Graduate Peer Mentoring and Ambassadorship

We asked Caroline, our Peer Mentor trainer, to describe working with our graduates:

‘I have the privilege of training graduates of the Tom Harrison House programme in mentoring and ambassadorship.

I am forever inspired by the commitment and gratitude of the veterans I train; commitment to their own recovery and gratitude for the support they have had to transform their own lives.

As mentors, our graduates support potential clients coming into the project while they wait for admission, as well as throughout their treatment episode and beyond. They are a visible representation of the honour, hope and healing that underpins THH’s vision and it is due to their enthusiasm and generosity of spirit that veterans are able to be supported online, by telephone or in person while they begin their recovery journey at THH.’

As ambassadors, our graduates also represent THH at events and presentations to other providers, external organisations and communities. Armed with the relevant information, and, most importantly, with their own real stories of recovery, they are able to promote the service to those who need it most.’

Craig, a THH graduate, ambassador and peer mentor, describes a memorable day from his time on the programme:

A day in the life of therapy at THH (the day that I started to heal)

‘I will always remember that day for the rest of my life. I arrived at THH about 8.30am, and I was particularly nervous that day as I had my Assignment 2 to deliver to the group. The assignment was all around reclaiming my honour and what I was going to do in the future to help my recovery. I remember at the morning check-in saying that I felt nervous about how it was going to turn out. I prided myself in doing well in assignments because I wanted to get well. We also had group therapy on that day and there was another assignment to read out before mine. Mine was to take place in the afternoon and I wished it was the morning so I could get it done and feel less anxious.

I remember we broke for lunch, and then it was time for my assignment. The lads were all wishing me luck and telling me I would be fine. We were a close group, and all looked out for each other. I remember sitting in the group room with my peers and the two therapists, Rob and Eve. As I started to read, I felt nervous and was trying to deliver it slowly and not rushed.

Once I had read the assignment out, I remember Eve opening the room up for feedback and my peers said that they could tell I worked hard on it and it was a really good piece of work. Then it was the therapists’ feedback. I will never forget Eve telling me that it was a really good piece of work, but that she noticed that my leg was shaking when I was talking about my little lad. I remember her asking if we could take this a step further?

Before I came to THH, I could not talk about my lad as I was in a lot of pain. In the past I had attempted to take my own life, with the grief and loss I felt. I remember watching my peers who were further on into the programme do a process around their trauma, and I was scared – my ego was in play as I never wanted to cry in front of the group. However, this time I felt it was a safe place to do this. I was 6 weeks in, and I was ready.

It’s hard for me to put into words what happened that day. Some call it “the magic happening”, but what I can tell you is that I don’t think I have ever cried that much in my whole life. I got to do what I now know as psychodynamic therapy, and I got to imagine my lad, reconnect with the loss and finally just grieve. I allowed myself to be vulnerable in a room full of men, to go to the trauma and just feel connection there with no masks. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room, and I have never felt connection like it.

Something happened to me that day, and I felt like a weight had been lifted. I was finally able to just show up and grieve. That day changed my life and also shaped my future. Today, I have completed a diploma in counselling and I’m ready to start my next diploma in September to qualify as a therapist myself! I want to be there for people who were in a similar position to myself and help them start to heal. I can’t really put into words what THH has done for me, but today my life is different, and it’s gone in a completely different direction to where I was and where I was going before asking for help.

In a week’s time, I will be two years clean and sober. I am so thankful to Tom Harrison House, the therapists and the peers on my course. I will never forget the day my life changed for the better.

My name is Craig and I’m a recovering addict.’