Peer Support at the BCCPD

The BC Coalition of People with Disabilities (BCCPD) is having a peer support group for people living with a disability.

What is “peer support”?

An opportunity for people to exchange ideas and experiences in a confidential, respectful environment with trained facilitators.

The group will explore many topics, such as:

– Daily living and coping in a changed world
– Relationships with friends, family and others
– Navigating medical systems
– Personal wellness and finding joy
– Exploring and sharing ideas about ‘what’s next’

Group size limited to 15 people. Group members can participate as much as they feel comfortable. Bus tickets and snacks provided.

Dates:           May 15, May 22, May 29, June 5, June 12 & June 19
           1pm to 3pm
    BCCPD office, 204-456 West Broadway, Vancouver
To Register:
Contact Nicole at 604-875-0188 or

Beneficial Effects of Pets and Animal-Human Interaction

We wrote in January about a project we are working on to make it easier for people to access housing if they have an animal. We are proposing that when someone is unable to access housing because they have an animal and cannot reach agreement with a landlord they should have the option, as a last resort, to have a health professional indicate they need their animal for their health and emotional well-being.

Earlier this week, MLA Linda Reid spoke about this work in the Legislature:

March 5, 2012
L. Reid:

Today I’m dedicating my remarks to Jane Dyson, the executive director of the B.C. Coalition of People with Disabilities. Comfort, solace, companionship, bonding — all are characteristics of a settled life. Dr. Coren of UBC talks about one of the newest trends in medical research, which focuses on the relationship between people and their pets and the effect this has on their physical and mental well-being.

The scientific data is unequivocal in showing that dogs can be a significant factor in dealing with stress responses for all people and can have a major beneficial effect on special groups, such as persons with physical and mental disabilities, seniors and others who may be socially isolated.

The medical recognition of the significance of the human-animal bond and its influence on human psychological health has become a subject of serious research. Human findings include lower blood pressure, relaxed heart rate, regular breathing and less muscle tension — all signs of reduced stress. Individuals with disabilities are particularly susceptible to stress, and hence, all of the secondary problems associated. Up to 25 percent of people who seek the services of a general practitioner do so for depressive and anxiety disorders.

Depression is considered to be much more disabling, socially and physically, than many chronic conditions. Although depression can be caused by many factors, one of the most common is loneliness. People who lack human contact often benefit from pet ownership and the emotional bond that pets provide.

Recently researchers looked at a group of people 60 and older living alone or only with a pet. Non–pet owners were four times more likely to be diagnosed as clinically depressed than pet owners of the same age. The evidence also showed that pet owners required fewer medical services and were more satisfied with their lives.

In the year 2010 Dr. Aubrey Fine edited a stunning collection of chapters on animal-assisted therapy, theoretical foundations and guidelines for practice, in which the authors explore the animal-human bond — from the use of animals with individuals with autism spectrum disorder to human-animal interactions in successful aging.

Animals have become an important part of the lives of many people of all ages, and there are now numerous studies to support the beneficial effects, both physiological and psychosocial.

New Year’s Challenge: Group Coaching Program for People Living with HIV

Tired of giving up on your New Year’s resolutions?

Is fear, low energy or lack of motivation preventing you fromSnail achieving goals? If you’re interested in making 2012 different than every other year, consider joining BCCPD’s pilot coaching program.

No, this isn’t another “get rich/successful quick” scheme. It will take commitment and willingness to keep an open mind. We’ll use strategies from positive psychology and narrative/personal storytelling to:

    • challenge assumptions that can limit your options and actions
    • maximize gain by identifying small but powerful actions
    • recognize and access personal strengths and resources
    • realize the potential of re-authoring your personal stories

Weekly sessions will include discussion/exploration of:

    • techniques and research from positive psychology, including happiness, resilience, gratitude, strengths, goal setting and mindfulness
    • life as narrative or story: sharing your short (2 pages maximum) stories on various life themes (Guided Autobiography or GAB). GAB provides new perspectives through the experience of authoring and re-authoring our stories. Stories will be written during the week between sessions.
    • ways to adapt and use these tools while living with chronic illness

Dates & Locations:

Groups are forming now and will run through February and March 2012. They are free for people living with HIV. Each group will meet two hours weekly for six weeks.

Face-to-face groups: held at the BCCPD office in Vancouver and at other locations/organizations by special arrangement. Service providers please contact us to discuss hosting a group.

Teleconference groups: teleconference programs will be offered for participants outside of the Lower Mainland. Contact us for dates & details.


Shelley Hourston is a trained coach with an Appreciative Inquiry/positive psychology focus and a Guided Autobiography Instructor. She is Program Director at the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities’ Wellness & Disability Initiative/AIDS & Disability Action Program. For more information or to register, contact her at or phone 604-875-0188 (toll-free 1-877-232-7400). Contact us soon as spaces are limited.