Peers at a trainingIn addition to the recovery education trainings that the REACH Program coordinates across the state, we are also able to respond to individual requests for trainings. If you and your colleagues are interested in one of these events, please reach out to us to see about the possibility! Our training catalog can be viewed below or by following this link: VOCAL Training Catalog.

Contact Program Director Megan Sharkey for more information: or (804) 343-1777


I. Recovery Education

History of the Peer Movement – Did you know we have roots in the civil rights movement? Learn how the peer movement got to the place we are today.

Whole Health Wellness – A discussion of the many ways we can stay well, including mind, body, spirit, community and more.

Art Making: Who’s Your Muse? – Anyone can make art guided by intuition. Our gut sense leads us to meaningful subject matter, as well as the marks we make on the page. This workshop offers a process for allowing a figure to arise in the shape of our “muse”, someone who gives us inspiration, comfort, encouragement, protection. Then from collage materials, we will give a face and contextual environment to our muse (angel, superhero, etc.)

Music as Medicine – Music appreciation, science of sound, and research on the healing power of music are combined in an experiential workshop about four essential elements: pitch, rhythm, volume and timbre.

Finding Your Voice – How to express your own truth while respecting other viewpoints, whether in public speaking or personal relationships. The human voice reaches its potential as an instrument of communication and compassion.

Building a Recovery Movement, One Stage at a Time  – “Forum Theatre” is applied to mental health advocacy in order to help overcome stigma and other obstacles. Participants may simply watch or actually step into scenes that depict the perils and proud moments of recovery.

Mental Health from Different Cultural Perspectives – How is ‘mental health’ defined differently in different cultures? What are the different understanding of causes of mental illness? What are some different perspectives on healing?

Firewalkers – Based on VOCAL’s book, FIREWALKERS, this workshop offers an opportunity to appreciate the gifts, strengths and uniqueness recovery gives us.

Introduction to WRAP® – For peers new to Wellness Recovery Action Planning. This workshop will explain the purpose, values, and process of creating your own written wellness plan.

WRAP® Refresher – For peers who have a WRAP®. We will review WRAP® values, discuss the latest news from the Copeland Center, and share ideas and experience to update our wellness plans.

Psychiatric Advance Directives – Virginians can legally add a psychiatric component to their medical advance direct. How does this work? What kinds of directives can be included?

Can I Work While on Disability Benefits?  – Do you want to recover your work life? A presentation on disability benefits and working in Virginia.

Managing Diabetes and other Chronic Physical Conditions
Many peers battle physical health conditions as well, including Diabetes. Hear a first-person experience of managing diabetes or physical conditions. Wellness is possible, even within illness.


Do I Need to Be a Nonprofit?: Starting a Program to Reach Peers – Considering forming a 501©3 non-profit organization to offer peer-run support programs? What are the benefits? What are costs, both in terms of money and legal requirements? Includes a step-by-step introduction to how to form a 501©3 and an overview of alternative models in Virginia.

Solution-Focused Communication: Recovery Tools For Organizational Wellness – Solution-focused communication and trust form the foundation of healthy organizations. Learn proactive skills for addressing differences in point-of-view and resolving tension in groups. Workshop uses familiar skills from recovery tools like WRAP®.

Board Roles and Responsibilities – Legal and ethical responsibilities of a non-profit board of directors; Distinction between board governance and individual board members as volunteers; Roles of officers and committees; and Relationship with the Executive Director and staff. Can be an introduction for new board members or a refresher for existing boards working through specific questions.

Staying on Mission: Linking Mission to Goals, Activities, Impact and Outcomes – Create a visual map that ties it all together – clearly state the relationship between your mission statement, program goals, day-to-day activities, results of your work in individuals and the community and how you measure those results. Can be used as the basis for marketing, reporting, planning and more.

Evaluating Recovery: Reporting on Peer-Run Program Activity and Impact – We’ve experienced the value of peer support in our own lives. How do we “prove” that value to funders who often seek numbers and statistics? Includes description of common metrics requested by DBHDS and SAMHSA and how to collect those. Also includes a facilitated brainstorm discussion about alternative ways we could evaluate recovery activities and outcomes.

Marketing Your Program (to Funders, Peers, Professionals and More) – Your program has so much to offer – but you’ve got to get peers in the doors first, not to mention raise enough money to keep the doors open. An overview of the Marketing Mix – four factors to consider when marketing your program to an audience. (HINT: Marketing is much more than advertising.) Can be presented as an overview/introduction or an in-depth work session on individual elements of the Mix.

Cultural Competence   – How can we best understand one-another? We live in a patchwork tapestry of many cultures. Cultural competence is having an awareness of one’s own cultural identity, and the ability to understand differences that make each person unique.


How to Create a Consumer Advisory Council – A number of Virginia CSBs and mental health planning regions benefit from the experience and wisdom of those who have used services. Peers grow through working together and articulating concerns. Information and coaching on how to create a successful CAC.

Effective Advocacy Skills  – Advocacy is important to peers as individuals, community members, and services consumers. Bonnie Neighbour is a self-advocate, former Advocacy Coordinator for VOCAL, former VOCAL Executive Director, and former President of the DBHDS Board of Directors.

The Virginia System of Mental Health Care – An overview. What services are provided; how they are funded, prioritized and administered; how change comes about.

Current Issues and Transitions in Virginia’s Mental Health Care – This workshop will provide up to date information and discussion of Virginia’s progress in developing a recovery oriented, trauma informed system of mental health care.


Any of VOCAL’s workshops can be developed specifically for professional development for Certified Peer Recovery Specialists. Contact Don Johnson to customize a training at or 804-343-1777.

The Peer Specialist in Virginia
All about the development of the peer specialist profession in Virginia. What has been our experience in various settings? How can we continue to practice with integrity?

Boundaries and Ethics in Peer Support
Our started as a grassroots support movement. It’s now a growing profession with a Code of Ethics. How do we stay true to our roots while building in self-care and considering the preferences of our employers?