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

Please read the following scenario and then discuss the questions.




Ian and Kyle have built a really good relationship and have a lot in common. Kyle has been talking to Ian about feeling tired all the time and thinks it’s his medication. Ian is sympathetic because he takes the same medication. Today Kyle comes in and is very animated and asks if he can talk to Ian in private


Kyle: ‘I’m finally feeling a little more energetic and it’s a wonderful feeling. I’ve been slowly cutting back on my medication and it’s working really well, but I don’t want you to tell anyone because I’m afraid if the doctor or case manager finds out, they’ll make me go to the hospital.’




  • What is your immediate reaction to this scenario?
  • What are the ethical issues raised by the scenario?
  • How can you respond in a way that is honest and respectful and still maintain a mutually empowering peer relationship?
  • Think about the drama triangle we learned about in Session 5. What might happen to the relationship if you take a persecuting position (‘you have to take your medications’) or a rescuing position (‘OK, sure, I’ll be there whenever you need me’) or a victim position (‘I can’t believe you are asking me to do this. I could lose my job/position’


The ethical issues here are complex. On the one hand it’s never a good idea to keep secrets, but on the other hand, you don’t want to abuse your power by overreacting. What is clear it that at this point we do not have all the information needed. 


Think about the type of questions they could ask Kyle. This could


  • Why does Kyle believe he will be hospitalised if his doctor or case manager knows?
  • Is there a way he could talk to his doctor and get his help to decrease  his medication?
  • What kind of support will he need to do this?


There is a need to remind Kyle of the mutuality of the peer relationship and the respect for each other that underpins this. Being asked to keep a secret isn’t very respectful. Ian should be honest about his feelings about his and tell Kyle that he is uncomfortable with what he is being asked to do. This can include discussing that he does not want to feel responsible if something goes wrong. One approach would be to suggest that they both share this with someone else to get more information.


However, it is important to have empathy for Kyle’s situation and try to see things from his perspective. This will include acknowledging his view that he feels as if he has much more energy and is enjoying it. If this is done then it is less likely that the peer supporter will fall into the negative traps of taking power positions (persecuting, rescuing and victim) as all of these positions are more to do with our own fears and outcomes than they are about Kyle’s position.


In this scenario there is no one right way to respond. However to negotiate something that will work for both of you, you need to have made a connection and be maintaining a peer relationship that is empathetic, mutual and empowering.

Exercise Files
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