Unlocking The Unique Power Of Peer Support Models

The different models and strategies in peer support play a big role in how services are delivered. But what are the models and strategies of peer support?

Well, whether you are just getting started or just want to brush up on your knowledge, this guide will help you understand how these models work. We will look at each one’s unique aspects and the impact they can have on the recovery process.

Table of Contents

What are peer support Models?

Peer support models are the approaches we use to provide support, guidance, and encouragement. These frameworks are designed to help peer specialists remain consistent and effective.

More importantly, they aim to create a supportive and collaborative community. All of this, while serving as a way to deliver practical knowledge and skills to those seeking to achieve sustained recovery.

It might be helpful to think of them as the different styles of peer support.

There are many different types of peer support such as mental health, substance abuse, family, etc.

Still, each of the different forms of peer support uses these same styles when interacting with individuals seeking help.

Peer support models

Making Them Your Own

To be sure, you will bring your own personality to the support you provide. That being said, these styles act as guidelines to ensure that peer support services remain consistent throughout different organizations and programs.

Peer support models focus on building connections, sharing knowledge, and promoting empowerment.

They can take various forms such as support groups, one-on-one coaching or mentor relationships, educational programs, and community-based programs. What’s more, inside each of these models there are many different roles and responsibilities that you might take on as a peer support worker.

Models of Peer Support

Let’s take a deeper look at the different models of peer support. Each one is unique in that we are able to engage and provide support in a different way.

Psychoeducation and Skill-Building

Psychoeducation and skill building programs are designed to provide the individuals we work with valuable knowledge and skills to manage and support their recovery. Key components of this model include:

Education on mental health:

Educating about mental health conditions including symptoms causes, and treatment options, and coping strategies. This helps individuals develop a deeper understanding of their experiences.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Khalil Gibran

Education on Substance Abuse:

Teaching individuals about substance abuse, the recovery process, and the resources and tools available to them. This allows the people we work with to find the path best suited for them while providing encouragement and experience along the way.

Coping Skills Development:

Teaching individuals various coping skills, such as stress management, relaxation techniques, problem solving, and effective communication. These skills are essential to the recovery process and enable the people we work with to navigate challenges, while improving their wellbeing.

Wellness Planning:

Assisting in creating personalized wellness plans that encompass self-care strategies, triggers and early warning signs, crisis management, and the identification of support networks.

By assisting we can help teach them the process for creating and implementing these plans while still allowing them to make their own choices in their recovery. If your looking for a resource to help you plan some of these groups, be sure to check out 365: Wellness & Recovery.

Psychoeducation and skill building are practical and straightforward approaches that involves direct teaching. Typically, there are specific topics that are covered in depth by the facilitator with interactive exercises and other methods of teaching.

Peer-Led Groups

Peer-led groups provide a safe and non-judgmental space for people to share their experiences and receive support from others who have gone through similar challenges.

This also serves to validate and acknowledge people’s struggles and successes along the way. Key elements of this model include:

Shared Experience:

Peer-led groups create connections based on shared experience, which fosters a sense of belonging and understanding. Members are able to empathize, provide practical advice, and emotional support to one another.

Peer Facilitation:

Trained peers lead the support groups, ensuring a supportive and inclusive atmosphere. They guide discussions, encourage active participation, and provide resources and information when needed. To learn more about group facilitation, be sure to check out The Ultimate Guide To Facilitating A Peer Support Group

Mutual Support and Learning:

Through group discussions and activities, participants learn from each other’s experiences and gain new perspectives. Similarly, it allows them to discover new coping strategies that have worked well for their fellow peers.

Peer-led groups are incredible places of support and collaboration. Personally, this is one of my favorites. Mainly because it leads to deep conversations and allows for shared knowledge on a topic.

This is where peer support shines because we all have the chance to learn from each other.

Recovery Coaching and Mentoring

Recovery coaching and mentoring involve a one-on-one relationship between a peer coach or mentor and the individual seeking support.

This model focuses on guiding and empowering individuals throughout their recovery journey. Key features of this approach include:

“You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself”

Goal setting and Action Planning:

Coaches and mentors work closely with individuals to set meaningful goals and develop action plans that line up with their personal aspirations, strengths, and values. They provide ongoing support, accountability, and encouragement.

Supportive Guidance:

Coaches and mentors offer guidance, support, and resources to help individuals overcome obstacles and build resilience. They provide personalized support specifically tailored to the needs of that person.

Role Modeling and Inspiration:

Because of their lived experience, coaches and mentors serve as role models. More importantly, they demonstrate that lasting recovery is not only possible, but one can live a happy and meaningful life. They inspire hope, provide reassurance, and share personal insights.

Peer-Run Organizations and Recovery Centers

Peer-run organizations and recovery centers are community-based entities that provide comprehensive support services to individuals seeking recovery.

These organizations are often led by individuals with lived experience and operate on principles of peer support.

Key components of this model include:

Holistic Support:

Peer-run organizations and recovery centers offer a range of services, including support groups, workshops, educational programs, advocacy, and referral to community resources. They address the diverse needs of individuals in all types of recovery.

Community Integration:

These organizations actively promote community integration by facilitating social connections, organizing events, and engaging in community outreach. They create an inclusive and supportive environment where individuals can thrive.

Empowerment and Leadership Opportunities:

Peer-run organizations and recovery centers empower individuals by providing opportunities to develop leadership skills, engage in peer advocacy, and actively contribute to the organization’s activities and decision-making processes.

Recovery centers and peer run organizations are dedicated spaces where individuals can access a wide range of services. Inside one of these organizations you may find multiple models of peer support.

They might include support groups, educational workshops, counseling, skill building programs or other wellness activities.

Where Do You Fit Into These Models?

Working in peer support, you will probably find yourself working in numerous roles that include different models of peer support. In fact, you might find that you engage in psychoeducation, skill building, and mentoring all in the same day!

No one model is better than the other.

Each model has its own unique qualities and provides the space for individuals to feel seen and understood. As you find your own unique style and approach, they are there to guide you.

We hope this article was helpful and we want to thank you for the work you do. 

Speaking of work, could you leave us a comment and let us know how we’re doing? Your feedback helps us deliver helpful content that fits the specific needs of peer support.  

Elijah Meason


Elijah Meason is a Certified Peer Support Worker in the State of New Mexico. He is a SMART Recovery facilitator and is working toward getting his Masters degree in social work. He is currently working at a dual diagnosis treatment center helping individuals overcome mental health and addiction challenges.

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14 Discussion Topics for Peer Support Groups

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