Peer Employment Training

Peer Employment training


In November 2009 I did a course called Peer Employment training. The course was run by Recovery Innovation which is based in Arizona, America. The trainer was a guy called Chris Martin.


It was a two week course from nine in the morning to five at night. It was held at the University of Sussex.


Before attending the course we were told to complete a wellness and recovery action plan. It was also suggested we read the first couple of modules of the course.


On the first day I stepped into the classroom and found what seemed like a playground! The tables were covered in paper and there was an assortment of toys: rubber frogs, stress balls, rubber hippos and various other things. These items helped de-stress us as we learnt how to be peer support workers.


The course was intense. It involved various modes of learning: individual, group, and in twos involving various exercises and role plays. We worked our way through the course book by day and did homework at night.


The central theme through the whole course was the recovery idea. We were taught to remember recovery by the acronym cheese:








We learnt about recovery language, about being open-minded, not being a label, overcoming trauma, addiction, emotional intelligence, CBT and thinking errors, history of people using mental health services, the benefits of spiritual beliefs and the power of mutuality as well as much more.


This was strength based learning at its most powerful. Our tests were not marked as wrong only as something in need of being polished.


The specific counselling style of the peer approach involves various steps:


1)      Listen to what person is saying and show you are 100% present

2)      Reflect back what they have said

3)      Praise them on at least two things positive and courageous about what they have told you.

4)      Ask them for permission for you to ask some open ended questions – always acknowledging the person as the expert in their own life

5)      Allow them to find their own answer

6)      Ask them for permission to share your own story/ideas/suggestions.


The most powerful day for me was halfway though the course when we all had to do a ten minute talks about our life. It was based on the idea of a hero overcoming challenges and these challenges actually making one a better person. I was quite nervous about doing the talk although found it quite a healing process. It did however bring up some stuff from the past which I was able to deal with.


 During the course some people became unwell and we did think more support should have been available. However, Chris (who incidentally had also used services) and his two assistants (who had done the same course the previous year) did their best to support us.



After the two weeks and a 100% pass rate was had a graduation ceremony where we invited family and friends.


It was a great experience and one which will hopefully enable me to work in this area.


This course was funded by the Sussex Partnership trust. This was only the third time it had been delivered in the UK. Let’s hope with funding more courses like this can be delivered.


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