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

Imagine this scenario: 


You have been in a peer support relationship with Sue for a couple of months and things seem to be progressing well. She has told you how much she enjoys working with you and you’re feeling pretty confident. Today she tells you that she is afraid of talking to her doctor about decreasing her medication. Sue knows that you successfully reduced your medication in the past and asks you to talk to her doctor on her behalf. 


There are a variety of ways to respond to Sue as a peer. Think about the different responses you could give, and how Sue might react to them. Your responses might include:


  • Persuading Sue that she can do it herself… “If I managed it so can you.”
  • Offering to speak to the doctor for Sue as requested.
  • Refusing point blank to get involved in the discussion… “I’m not supposed to talk about people’s treatments – I’m here to work on recovery with you”’


Consider the roles being assumed in this scenario, thinking back to the Drama Triangle and the parent-adult-child dynamics. Think about the role and impact of power in this situation. 


When working through a response which maintains mutuality and empowerment there is likely to be a process of negotiation and discussion between Sue and the peer supporter. To support this you, as peer supporter, will have to do some or all of the following:


  • Question their feelings about themselves and Sue. What are they assuming about Sue after she had seemed so competent before?
  • Be present and aware of what Sue is feeling, and also curious about where this is coming from.
  • Be aware that Sue sees the peer supporter as having more power and more capability.
  • Make a connection by validating Sue’s experience: “I can see that must be a difficult situation for you…”
  • Ask questions that respectfully open up her ‘story’: Why is she looking for someone to ‘fix it’? What happened in the past that is frightening her? How can we agree a way forward that ensures Sue is in control?
Exercise Files
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