Whomever it may concern
datum: July 2nd 2015
Peter van der Kort
Letter of recommendation regarding Robert Honecker
Robert asked me if I would be willing to write a letter of recommendation about his development in his recovery and becoming a peer support worker. And of course I am willing. But I told him that I would be brutally honest in this letter.
First off I want to apologize for my use of the English language. Although I am a fluent speaker, my grasp of grammar is still Dutch and there may be some stylistic mistakes in this letter.
I've known Bob for more than two years now and I have seen him grow. When we first met, he had just graduated from a course in how to use your experiences as a client in a psycho-social setting. This course is called TOED, Traject Opleidingen ErvaringsDeskundigheid (Roughly translated: Course of classes to develop expertise regarding lived experiences in intra-, trans- and extramural psycho-social settings).
I am working as a coach-advisor (counselor and strategic planner) to the Client Advisory Board to the board of directors of Arkin, a conglomerate of psychiatric institutions and addiction clinics in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. This Client Advisory Board is a volunteer consumer run board that aim to represent the collective interests of all mental health consumers of care provided by Arkin.
So, when I first met Bob he was an enthusiastic man who could not yet make the distinction between the personal interests of a single mental health consumer and the collective interests of all mental health consumers. I could already sense that he was leaning more in the direction of peer support work, but I wanted to make sure.
During the time that Bob worked for the Client Advisory Board he came to the conclusion that this representation of the collective interests of all consumers was not for him and Bob decided to stop working for the Board.
Bob is still the same enthusiastic man who tended to overstretch his expectations. In the beginning he set his expectations of a possibility to gain employment in the peer support work here in The Netherlands so high that he often got disappointed with the results. That would undermine his inner equilibrium a lot and ruin his self-esteem. That made it necessary for me to intervene as a coach/counselor and talk with Bob about the way he set his goals and his expectations. Bob himself came to the conclusion that he did indeed set his own goals too high and that he forgot to take the little steps in between to reach certain goals. So Bob now sets his goals less high and tries to enjoy the road he undertakes to reach those goals. I also think he has learned to temper his expectations and that way lessens the feeling of disappointment when he does not succeed.
Here in the Netherlands mental healthcare is much more centrally organized, it falls under the responsibility of the central government. That is why there has been less need for peer support here in The Netherlands than for example in the US. Peer support work is less developed here in Holland because of that. Now that the government is retreating more and more from (mental) healthcare, the need for peer support networks is increasing but there is still too little expertise in peer support. That is why I think it is such a good opportunity for Bob to get back to the US and put his skills to work in peer support in the US.
Having survived Early Childhood Trauma and coming to terms with adoption, Bob used to be a person with low self-esteem and going through stages where his traumas were undermining his inner equilibrium. It made him a volatile person, easy to anger and easy to hurt. His feelings went every which way.
Through his own search into his past and coming to terms with things that happened to him Bob has made remarkable steps in his recovery, battling mental illness.
To uphold his self-esteem it was often necessary for him to set his goals high. The unfortunate thing was that it set him up for disappointment as well. And this way he ended up in a downward spiral of his self-esteem getting lower and his expectations drawing his self-esteem lower again.
The last 5 or 6 months Bob has been able to turn this around. Although his enthusiasm will sometimes set him up for disappointments, it does not affect him the way it used to. He knows how to curb his enthusiasm now and consequently does not have too high expectations of something or even someone for that matter.
All in all Bob is well on his way to being a well-rounded and well-grounded man, with the right amount of enthusiasm and willingness to try new things. Bob is highly motivated to become a peer support worker, and has the know-how for this line of work.
I for one wouldn't mind having him as a colleague counselor when he has done the training and schooling for it.
Peter van der Kort
Client Advisory Board Arkin.