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

We all know what it is like to be in different types of relationships. Some relationships are positive and some are less helpful. As a peer supporter, who is trying to support recovery, the ability to develop positive relationships is crucial. As we learned in session four positive peer relationships are based on mutuality and empowerment. The first step in this process is establishing a connection.


One of the great things about peer support is that people generally connect easily to others with whom they have a shared experience. It’s a wonderful moment when you’ve been feeling like the only one, and you finally meet someone else who has been there. This bond or affiliation is quite powerful, and people relate well to someone whom they think understands or gets it.

Sometimes, though, things don’t necessarily go as smoothly and it might be harder to connect.


As a peer supporter you need to know yourself before you can develop an awareness of who the other person is and how you might best connect with them. There are three important starting points when you are trying to make a connection:


  • be open, interested and curious
  • be authentic
  • be self-aware.

When you are developing a peer relationship, you need to treat the person and their experiences with seriousness and curiosity. You demonstrate being open and interested through what you say and how you behave.


Being authentic means being genuine and true to yourself and living your life according to your sense of who you are rather than being swayed by external pressures or expectations. The opposite occurs in relationships where you mould yourself into being what the other person wants you to be or what you perceive you should be for that particular situation. This sort of authenticity is underpinned by self-awareness.


Being self-aware means being conscious of our biases, impressions and judgements, as well as what we’re feeling. This relates to what we learned earlier about worldview. For example, as a peer supporter you might meet someone who looks a bit ragged and unkempt and you might say to yourself, ‘This poor person must be homeless. I’ll see what I can do for him.’


Already you have an agenda for the person. You have formed assumptions about his or her situation, and instead of being open and interested, you’re making assumptions.


Entering into a peer relationship in this way can make it very hard to go on and establish genuine mutuality. This is because you have placed yourself in the position of helper rather than peer. You have not set out with the intention of shared learning, mutual respect and curiosity. The most important thing about self-awareness is that it gives you a chance to look at your assumptions without acting on them. You could say to yourself, ‘I know I’ve done this before and been totally wrong.’ This simple realisation can offer a fresh start. You come in with the choice to be open and interested and to learn.


When you start to really practise self-awareness, you allow your authentic self to emerge. You are no longer hiding behind a role or a particular agenda.


Thinking about the difference between a helper type relationship and an empowering peer relationship can be helpful. The following table describes some of the characteristics of each. 

Relationship Table

Exercise Files
No Attachment Found
No Attachment Found