Slide Deck: Family Peer Support: How Families Can Help the Team Become Oriented Toward Recovery

In this presentation, Mid-America MHTTC specialists and partners with Omaha-based Community Alliance will demonstrate ways in which family peer support empowers families to support their loved one’s path towards recovery. In particular, participants will learn how recipients of family peer support:

  • Learn to support their loved one’s autonomy;
  • Learn to establish a focus on recovery with other members of the mental health team;
  • Learn to prepare the mental health team to engage in recovery-oriented dialogue.




Jai SookramDr. Lilchandra Jai Sookram has been in the mental health field for over 40 years. At the Nebraska State Hospital, he provided psychological services to persons with serious mental illness and to their family members, and he directed clinical services including psychology, nursing, social work, therapeutic recreation, education and return-to-work programs. He is the former director of mental health services in Kansas and clinical director of a juvenile correctional facility. Currently he is manager of family and peer services at Community Alliance.

Bill BaerentzenBill Baerentzen, Ph.D., CRC, LMHP, is serious mental illness program director for the Mid-America MHTTC. Much of his outreach involves promoting evidence-based practices to help people with serious mental illness (SMI) live meaningful inclusive lives. Dr. Baerentzen has worked as director of a 250-bed emergency overnight shelter; supervisor of therapists in a treatment program for persons with co-occurring disorders; and as faculty in a rehabilitation counseling program.

Jon ThomsenJon Thomsen is a certified peer support and wellness specialist and is the supervisor for two peer support programs with Community Alliance. Jon is a certified facilitator in WRAP and RentWise, has previously facilitated support groups such as NAMI Connections, and has recently established Safe Harbor’s first support group Spiritual Recovery. Jon is involved in Crisis Intervention Training for the Omaha Police Department as well as the training of peer support specialists in the state of Nebraska. His primary goals are to support individuals who struggle with their personal well-being, to share the knowledge he has gained in his own recovery, and to walk with people while they explore their authentic self.

Mark ThomsenMark Thomsen, MD, is an assistant professor of psychiatry at both the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and Creighton University, splitting time between the outpatient psychiatry clinic at UNMC/Nebraska Medicine and the inpatient psychiatric hospital Lasting Hope Recovery Center — a 64-bed facility in Omaha. Dr. Thomsen is co-director of the ASPIRE clinic, a specialty outpatient clinic providing care for patients with severe and persistent mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder and primary psychotic disorders. Dr. Thomsen has experienced the impact of family peer support from both the provider and the family perspective, and looks forward to helping promote and expand peer support services.

Learn more about Family Peer Support: An Emerging Workforce at


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