Peer Support - how to help one another

This week I had the opportunity to attend a training held by Building Warriors, a non-profit organization helping first responders to support one another with their life issues. The goals being that no one is left alone and that people have a place to talk with someone who understands. This left me thinking, who do most people turn to when they need help? If you are honest with yourself, who would be the most likely person you would talk to. As a crisis counselor I find that the answer for most people, young and old, is a friend. As a student that is usually another student and often as someone in the work force that may be a co-worker. So peer support is a thing and most likely a helpful, useful thing.

"Peer support occurs when people provide knowledge, experience, emotional, social or practical help to each other." (Wikipedia). Often times the support peers are chosen by their co-workers and trained to learn reflective listen, micro counseling skills, and resources for more intensive support. The reasoning being that your peers are the ones who are culturally aware and can notice changes in your mood, productivity, and behavior. When you are around someone 40 + hours per week, most of your waking hours, then you tend to notice when mood and behaviors change.

Do not be afraid to ask. The worst the other person can do is deny there is an issue, but at-least that person knows there is someone who notices them and cares. If you do ask use open ended questions, be ready to listen without giving advice, be open to the information and be ready to help. Usually talking is enough, but if it comes to resources know who or what are in your area and know who/where you can turn to with questions. A number of employers are offering peer support programs for their employees. Ask if your employer offers a peer support program and if not find out if peer support is a concept they would embrace. For any questions you can contact me through my website at beginwithincounseling.com.

Support is not about success vs failure, feeling scared vs confident. If you have the courage to ask then you already made a positive impact on someone's life.

Andrea Begin, LPC

Andrea Begin, LPC

Andrea has over 16 years of counseling experience in a variety of settings. Andrea has a MA in Counseling Psychology and Counseling Education from University of Colorado.

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