Second Story, Peer Respite

Kermit Cole

Second Story is a Peer Respite located in Santa Cruz, CA. This short-stay sleeps six house was established in 2010 through a federal grant to evaluate peer support services. Mad in America sat down with members of the Second Story community to discuss the origins of the house, starting with Loren Mosher’s Soteria project and the integration of peer support. Staffed entirely by individuals with lived experience of mental health issues, trauma, or extreme states, the house “provides an opportunity to experience what change feels like, and to learn new responses through relationships with each other” for Santa Cruz County mental health clients.  This is first in a series that will chronicle the development of alternative approaches such as peer respites and Open Dialogue in America.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]

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  1. I had the opportunity to visit and tour Second Story a couple of weeks ago in Santa Cruz, not long after the MIA interview.

    The atmosphere is pleasant and relaxed. The staff are friendly. All in all this is a very homey and supportive place. I liked it that people staying there are free to come and go and eat as they wish. This is so unlike the standard hospital “treatment” model.

    Kudos to all involved in obtaining the grant and designing and running the house.

    Beautiful work. We need more of this.

    Alice Keys MD