Community of practice

Community of practice refers to the supportive professional relationships and the culture that can emerge among people doing the same kind of work, both within and across organisational boundaries. By culture, we mean shared efforts at understanding and solving problems and challenges. Being part of a community of practice can help you improve as a peer navigator and also provide you with peer support, helping maintain your own wellbeing.

Regular supervision

Regular supervision is essential, regarding challenges in the work as well as what’s working well.

Appreciation

Appreciate what you are doing – the good things about the work and your practice!

Debriefing with colleagues

Talk with peer workers and other colleagues, including practitioners outside your workplace. (Remember to maintain confidentiality.) It can help to talk with people who understand the work — the role itself and/or the organisation, community and sector. You need peer support to do peer support, and you can get overwhelmed if clients in distress are your own primary form of contact with peers and engagement with community.

After intense sessions

Schedule time to debrief and unwind after long or intense sessions. In addition to supervision, debrief with someone who doesn’t need you to be effective in the role, as this can subtly alter your expectations for the conversation.

Understanding your role in the bigger picture

It can help to connect with your elders and ‘ancestors’ in the HIV community, which may include people who are still living, and people who have passed on (who may be remembered in books, history, films, conference panels etc).

Being involved in change work (e.g. social change movements, activism, advocacy etc) can help you avoid feeling powerless in the face of clients’ distress and trauma.

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