Course Content
This session will introduce students to the course and through the use of exercises promote general discussion encouraging the students to begin to get to know each other. The session will cover confidentiality, participation, commitment and a general overview of the course. 
What is Recovery?
The aim of this session is to explore the development of the recovery approach in mental health and to examine key concepts in recovery and a range of factors that support recovery.
Personal Recovery
The aim of this session is to explore personal experience of mental health problems and recovery and consider how the key concepts and factors supporting recovery (covered in session 2) have impacted on your own story of recovery.
What is Peer Support?
Now that we have been introduced to recovery characteristics and developed an understanding of the things that can help and hinder that process, we are going to consider the role the role of peer support in more detail. Firstly, we will examine what we mean by a peer and we will then go on to consider the relationship between peer support and recovery.
The Peer Relationship
In this session we will examine in more detail the processes and practices of establishing peer relationships. We will build on our earlier learning about the role of mutuality and empowerment in peer relationships. There will be a focus on issues of power, choice and control in peer relationships.
Review and Evaluation
The aim of this session is to give candidates the opportunity to reflect on learning to date; provide support and feedback on the assessment task and to review the content to date. The first assessment task is a written assignment in essay format where students consider their personal recovery story in relation to the recovery approach and the role of peer support.
Use of Language and Communications
As peer supporters, the language we use and how we communicate are key to building good connections with the people we are supporting. This session will focus on how we use the language of recovery and our wider communication skills in the peer relationship. The language of recovery is designed to bring out the strengths and abilities of those in recovery. The aim of this session is to introduce candidates to elements of effective communication, including verbal and non-verbal communication, active listening and the use of recovery language, and to enable them to use these to foster an effective peer support relationship.
Using Your Experiences Effectively
One of the most effective ways to explain recovery to others is by people sharing their experiences. It brings to life the reality of recovery. This session builds on previous learning to enable peer supporters to develop their skills and experience in sharing their experiences in ways that are helpful. This sharing is often described as intentional.
Surviving and Thriving
The aim of this session is to look at approaches to working with people which focus on their strengths and capabilities and on building resilience. This will include examining the ways in which strengths based approach might validate and reframe experience and how it uses role modelling and hope to help individuals build resilience. Strengths based approaches are at the heart of peer support practice.
Positive Risk Taking and Boundaries
The aim of this session is to examine the implications of formalised peer support, encouraging students to examine the related concepts of boundaries, role tension and working with risk. The session will introduce the concept of positive risk taking and the approaches that can be used to help in this process. This will include examining the balance between risk and responsibility in the peer relationship. As part of this, students will deal with the difficult topics of trauma, suicidality and risk.
Review and Evaluation
The aim of this session is to give candidates time to review and evaluate the course and their experience of it, and to finish off any outstanding work. it is an opportunity to reflect on learning, discuss experiences and discuss the final assignment.
Useful Resources
Peer Support Training
About Lesson

Take a few minutes and create scenarios that demonstrate mutuality and empowerment. You might choose to create one negative and one positive scenario. The scenarios can be based on your experiences or fictional.


The negative scenario would demonstrate an approach that is:


• Non-mutual: the exchange is a one way process and both sides don’t gain. There is a lack of equality in the exchange.
• Not empathic: there is a lack of genuine understanding founded on shared
experiences. One person may show pity or sympathy for the other.
• Disempowering: someone feels less powerful as a result of the exchange.  They may feel less able to find their own way forward and may feel dependent on the other person.
• Falling into the ‘expert trap’: In other words one peer may be trying to advise and guide the other based on their own experience rather than helping them find their own way forward. While advising people might feel like the easiest and quickest thing to do it has the potential to be disempowering. 


The positive scenario should demonstrate an approach that is:


• Mutual: the exchange is two way and it is clear that both parties benefit in the exchange. There is a sense of interdependence.
• Empathic: there is real and genuine understanding of the other person’s situation
based on a shared experience which does not involve pity or sympathy.
• Empowering: there is a greater sense of self direction and control as a result of the exchange.


Write as much detail as you want to for each scenario. Now consider the following questions: 


  • Consider the role of dependence, independence and interdependence for each scenario
  • Look at the behaviours, skills, attitudes and emotions used by the people involved to support or reduce empathy, mutuality and empowerment.
  • How did these different scenarios make you feel?
  • What emotional reactions did they create?

Some peer skills you might use in these scenarios:




Validation is the recognition and acceptance of another person’s thoughts or behaviours even when you may not agree with them. It is a way of communicating that a relationship matters to you. A validating response might be: “I understand what you are saying… I can see why you might feel like that… It must be very hard to have those kind of feelings.”




Try checking in on your understanding with people. This shows that you value what the other person is saying and want to properly understand them. You might say something like: “What I think I hear you saying is… Have I understood you correctly?…”




Seeking clarification where things are unclear can also show you value what is being said and that you are keen to learn more: “When you said… Can I just check my understanding… Can you tell me more about that…”


You may choose to repeat the scenarios as you seek to build mutuality and empowerment, and you can ask someone you trust to role play them out with you if you wish to demonstrate them in real life. 

Exercise Files
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No Attachment Found