Track: Thriving and Vibrant Nonprofit Sector
Commitment: Engaging All Voices

Level of Learning: Learner

Careers and job responsibilities of the social serving sector often come with an added weight of emotional, behavioral, and physical demands that, if left unchecked, lead to unhealthy amounts of stress and eventual burnout. In worst-case scenarios, these roles are susceptible to secondary trauma. 
What if organizations could build a system of support around a rich resource already qualified to understand the challenges faced daily by staff–their co-workers?

Peer support is an approach to workplace wellness that uses the non-clinical strengths and abilities of motivated, trained volunteers to enhance the resilience of their co-workers and organizations. With peer support, your organization can strengthen internal resources and sustain the well-being of employees with guidance from behavioral health expertise and consultation.

This session will discuss how organizations can create a peer support program that will formalize the internal need for support in high-stress, social serving work environments. From addressing compassion fatigue to coping with vicarious trauma, attendees will learn how peer support practices can enable their organization to provide an empathetic outlet for staff, nullifying concerns of “outsiders” who don’t necessarily understand the crises faced within their unique field.

Learning Objectives 

  • Principles of a successful peer support program
  • Characteristics of a strong peer support representative
  • How to select the best level of peer support for their organization
  • How to recruit and engage employees for the program
  • How to incorporate a peer support program within an employee assistance program (EAP)


  • Michael McCafferty, senior account manager, FEI Behavioral Health (@feinet)
Michael McCafferty
Senior Account Manager
FEI Behavioral Health

Michael McCafferty, MSW, PHR, is a skilled coach and consultant who partners with leaders, teams and individuals, motivating them to move from disengaged to engaged, and from problem to solution. Since receiving his Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee in 1997, Michael has provided consultation, training, counseling and EAP services to organizations of all sizes in industries as varied as manufacturing, financial services, state and municipal government, and higher education. With a diverse background including experience in healthcare, human resources and construction, he has a long track record and personal commitment to helping organizations create the conditions for success.