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

When we work in mental health settings, one of the ways we communicate is through paperwork. This might involve writing support notes, amending care plans or writing memos or minutes of meetings.


The purpose of a written report is to reflect an accurate account of the interaction and/or an up-to-date picture of an individual’s situation. Where possible, this should be done with the person involved. The report is also used to provide an historic record that can be referred to at some point in the future to remind the person.


It is very important to write about people in a respectful way. The information that is written in files or notes must be factual and free from opinion or prejudice. Remember that information in personal files should reflect a period in a person’s life. Often, the behaviour and reactions of the individual will not necessarily be wholly to do with who they are, but could be a response to the situation they have found themselves in, the environment they are in or how others interact with them.


For example, a person might show aggressive outbursts, and these will have been recorded as part of their mental health issues at the time. However, the aggressive outbursts might be a reaction to the environment they are in and how they have been treated or (or have perceived themselves to have been treated) at that time.


Always consider how the content of your writing might be interpreted. As stated previously, a peer supporter’s written account should be factual and free from bias and opinion. It’s preferable to co-write notes with the person concerned. For example, you might ask the individual you’re working with how they would describe a situation or an interaction, or you could write your notes jointly as a summary of the time you’ve spent together.


Written records containing elements of bias or opinion can be dangerous, as they can provide a mind-set for the individuals reading them. This can foster unreasonably negative thoughts, beliefs and opinions about the person being described.


For example, by writing, ‘Stacey is refusing to go to the appointment that we arranged at the Housing Office again’ the words ‘refusing’ and ‘again’ are loaded with innuendo that is consciously or unconsciously saying to other team members that Stacey is not engaging with the service and that this is a bit of a pattern. The danger here is that others work harder at ‘making’ Stacey engage and/or abuse their power to ‘force her into line’. If Stacey doesn’t want to go to the Housing Office, simply record that ‘Stacey decided not to attend her appointment at the Housing Office’.


Poorly written accounts can have a negative impact on our ability to assess situations independently and holistically, which can give rise to poorer support or inappropriate interventions for individuals.

Exercise Files
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