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

In peer support self-care is critical, since so often you will be relating to the distress of others out of your own lived experience. That can be challenging and exhausting. Stress can also come from your own fears, worries and concerns about your ability to address the needs of those you support.


You might want to please many different people and find it difficult to say no to multiple demands. However, peer support is a two-way relationship in which both people pay attention to the health and wellbeing of the relationship. Self-care is not just something you do for yourself, but something that you can accomplish in mutually responsible relationships.


Many of us have been taught that helping another person means that you do everything for them. Ironically, this is one of the barriers to self-care. Another barrier is that you don’t tell the person what you are feeling or what you need because you are being paid to help them, or you think that you might stress them out.


When we pay attention to what the relationship needs rather than to what we think the other person needs, we discover that we share responsibility for both the challenges and successes we encounter in the recovery relationship. Since stress in peer support relationships can come from a number of sources, you could well encounter some of the situations or feelings listed below:


  • feeling others’ pain to the extent that it becomes your own
  • feeling unsure about whether or not your own needs and wants are important in the peer relationship
  • feeling like you will let your peers down if you ‘relapse’ or appear to be struggling yourself
  • not knowing how to say no, or when to say no to other peers or co-workers
  • feeling responsible for someone else, especially around safety
  • not addressing your own support needs. 


Staying connected


Peer supporters can become isolated socially and professionally since many relationships are structured by service policy. This may result in fewer opportunities for individual support; particularly if peer supporters are working in the context of the services that they once used. 


All peer supporters should consider ways to develop sources of support which could include:


  • Form a peer support group in the community. You might want to network with other peer supporters in other organisations, and have opportunities for formal and informal meet-ups.
  • Explore online sources of peer support. Don’t forget to explore sources that are nonwork related such as sports, book clubs, and crafts or hobby groups.
  • Attend to your mind, body and spirit as you think about self-care.
  • Build in time for you, as much as is possible — for example making  sure you pursue your interests such as arts, reading, meeting friends and so on.
Exercise Files
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