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

Language is one of the ways to foster and enhance recovery-supporting environments. Language is constantly adapting and changing, with new words and descriptions coming to prominence over time. The way we talk and the words we use can have a powerful impact on how we interact with, and are perceived by, the world. There is also a skill in using language in
a way that fosters rather than inhibits recovery. 

 

“Language shapes how we see and construct the world, it is important to consider how language can encourage recovery i.e. to use shorthands which foster rather than inhibit the recovery journey” (Slade M, 2010)

 

Recovery language is closely associated with our ability to share hope and identify strengths. The language we can use is also important in the development of empathic and mutual relationships. However, it is not fixed and the words we use change over time and between cultures. For example, you may have come across papers about peer support and recovery from other countries that use language that you feel less familiar or comfortable with.

 

In some settings, it is common to describe people who use mental health services as ‘consumers’. In the UK we talk about people as having mental health problems, in the United States it is common to talk about people with psychiatric disabilities.

 

Hodge and Townsend (authors of The Impact of Language and Environment on Recovery, 2008) are careful not to provide a list of things to say or not to say because it would quickly become dated and unhelpful, given the dynamic nature of language. The paper describes scenarios where language is unwittingly or otherwise used to retain control – for example, by using technical language when it’s not appropriate or by failing to clarify terms.

Exercise Files
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