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 significant challenge in the peer supporter role is managing reactions to emotionally difficult situations which relate to past experience.


Past experiences and self-care


In this exercise students working in small groups consider two scenarios and discuss what they feel is happening and how self-reflection and self-care could help in managing such situations. 


Scenario 1


Anne is a peer support worker at a service where she has been employed for just a few months. She has overcome many obstacles in her life, including life with a father who had a drink problem. Life was pretty unpredictable for Anne. She made a decision when she left home that she would never associate with anyone who drank.


Anne is meeting Holly for the first time as Holly’s new peer support worker. Holly has only been coming to the service for about a week, so is just getting used to things. Anne greets Holly and immediately smells alcohol on Holly’s breath. Anne’s face gets red, her heart starts pumping, and she suddenly feels angry. Holly, seeing Anne’s reaction to her, assumes that she has done something horrible to offend her, but she doesn’t know what. Later, when Anne meets with her supervisor she states, ‘I can’t help her. She’d been drinking.’


Consider this scenario and answer the following questions:


  • What do you think Anne is reacting to?
  • How would knowing more about herself and her own reactions to certain people or situations have helped Anne to respond differently when she smelled alcohol on Holly’s breath?


Scenario 2


Katy is a peer support worker and she is very worried about Daniel. Daniel has not been showing up for his meetings with Katy or his support team. He’s also been alluding to dropping out of services altogether. Katy is very worried that if she does the wrong thing with Daniel he will disappear. This causes Katy some concern. In fact, for Katy, there have already been a lot of losses in her life. She’s not sure she can handle one more. 


Consider the following:


  • If Katy were able to self-reflect, what would she be paying attention to in terms of her own fears and concerns for Daniel?
  • How might Katy ‘check out’ her interpretation of what is going on for Daniel in a way that allows Katy to also speak to her own fears, worries and concerns?




With scenario 1 we explore the fact that we all have vulnerabilities and issues that prompt a particular type of emotional response. Anne’s are related to alcohol. It is one of those seemingly instinctual reactions to things that have historically made us uncomfortable and come up all the time in peer relationships.


Some people prefer to describe them as triggers.


For example, we might misunderstand the tone of what someone is saying, we might have strong beliefs that contradict the other person’s or we might get frustrated when something that was easy for us is difficult for the other person.


Being aware of this is an important element in the practice of relationship development. It is also an important element of self-care in peer working, so it’s important to work on increasing self-awareness of these potential triggers.


Since you can’t always avoid the people and situations that elicit strong reactions in you, what can you do to become more in control of your responses? While your supervisor is not your therapist, you can talk to them as a way of thinking through some responses to difficult situations.


This kind of conversation is the same for any employee who is aware of their own vulnerabilities.


In scenario 2, we see that self-reflection could help Katy to separate her own fears and concerns from those she has about Daniel. It could help her to understand that her worldview could be colouring what she thinks is going on with Daniel. Self-reflection is a powerful tool that can help us to understand how our own vulnerabilities (in this case Katy’s multiple losses) can play into our relationships with others.


When peer support workers take on responsibility for another person’s wellbeing, or see themselves as responsible for the outcome of another person’s decisions, they are contributing to the existing culture of disability in which people seeking services are viewed as incapable of taking responsibility or contributing to the relationship. Seeing and responding to others as ‘less than’, or ‘fragile’ within a relationship replaces compassion and respect with power and control and can lead to work stress and burnout.

Exercise Files
No Attachment Found
No Attachment Found