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

A crucial part of recovery is moving towards an identity/or sense of self that is rich and includes mental health problems, wellness and all other aspects of identity. It’s also important to be able to make choices, take responsibility and therefore take ownership and be in control of the process. This can be supported through self-help and self-management approaches.


‘Agency (taking control) is a key element in personal narratives of illness in recovery, because it is integral to the most dramatic of narratives, the turning point-when participants truly become heroes of their own lives and cease to be victims of circumstance or controlled by others, including health professionals… it is at the heart of recovery. Although support and intervention from others was crucial too, it was important that support stimulated personal initiative, rather than creating dependency.’ (Lapsey et al 2002).


Taking control is about self-determination, and one way of realising this is through selfmanagement and self-care. Pat Deegan (1993) describes what this means for her:


‘Recovery means I stay in the driver’s seat of my life. I don’t let my illness run me. Over the years I have worked hard to become an expert in my own self-care.’


There are many different ways that people can manage their own mental health and get in the ‘driver’s seat.’ For example, they can use a light box in darker, winter months, use peer support, eat or avoid certain foods or exercise. This is often called self-help or self-management. The terms can be interchangeable, but refer to a wide range of opportunities such as self-help groups, self-management tools and other approaches developed by individuals to manage their wellbeing and take control of their recovery.

Exercise Files
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