open dialogue, in which peer representatives were invited to share learnings from their work with the ATCC. One topic that was highly debated was the role of confidentiality when providing peer support services to program enrollees. Depending on the employment status of the peer representative in each respective program, confidentiality expectations may differ. One example is that a peer representative who works as a member of the drug court team (under which the grant is managed) is expected to disclose information to fellow team members regarding potential violations of the program. However, a volunteer peer representative who serves as recovery coach or facilitates peer support but does not serve as a team member of the court or probation may have more freedom to maintain enrollee confidentiality as long as there is no threat of harm to the enrollee or others. After much debate about the topic, it was agreed that the standards for confidentiality should be determined by consensus of the programs and the peer representatives involved. The peer representatives serve their programs in a variety of roles and capacities, as it is deemed best by the individual programs — in other words— what works best for one program may not work for another. The nature of the programs allows freedom for flexibility.
The Peer Meeting was a powerful reminder of the importance of peer involvement in the ATCC and similar programs.