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

The potential for dual roles and relationships need to be considered in formalised peer support. This term refers to scenarios where multiple roles exist between a practitioner and someone receiving support. The potential for this is increased because peer supporters have past or current experience of using mental health services.

 

For example, when a peer supporter starts in a post, they may know their new colleagues as past supporters or might have existing relationships with some people who access the service that they now work in. 

 

Having a clear job description and ensuring that peer supporters are seen as integral and valued members of the team should help challenge any confusion. These types of dual roles can also create what has been described as ‘role confusion’ where people can act inappropriately or become confused by the peer supporter’s new role and identity.

 

Examples of this are when a colleague has a tendency to slip into a support role with a peer support worker, or when a person using peer services sees the relationship more as a friendship and finds it hard to understand why there are new boundaries or controls.

 

This role confusion can also lead to what has been described as role tension for the peer support worker, as they feel the pressure to ‘fit’ into both their identity as a paid or volunteer worker and as someone who uses services.

 

Role tension can also be created where a peer support worker becomes unwell and requires additional support. This is further exacerbated if that  support is provided in the same location or service as the one in which they usually work.

Exercise Files
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