Course Content
Introduction
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. 
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Useful Resources
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Peer Support Training
About Lesson

The sharing of personal experiences; also commonly known as sharing recovery stories or narratives has been closely linked to the development of the recovery approach. Telling their stories allows people to visualise their experiences over time and to reflect on the long-term journey of recovery with its ups and downs. It places the person sharing their experiences at the centre – in effect they become the hero of the story. This provides an authenticity and immediacy not necessarily possible through academic or clinical perspectives.

 

The approach also allows people to reassess or re-author their experiences. Creating and taking control of your own story can be an empowering experience and is an essential part of the recovery process. By thinking about and defining who they are for themselves, people will be able to look for things that have worked and gone well. This is especially important and powerful for many people with mental health problems as they spend time being assessed and assisted by mental health professionals and social services. Naturally, the conversations are often focused on the negative effects of mental ill health. For some people this might include
problems and difficulties like drug or alcohol problems, unemployment, suicidal thoughts, traumatic experiences etc.

 

As a result of repeating these conversations over time, the problems and difficulties begin to define who the person is. For example, the person’s ‘story’ might become ‘I am someone with a drug problem’ or ‘I am someone who has had a traumatic experience’. While these facts are true, they are not the whole story – or the whole person. The fact is that many people with mental health problems have had to face severe hardships – yet they’ve survived. So it’s clear they have exceptional resilience and strength. But for as long as they stay focused on the negative effects of mental ill health, it’s unlikely they’ll see these positive qualities. And that can hinder
recovery.

 

There is growing evidence that tells us that sharing recovery stories have much to offer in terms of recovery, wellbeing, resilience, identity and meaning. Finding and sharing recovery stories is an important aspect of recovery. 

 

When people first start writing their story, it can be an emotional and challenging experience. They may start to question all or parts of their existing story and some may feel anger or frustration that they or others may have lost sight of their strengths, skills and qualities. But most people find this passes quickly and report feeling better for having got their ‘story’ out – whether they choose to share it, or keep it to themselves.

Exercise Files
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