Core Values and Boundaries

The Core Values are the intrinsic motivators to everything we do in peer support. They guide us when we might be undecided about what to do in a challenging situation. We can reflect on these core values when we need to make hard decisions. Read through the core values again below with boundary creation in mind.

Hope and Wholeness for All

This is the overarching value of peer support.

Core Value Moving towards hope and wholeness for all
Acknowledgement All human beings long to know and be known–to be seen for who we are, and deeply heard, without someone trying to fix or save us.
Mutuality The peer relationship is mutual and reciprocal. Peer support breaks down hierarchies. The peer support worker and the peer equally co-create the relationship, and both participate in boundary creation.
Strength-Based It is more motivating to move towards something rather than away from a problem. We intentionally build on already existing strengths. We thoughtfully and purposefully move in the direction of flourishing, rather than only responding to pain and oppression.
Self-Determination Self-determination is the right to make one’s own decisions and have freedom from coercion.

We support the facilitation and creation of an environment where people can feel free to tap into their inner motivation.

Peer support workers don’t fix or save. We acknowledge and hold space for resilience and inner wisdom.

Respect, Dignity and Equity All human beings have intrinsic value. Peer support workers acknowledge that deep worth by:

  • practicing cultural humility and sensitivity
  • serving with a trauma-informed approach
  • offering generosity of assumption* in communication and conflict
  • mindfully addressing personal biases

Peer support is about meeting people where they are at and serving others with a knowledge of equity.

Belonging and Community Peer support acknowledges that all human beings need to belong and be a part of a community. Peer support recognizes that many people have barriers that keep them from developing community. We actively work towards deconstructing those social blockades that prevent inclusion and acceptance. Peer support workers serve with a social justice mindset, and intentionally practice empathy, compassion & self-compassion.
Curiosity We are always intentional about how curiosity and inquiry support connection, growth, learning and engagement.

This curiosity isn’t fueled by personal gain but by a genuine interest in connection. We encourage curiosity while respecting the boundaries and protecting the privacy of the people we support.

We are continually curious, but not invasive, while challenging assumptions and narratives. We ask powerful questions. We offer generosity of assumption[1] to those who think differently than we do. We know that listening and asking questions are more important than providing answers.

For Reflection

  • Why do you think it’s important to check in with our core values in a dialogue about boundaries?
  • Which of these core values feels like it may be harder to hold to when you are working on boundaries?

Integrating Core Values when Establishing Boundaries

Whenever you are navigating a peer support relationship, whether that looks like having a simple conversation with a student asking about services or sitting with someone who is in distress–it is essential that you connect in with these core values.

While this may seem repetitive, it’s essential to remember that the Core Values should always be at the forefront of your approach to the work. When you feel confused or unsure about what to do in a certain situation, they can be a guidepost for you to be able to make tough decisions. They are meant to be a tool to support you.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself as you work on boundaries:

  • Does this decision encourage hope and wholeness for all (for the person I am working with, AND myself, because I am a mutual participant in this relationship)?
  • Am I acknowledging both my needs, and the other person’s needs in this conversation? Are both sets of needs a priority? If this is an ongoing relationship, are we both clear, and comfortable talking about what we need in the relationship?
  • Am I approaching boundary creation from a place of mutuality? Are both/all of us co-creating these boundaries while respecting the policies and procedures of the peer support program I am working within?
  • Is this conversation as strength-based as it can be? Are we moving towards where we want to go, rather than away from where we don’t want to be?
  • Are we making self-determination and intrinsic motivation key components in this process?
  • Am I offering respect to the other person? What does respect mean in terms of peer support? Am I creating an environment that encourages respect for all? (For example: how do I speak about others who aren’t present? Do I speak badly about people who aren’t there? Do I complain about others?)
  • Am I respecting the other person’s dignity? Am I approaching this conversation about boundaries with a trauma-informed lens? Am I clear? Does this feel safe for all involved? Am I aware of my personal biases around this topic? If there is conflict, do I choose to be aware of my assumptions? Do I choose to offer generosity of assumption?
  • Am I aware of equity issues in this conversation about boundaries? When I am aware of equity, I realize that some people have barriers that I might not have. For example, if I say: my boundary is I don’t take phone calls. I only want to receive texts or emails. What if the person only has a landline with no texting ability, and they have limited access to email? If that is the case, this boundary is inequitable. I will need to adjust so that communication can work for both of us.
  • Does this conversation encourage a sense of connection and belonging with the person? Is my tone kind and accepting? Am I intentionally choosing not to speak with unnecessary harshness about this topic? If I feel disconnection happening during this conversation, do I acknowledge the disconnect, and begin to reconnect?
  • Am I approaching this conversation with the spirit of curiosity? Am I asking the right questions to uncover anything that might be lurking under the surface? Am I engaging from a place of wanting to understand the other person?

  1. Note on the meaning of the term “generosity of assumption” from the Glossary of Terms: Assumptions happen when we don’t know the whole story and allow our brains to fill in the blanks. Often, we make negative assumptions about people or situations. Generosity of assumption means that we extend someone the most generous interpretation of their intent, actions, or words.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Post-Secondary Peer Support Training Curriculum Copyright © 2022 by Jenn Cusick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book