Stories of Support

Peer Mentoring Story
Juan-Israel Torres is one of our Peer Support Specialists. He has been an effective, motivated, and empathetic member of the Compeer team. Throughout his volunteer and work history, Juan-Israel has often found that clients view therapists as people who may want to help, but are out of touch with their realities. Since he has both studied and lived with mental health struggles, Juan-Israel’s goal is to use what he learned through achieving his LMSW to identify clients’ struggles and strengths. Furthermore, he is able to use his lived experiences of overcoming severe childhood trauma to connect with clients on an emotional level. Juan-Israel’s heart’s desire is to encourage others along their journeys.

One of the people who has benefited from Juan-Israel’s peer support is Manuel. From the beginning, Juan-Israel found Manuel to be motivated and polite, with a great sense of humor. Manuel is an incredible example of someone who has made the most of his sessions. He even asked for homework!

Manuel and Juan-Israel worked together to develop an overall plan for increasing Manuel’s community connections and positive social interactions. From the beginning, through various skill-building conversations, Manuel identified that anger was a major barrier to achieving this goal. It was a learned coping behavior from childhood trauma and other adverse life experiences. He also identified people, places, and things that could assist greatly in his recovery and success. He noted going to the beach or the swimming pool helped him deal with anger much more effectively. Manuel’s insight and self-awareness has been crucial in his progress.

Manuel also demonstrates motivation and assertiveness. When a recent stressor caused him to start drinking, he asked Juan-Israel to go to an AA meeting with him. During the meeting, Manuel actively listened and shared his struggles. When they returned from the meeting, Manuel said he was encouraged in his heart. He then asked Juan-Israel for a notebook so he could begin journaling about his struggles and successes. Juan-Israel notes how impressive Manuel’s insights and willingness to put his self-awareness to action are. Since then, he has taken the lead in developing a list of places in the community where he can go to help him achieve his goals.

From the start, Juan-Israel told Manuel he would make him work, while having fun at the same time. Manuel said he was ready for that. His actions could not have proven truer. Manuel is a success story in the making. He clearly shows what is possible with a positive attitude and the support of our Skill Building Program and Compeer team members like Juan-Israel.