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

Working as a peer supporter can be challenging. There are a lot of negative beliefs that still permeate our culture about what it means to live with a mental health diagnosis. Peer supporters may be working alongside non-peer staff who either don’t share their values or buy into recovery-focused practice. Co-workers may be unsure about the peer supporter’s role in the service and have concerns about education and training levels and ability to handle stress.


This can combine to create powerful messages that reinforce an individual’s doubts about their capacity to work collaboratively with others. In such situations self-care becomes even more important. However peer supporters should also remember:


  • They were hired specifically to bring a different kind of knowledge into the service setting — one based on ‘having been there’. This perspective provides peer supporters and those working alongside them with a new understanding of recovery. Lived experience forms the basis of the job, and is the education from which insight and expertise is drawn.
  • There is a difference between being inexperienced and being disabled or unwell. Peer supporters may have spent much of their time focusing on what you needed to do just to get by day-by-day, while many of their co-workers have been developing employment skills. This means that they may still have a lot to learn about how to develop meaningful work relationships as well as a meaningful work ethic, and this involves experiencing different types of stresses common to all workers and not unique to peer supporters.
  • Asking for help and support is a strength rather than a sign of weakness.  We all have things to learn and should look for those who can help this – family, friends, coworkers, managers…


However this can make any new work experience more challenging than it usually is. Some tips to help peer workers navigate new work experiences while keeping themselves well are:


  • All organisations have their own culture or ways of doing things that are simply understood. Pay attention to how people operate in your organisation to get an idea of what some of these unspoken expectations are.
  • Avoid using symptoms or issues with diagnosis to excuse poor work behaviour or poor choices. Instead acknowledge the mistake and take steps to address it.
  • Model personal responsibility for wellness by framing ‘setbacks’ as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and what you need.
  • Remember that it is appropriate to assert boundaries around personal information. While peer supporters use personal experience to build  connections with others and provide alternative perspectives; they do not have to answer questions from those they support and co-workers that they do not feel comfortable answering.
  • If there are policies and practices that appear to apply to peer supporters only raise this with the relevant people – managers, HR department. They may be unaware of this. Indeed some practices meant to support peers in the workplace can actually be exclusionary or discriminatory.
Exercise Files
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