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The Struggles of Lived Experience Experts: Overcoming the Past and Embracing a New Path

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Lived experience experts have invaluable insights that can significantly benefit organizations and individuals in need of guidance, especially when it comes to addiction, gang affiliation, crime, pimping, or prostitution. These experts have walked the difficult path and come out the other side, making them uniquely qualified to offer support and understanding. However, the journey of transitioning from a troubled past to a new, positive lifestyle is not without challenges. In this article, we will explore the struggles that lived experience experts face and the importance of organizational support during this transformation.

The Pull of the Streets

One of the primary challenges faced by lived experience experts is the pull of their former lifestyle. The streets and the people they once associated with can serve as constant reminders of the past, making it difficult to move forward. This pull can be particularly strong during times of stress, when the familiarity of old habits and connections may seem more comforting than facing the challenges of building a new life.

In many cases, individuals transitioning from a life of crime, addiction, or other difficult circumstances must sever ties with friends and acquaintances who continue to engage in harmful behaviors. This can be an emotionally challenging process, as it may require cutting off relationships that were once a source of support and comfort.

The Importance of Organizational Support

Organizations that hire lived experience experts have a unique opportunity to provide the support and understanding that can make a significant difference in these individuals' lives. By offering resources, guidance, and a safe space to share their stories, organizations can help lived experience experts successfully navigate the challenges that come with leaving behind a troubled past.

Some key ways organizations can support lived experience experts include:

Providing access to counseling and mental health services: Addressing the emotional and psychological challenges associated with a major life change is crucial. Offering access to professional counseling and mental health services can help lived experience experts work through their struggles and build resilience.

Offering mentorship and peer support: Connecting lived experience experts with others who have successfully made the transition from a troubled past can provide valuable guidance and encouragement. Peer support can help to reinforce the message that change is possible and that they are not alone in their journey.

Encouraging continued growth and development: Providing opportunities for lived experience experts to further their education and professional development can help them build a sense of purpose and self-worth. These opportunities can also equip them with additional skills and knowledge that can benefit both the individual and the organization.

Fostering a supportive workplace culture: Creating a work environment where lived experience experts feel valued, respected, and understood can contribute to their overall wellbeing and success. Encourage open communication, celebrate accomplishments, and address any stigmatizing attitudes or behaviors that may be present in the workplace.

Supporting lived experience experts during their transition from a troubled past to a new, positive path is crucial for both their personal growth and the success of the organization. By understanding the challenges, they face and providing the necessary resources, organizations can help these individuals overcome the pull of their former lifestyle and flourish in their new roles. In doing so, lived experience experts can continue to make a lasting impact on the lives of others while building a better future for themselves.

For more information on working with or developing lived experience experts please contact


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