WHAT IS PEER TO PEER SUPPORT?
Broadly defined, “peer support” refers to a process through which people who share common experiences or face similar challenges may come together as equals to give and receive help based on the knowledge that comes through shared experiences. The shared experiences of peers fosters the initial trust and credibility necessary for developing relationships in which individuals are willing to be open and discuss their concerns and subjects of importance.
Peer-to-Peer Support Programs select and train the most qualified persons to be Support Team Members. Peer Support Team Members must be credible, experienced, trusted and held in high esteem. Peer Support Team members can offer educational and social support, and may provide avenues for additional help. Peer-to-Peer relationships are effective because they are built on mutual understanding, respect and trust. These commonalities contribute to the credibility necessary for developing relationships in which individuals are willing to open up and discuss their difficulties despite concerns about stigma.
GOALS OF PEER SUPPORT
Provide an empathetic listening ear
Provide low level psychological intervention
Identify colleagues who may need sensitive intervention
Facilitate pathways to professional help through a licensed therapist/clinician
Some first responder agencies may have either formal or informal trained, volunteer Peer Support Teams within the various departments. Although this option may be available in first responder agencies, it may be easier to talk with someone from outside of your agency; someone who is very familiar with your job, but not someone who you work with. There are licensed and trained Peer Support persons available outside of your agency that may be available for your support.
Peer Support Training and Accreditation helps to develop Team Members to acquire some basic skills in the following:
- Advanced Listening
- Psychological First Aid
- Informed on Referral Options