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 have learned about valuing our own lived experience and reflecting on what recovery means for us and how it shapes the way we view our experiences.


Role modelling and hope


A key role for peer supporters is to role model recovery and hope within the peer support relationship. We show that it is possible to reclaim your life and live a life of hope and potential through our attitudes, interactions, behaviours and use of language.


The term ‘role model’ was first coined by the American sociologist Robert K Merton to describe observations he made about medical students. These ideas were later developed by psychologists, most notably Albert Bandura, who developed his ‘Social Learning Theory’.


Bandura argued that people learn through observation of other people’s behaviour and attitudes, and that this is a key part of what is known as ‘socialisation’ — the process by which we become aware of society and relationships within it. Behaviour is reinforced through a process of rewards and punishments. This is to ensure what is deemed as acceptable behaviour is reinforced while negative behaviours are reduced.


There are many people that we might consider to be role models as we progress though life — from parents and friends to colleagues and educators. The extent to which people are aware that they are acting as role models is perhaps less clear, but the idea of developing skills and abilities to support people in a process of modelling has been widely developed in a range of settings.


Examples of this include mentoring programmes in schools where older students support younger students, or in work settings where more  experienced employees support new staff.


The use of role modelling to support recovery has also gained credence, with recommendations to service providers to ‘make role models more visible.’ (Slade M, 2009). Inspiring peers like Pat Deegan ( consider the role of sharing experiences and stories as one means of sharing hope and promoting recovery.

“People in recovery also speak of the importance of having a person in recovery as a mentor or role model as they go through their journey. Role models help people know what recovery looks like and give them ideas about what to hope for.” (Davidson, L. et al, 2009)


How and when to use your own experiences


In the peer support relationship, using and drawing on our personal recovery experiences is a powerful tool in communicating hope and creating connections with others. Sharing our recovery experiences provides us with the opportunity to practice what we have learned about how role modelling can communicate possibility and potential.


As peer supporters we will have many opportunities to talk and share with people. How we share our experiences will be dependent on who we are speaking with and the purpose of the discussion. At all times our discussion and the sharing of experiences should be in keeping with key aspects of the peer support relationship; that it is:


  • Mutual
  • Authentic
  • Intentional


As a peer supporter, consider the initial connection you make when you met someone for the first time. For example you have just introduced yourself to Sylvia. She’s heard about peer support but doesn’t know much about it. She asks you if you’ve also been a client in the mental health system.

Exercise Files
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