Storyteller. Advocate. Nonprofit Guru. Karen brings more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector to support organizations in sharing their story, developing and deploying fund development plans, and launching new programs and services. Her guiding passion is ensuring that programs and services place the voices of people being served at the center of program development, implementation, and evaluation.
I work as an academic, consultant, lecturer, Open Dialogue practitioner, peer worker, supervisor and trainer in mental health.
My work is grounded in Intentional Peer Support, Open Dialogue, Mad Studies, social justice movements (including the consumer/survivor/peer/lived experience movement) and tertiary studies in sociology, political science, law and linguistics. I draw self-reflexively on my own experiences as a survivor of childhood trauma (including the ongoing legacy of these early experiences), in dialogue with the work of international networks of people who are humanising our collective responses to people in distress. My work has also been significantly influenced by the Hearing Voices movement. I understand distress and “mental health” as deeply embedded in the social world.
Sharon Kuehn, principal at Life Force Learning, is a peer recovery movement veteran who uses her training and facilitation skills to create unique, participatory learning environments. Her lived experience as a person with mental health challenges is the backdrop to her extensive experience as a recovery trainer and peer support instructor and supervisor. With 20 years of peer leadership, community engagement, and recovery program design and implementation, Sharon’s ability to navigate systems and hone peer recovery skills will support your organization’s wellness and recovery goals.
I write to reflect on aspects of my life experiences that fall outside the norm so that I may heal and come to a truer reality and understanding of self. I do this to be a strong professional presence for the people I work with, to positively impact the local mental health system, and to promote my work.
My first book is a memoir called: Fighting For Freedom In America; my second will be about a theoretical orientation towards work with “psychosis” across diagnostic divides.
Peer Support Specialists are individuals who have lived/personal experience coping with a serious mental illness or co-occurring substance use disorder. They act as role models and promote hope by using positive self-disclosure and demonstrating that recovery is possible by exhibiting competency in their own personal recovery. Because of their lived experience, such persons have expertise that professional training cannot replicate. They support individuals with struggles pertaining to mental health, psychological trauma or substance use; they also help individuals improve their quality of life by reaching greater levels of independence, community inclusion, and productivity. They Participate in the development and implementation of person centered plans. They work with consumers of mental health services both individually and by facilitating groups.
Becoming a Peer Support Specialist is the second time in my life that challenges/ lived experience ended up leading to employment. When I was 11 years old, I became a ward of the state. I spent time in a number of foster homes. My most stable placement ended up being a home through Boysville’s (later renamed Holy cross children’s services) specialized foster care program. When I was 21 years old I was hired as a night staff at the Boysville/Clinton Campus. I went on to get a position as a Treatment Specialist and Eventually got hired by the State of Michigan- Adrian Training School where I worked for nearly 10 years. While there, I worked as a Youth Specialist, a Shift Supervisor, and trained of employees crisis intervention and physical intervention techniques.
The Reentry Associates LLC are committed to providing innovative, unconventional strategies supporting communities to increase hope and purpose, rebuild values, promote connection and relationships while bringing awareness to generational trauma, poverty, incarceration, homelessness, substance abuse and mental illness.
Milkweed Connections, LLC was founded in 2017 as a partnership of member-owners providing Comprehensive Community Services to individuals throughout western Wisconsin. Milkweed also provides training, consulting, and direct pay services. With the diverse experiences and talents each member brings to the work, Milkweed is able to provide wellness tools like yoga, peer support, meditation, life coaching, and many other integrative practices to individuals seeking health, wholeness, and recovery.
Milkweed Connections is guided by values consistent with the consumer/survivor/ex-patient movement (also known as the peer recovery movement). These include a belief in the possibility of healing and recovery, a focus on choice and self-determination, and an understanding of the social and environmental factors that play a role in an individual’s experience.
Intentional Peer Support is a way of thinking about and inviting transformative relationships. Practitioners learn to use relationships to see things from new angles, develop greater awareness of personal and relational patterns, and support and challenge each other in trying new things.
Intentional Peer Support was developed in the 1990s. Since then, thousands of people in various countries around the world have been trained in the material. Our operations are managed by the following team, who also provide and coordinate trainings.
...someone to talk with who is deeply present and open to you, dedicated to hearing and reflecting compassionately.
...a safe, balanced and respectful relationship that you help to define and direct.
...a bond that offers some of the best qualities of a friend, life coach, spiritual director or counselor, but without the history and baggage, beliefs and expectations, or labels and psychiatric language.