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

Recovery language is about how we use language in a way that promotes recovery and is based on ordinary language that is descriptive and makes sense to everyone.


This exercise is divided into two parts. The first part focusses on deficit and negative language. The second part moves into exploring how using language differently can promote hope and see the strengths and potential in people.


Part One: Deficit and negative language


The following words have been used to describe someone. Read over the list of words, and think of the immediate impression you get of the person being described. Don’t spend too long thinking about the words. 


  • Decompensate
  • Chronic
  • Patient
  • Impaired
  • Unmotivated
  • Cutter (self-harm)
  • Low functioning
  • Challenging
  • Damaged
  • Schizophrenic
  • Borderline
  • Grandiose
  • Weird
  • Self-obsessed
  • Revolving door
  • Manipulative


You may find that you have heard these words used in connection with other people, or they may be words you or others have used to describe yourself. 


Words and how we use language are critically important in the mental health field where discrimination, disempowerment and loss of self-esteem can cause people to battle with self-stigma.


Part two: Recovery Language


Consider these questions.


  • What does recovery language mean to you?
  • Why is it important to use recovery language?


Make some quick notes – identify key elements of recovery language with a focus on hope, strengths and empowerment. We have prepared this list: 


Recovery language:

• Assists a person’s recovery
• Promotes hope
• Treats people as individuals
• Treats people as equals/ addresses power imbalance
• Provides a positive sense of self/identity
• It can be empowering
• Promotes positive feelings about oneself and future
• Reduces labelling and stigma and categorising
• Understandable
• Allows individuals to use their own words to share their own experiences
• It can reduce feelings of worthlessness and assist building self confidence
• Promotes choice and self-advocacy
• Promotes a person’s strengths and skill


Thinking about how peer supporters could use language differently, think about how the original statements might impact on hope, mutuality and empowerment. Develop alternative statements that convey a similar meaning, but use recovery focused language. 


Here are some examples: 


Alternative Language

Exercise Files
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