What is Peer Support?
Peer support centers on connecting in relationships based on shared lived experiences. Peer support is a unique way of conceptualizing relationships based on dialogue, mutuality, and taking a look at how we’ve learned to be the way we are in the world. Rather than “me helping you,” in peer support we learn together, and seek to understand each others’ worldviews, as we move toward hope and possibility.
With that, peer support is not about one person having all the answers. In fact, a lot of times we have to sit with the discomfort of not knowing the answers and not trying to fix anyone. Instead, we can be with one another in times of uncertainty, chaos, or big feelings, share our stories, learn from each other, and co-create new possibilities for moving forward.
Peer support uses the power of relationships to create meaningful connections, learn and grow together, challenge and expand our worldviews, be accountable in our relationships, and move towards what we want to do or be.
Peer support is inherently non-clinical and community-based. It offers an addition or alternative to traditional clinical approaches that are based on one person (defined as the expert) providing services to another person who is in need. Peer support is based on mutual relationships, not on one person treating, fixing, or delivering services to another person. And importantly, peer support is based on choice, consent, and the power of relationships that can bring us to creating new meaning out of our lives.