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

No two self-help groups are exactly alike — the make-up and attitudes are influenced by the group itself and its environment. The two main frameworks for self-help support groups are to:


  • accommodate illness — the focus is on acceptance of an illness and finding ways to manage/live with the illness
  • change thinking and behaviour — the focus is on positive thinking and increasing personal agency/control. Another form is where the group looks outward at taking control and activism in the mental health system.


There are a wide range of self-help groups in all areas and some of the better-known self-help groups in Scotland are those supported by:


  • Bipolar Scotland
  • Action on Depression
  • Hearing Voices Networks


Researchers have identified a number of factors that make self-help groups effective. You will already be familiar with some of these from your introduction to peer support:


  • Members of groups can share and obtain specialised knowledge and information.
  • Groups can offer social support and a community of people who have a mutual trust and understanding.
  • Group members can be positive and credible role models.
  • Groups can create a sense of security and normality in a sometimes unwelcoming and poorly informed world. They are a stigma-free zone.
  • There is a mutual benefit in helping and supporting group members that can provide a sense of purpose and validation.


Collective advocacy groups are similar to self-help groups, in that they bring people with experience of mental health problems together and provide many of the benefits noted above. In these groups, people come together to work for change within and out with mental health services. This form of group activism can be both empowering and influential.

Exercise Files
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