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Share ‧ Support ‧ Heal ‧ Empower ‧ Grow

You have a voice, let's learn how to use it.

Our approach is based on the work of researcher & author Brené Brown whose focus is shame & vulnerability. She writes and speaks about the power of vulnerability and developed the Shame Resilience Theory (Brown, 2006).

Vulnerability is the doorway to connection, creativity, love, and joy. We work with various techniques and tools from Brené Brown’s work to develop connection with ourselves and others, using the seven elements of trust (BRAVING). 

Here are our definitions of the 7 elements which build on the work of Brene and the principles of peer support:

BOUNDARIES Setting boundaries is about making clear what’s okay and what’s not okay, and why. What feels safe for one person is different to another so we need to explore this together and keep recapping. Sometimes we don’t know where the boundary is until it is broken. We have to learn to listen to our emotions and physical feelings; learn that is ok and part of peer support. But once you have recognised a boundary you need to constantly practice keeping to it. We also need to respect others’ boundaries even if we don’t understand them unless there is a genuine concern for someone’s safety. This includes respecting that everyone at BRAVE• is on a trauma recovery journey (although they may not have identified this yet) and here to give and provide emotional peer support not be unpaid mental health and/or crisis service worker. 

RELIABILITY You do what you say you’ll do. Peer support engages in recovery-focused relationships by: inspiring hope and supporting each other to take back control and define their own destiny. We do this by supporting each other to take small steps and pace ourselves. This means staying aware of your competencies and limitations so you don’t overpromise and are unable to deliver on commitments and balance competing priorities.

ACCOUNTABILITY You own your mistakes, apologise, and make amends. Mistakes are when the results of our actions are unintentional and so include the emotional reactions and behaviours of others. We acknowledge that we can not control another's reactions but we try to predict and can influence others. We can also try to amend our behaviours and actions if that helps us remain true to ourselves. This includes adjusting boundaries, paying attention to red flags and ensuring that we don’t over-promise in the future. It is about embracing our own imperfections and that the impact of our actions does not always match our intent. We also need to be supported to not rush and get back up again after we have stumbled, this can not happen without admitting we have fallen. 

VAULT You don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share. As Dr Brené Brown says “I need to know that my confidences are kept and that you’re not sharing with me any information about other people that should be confidential”. When we are wanting to talk through distressing feelings or information, remember “be a shock absorber, not an amplifier”. That means keeping the distress contained to those who can ground with all concerned, assess what are the facts and concerns and direct to appropriate help. It is not speaking to multiple people so that the information gets reported over and over again, making it seem bigger than it is. That is being an amplifier of the distress when what is needed is a shock absorber.  

INTEGRITY Choosing courage over comfort; choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast, or easy; and practising your values, not just professing them. We take note of the red flags and do not continue to rely on those who have shown red flags to us. We are honest with how we are feeling and own our responses to triggers and circumstances, honouring what is good for us is different from what is good for others. This may mean keeping a distance from a relative, friend or even peer group member not because they are a bad person but because they are not the best person to support us. It also includes taking accountability for mistakes even if no one has noticed them. 

NON-JUDGMENT We prize others’ lived-experience and do not challenge or undermine those whose experiences and opinions are different to ours. Being a ‘peer’ is not just about having experienced challenges, it is also about understanding the meaning of such experiences within the communities of which the person is a part. This can be critical among those who feel marginalised and misunderstood by traditional services. People can ask for what they need, even if these needs are in conflict with others’ needs. We value the lived experiences of all peers and prize the sharing of language, values and nuances of those from similar or the same communities. Those who obviously have a better understanding of the resources and the possibilities, equipping them to be more effective in helping each other become valued members of their community. Sometimes we will be able to make reasonable adjustments or create a new discord thread or group to create a sub-community for those members of BRAVE• to share those experiences in more detail. But even if we can’t fully meet a person’s needs due to lack of lived experience. We will do our best to help them find somewhere or someone that does, this may be alongside BRAVE• or instead of BRAVE• depending on the person and situation. And we can talk about how we feel without judgment. Peer support involves a relationship where the person providing support fosters acceptance of vulnerability. In order to see within that vulnerability the seeds of possibility and create a fertile ground for those seeds to grow. It explores what a person has gained from their experiences, seeks out their qualities and assets, identifies hidden achievements and celebrates what the smallest steps of growth. 

GENEROSITY We extend the most generous interpretation to the intentions, words, and actions of others and ourselves. When our impact does not match our intent, we apologise, try to make amends and move on. We also give time and space to allow others to be accountable and make amends with their actions. We embrace reciprocity in our peer relationships by not seeing anyone as in deficient. No member of  BRAVE•  can claim to know it all. Instead, we learn to use emotional co-regulation, grounding, storytelling and exploration of different worldviews to help individuals grow their awareness about themselves and relationships. After all, we can not learn without being vulnerable, and can not be vulnerable unless supported to feel safe enough to make mistakes.

At BRAVE• we use these seven elements to build trust with ourselves and each other. They are our guiding principles for trauma recovery and the way we hold ourselves and each other to account. This allows us to bravely & safely connect with ourselves as well as others. Most of our workshops explicitly use the B.R.A.V.I.N.G. acronym and our peer support facilitators will, again and again, pull us back to these essential elements as without trust and safety we can not learn

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