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KEIJO- Expert by Experience Training

The Expert by Experience training is organized twice yearly at Silta-Valmennus as part of the Silta-Sote workshop’s rehabilitative work activity. The training model is aimed at individuals with a history of substance abuse and criminal backgrounds. These participants have progressed in their own recovery journey and aim to move towards education and open job markets. The training leverages the experiential expertise of group members in overcoming substance abuse and maintaining a crime-free life. In addition to the curriculum content, the training includes a guided exploration of personal recovery processes and intensive vocational coaching.

This training model was developed in collaboration with Laurea University of Applied Sciences and Valo-Valmennus as part of the ESR-funded project “Experience Expertise Promoting Independence and Participation.”

At Laurea, the Keijo training continues as a permanent expert by experience training, held once a year at Laurea University of Applied Sciences. The training will consist of three months of theoretical studies and three months of practical work experience. Participants will complete a study module worth at least five credits. Student selection for the training occurs through interviews. In addition to instructors and teachers, interviews involve experts by experience who have completed the training. During the interviews, applicants’ life situations, criminal and/or substance abuse history, attitudes towards authorities, personal goals, support networks, and resources are discussed.

The selection for training emphasizes various factors, including an individual’s well-being, advanced recovery, community safety, attitude toward society, and existing support networks. Those chosen for training also have the resources to reflect on their experiences and analyze and integrate experiential and research knowledge.

The goals and content of the training are based on either the vocational qualification module “Expert by Experience and Peer Instructor” or the study module “Expert by Experience in the Criminal Sanctions Field,” depending on the implementation. Additionally, participants can complete open university studies related to developing criminal sanctions services or projects involving group facilitation for different target groups.

The training incorporates functional and creative methods. These play a significant role when structuring one’s own narrative, which can be worked on using various techniques and tasks. Through creative methods, participants can strengthen their ways of expressing themselves and learn interpersonal skills. Examples of methods used in the training include improvisation, creative writing, storytelling, sociometry, visual expression, encounter art, music, and symbolic work tailored to the interests of each training group. Close collaboration with the surrounding society and employers is essential during the training. Seminars and various events provide trainees with valuable experience for their future roles as experience experts and the opportunity to meet a wide range of professionals in the field, including societal influencers.