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

Read through this scenario, and the possible responses given, then answer the questions at the end. 




Neil and Marie have been working together for several months. Neil has seen Marie make great progress. Now Marie is talking about getting her own flat and living independently (she has lived in supported accommodation all of her adult life). Neil thinks this is too big a step as Marie doesn’t know how to cook, is careless with cigarettes and is terrible with her finances. Also, several years ago Neil moved straight from supported accommodations to living  independently and it was a disaster. He lost his housing, found himself on the street, and even started using drugs again. Marie tells Neil that she is really excited about getting her own flat and has even got as far as deciding how she wants to decorate it.


Response 1


Neil tells Marie that he is happy for her but expresses concern about what seems to be a big step for her. He tells her that in the past he had moved from supported accommodation straight to his own flat and that it had not worked out for him and that he is worried that this will happen to her.


Response 2


Neil tells Marie he is really happy for her and remembers the feeling of really wanting your own place. He asks her what she thinks the difference between living in group supported accommodation and her own flat will be.




  • What are the different perspectives on risk in this scenario?
  • How was Neil controlling the situation in both responses?
  • How do you think Marie will respond to Neil’s different responses?
  • How do you think things will develop from each response?


Looking at this scenario, consider the extent to which our instinct
to protect or to ‘fix’ things is a result of our fears. While this is a fairly straightforward scenario there can be times when fear becomes
overwhelming. This is the time to think back through the basic skills of peer support. Acting out of fear can lead to poor decision-making and disempowerment.


In thinking about how peer supporters can overcome this desire to protect, consider the following:


Be aware and attentive


Being self-aware is simply noticing what you are currently feeling, focusing your attention, and knowing the assumptions and attitudes that you bring to a conversation. Being attentive to others means being open and interested in what they’re communicating, both verbally and non-verbally. When we’re self-aware and paying attention to someone else, we can begin to share in their experience without our assumptions getting in the way. 


Sit with your emotions


It can be scary to be with someone who is working through strong feelings. We tend to want to fix things, calm people down or fill in all the blank spaces when they are silent. Sometimes just sitting with people without doing anything is the greatest gift we can give. Learning to tolerate a range of feelings (both our own and others’) strengthens our emotional muscles. It shows us that we can live through feelings which can be frightening, and learn what they are trying to teach us.


Ask questions in a kind and compassionate way


Llistening carefully and asking questions in a compassionate way will help you to learn how the other person has made sense of their particular experience. This can help bring out important similarities and differences in the relationship.


Be honest and respectful


Being honest is sometimes the hardest thing. We are afraid of hurting  people’s feelings or getting into trouble. But while remaining silent can avoid hurt feelings in the short term, it probably won’t work in the long term, and it can lead to misunderstandings. So, even when we have something difficult to say, it’s better to say it because others usually sense when something isn’t right and we are holding back.


Be patient


Your habitual responses can become ingrained and hard to change, and can also help you feel safe because you feel comfortable with them. You need to take time to build relationships and a connection within the peer support relationship. If you are impatient and challenge someone, you can then disconnect from each other and it will take time to rebuild that trust and connection. Your role is to encourage people to come to their own conclusions at their own pace.

Exercise Files
No Attachment Found
No Attachment Found