20 January, 2017

From us to us – Peer is the best expert

In these days it can be a little difficult to be a “Power Sister” (Voimasiskot in Finnish). Darkness outside can pull the mood down, if you’re not careful. All kinds of small inconveniences piss off more than would be appropriate, and outdoor exercise is more dangerous due the combined effect of darkness and slipperiness.

Managing one’s emotions is an important quality in relationships both at work and at home. On the other hand, one should not suppress the feelings in the same way as a child had to, by force. Children used to be suppressed by violence – by physical punishment or harsh words –, and as an adult you might blatantly ignore your own needs. Constant nagging ill feelings are making you sick and constant feelings being insufficient all the way drive easily into burnout.

Transition from negative emotions to positive can be learned. The burdens of past life and negative attitudes can be shed away. You can empower your mind by going through the weights of bad heritage which past generations, parents, school and society have burdened you with. Past wars and the severe reconstruction periods also pass mental injuries to generations to come unless the vicious cycle is not broken.

The YWCA in Finland has established a new form of work called “Power Sisters” (Voimasiskot) to empower women to cut loose these weights of past. “Power Sisters” working method uses peer support. It means self-reliance, mutual and confidential exchange of experience, giving support to us by ourselves. Peer support is based on the human need to obtain and provide support. We can compare our own experiences and our own life situation in respectful atmosphere. New groups are easy to set up and can be designed in accordance with the resources and wishes of the local YWCA association.

Peer Group is formed mostly by one or two volunteer tutors and the peers themselves. Sometimes a professional can act as group leader as a pair, but the lack of a professional there is no obstacle to the functioning of the group. “Power Sisters” is not therapy or counselling group but a forum for sharing stories and experiences. Should mental health issues occur, leader of the group can advise participant privately to counsel to a professional, if deemed necessary.

“Power Sisters” model is used solely for peer approach. It is supported by the “Power Sisters” book, which is intended for all women who are interested in working in small groups. Each group member is given the book “Power Sisters – Book of women’s emotional skills and resources”, where you can get inspiration and ideas to inspect your emotions and tune in to the conversation and meditation by yourself.

We hope that the “Power Sisters” model will take off across local YWCAs in Finland. Gathering groups is not regulated by exact guidance, as each group is unique. Each group can decide how many times they meet; will they go through all the ten themes or not; and what methods they’ll use. Guidance book for the group leader is also provided by the YWCA of Finland.

YWCA & “Power Sisters”