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

Self-help and self-management are related terms. The basic premise is that they help people play an active role in managing their own mental health and recovery. As we have seen there are a variety of different resources, tools and approaches but it is possible to identify a number of common features.


Control and empowerment


Self-help and self-management tools and approaches are generally designed to help people develop more awareness of their mental health and recovery. They also put control back in the hands of people experiencing difficulties, which helps to empower them.


Structured approach


Self-help and self-management approaches often involve a structured approach, which can be shared in a training or education setting or through self- study. Self-management approaches commonly involve a process of planning and reflection, and encourage people to think through scenarios. This could relate to staying well or to planning for crises and things going wrong.


Shared experiences


We have become increasingly aware that self-management approaches are most powerful when people with similar experiences come together to share them. Where this happens through a training type approach, trainers or facilitators sometimes have their own lived experience to share. This obviously creates a good degree of empathy, mutuality and shared learning, and has a lot in common with peer support. This is why sharing and promoting selfhelp and self-management techniques are common features of many Peer Supporter roles.


Approaches developed out with the mental health service system


Self-help and self-management approaches are often developed and shared out with the formal mental health service system. In some cases they are developed in response to a perceived shortcoming in traditional services, although there are exceptions to this:


  • Psychosocial Education — an approach largely intended to increase understanding of mental health problems with the aim of developing ‘insight.’ This is a common approach and often takes the form of professionally led group learning. Models based on encouraging insight have been criticised for their potential to hinder recovery by encouraging people to accept and adhere to psychiatric labels.
  • The use of Advanced Statements — these are legal documents linked to the Mental Health Care and Treatment (Scotland) Act 2003 that are designed to provide people with a say in their care and treatment even at times of crisis and greatest difficulty.
Exercise Files
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