Core Values of Peer Support

Despite the diversity and the potential differences in practice, there are common values and principles that are fundamental to all peer support.

Hope and Wholeness for All

Hope is the spark that motivates us to step into the realm of possibility. All growth and change, whether we realize it or not, begins with hope.

In peer support we choose to believe that everyone we work with has the capacity for healing, growth, and life satisfaction. Hope is a core value of this work, and we choose to nurture and cultivate it in ourselves and others.

We understand that healing and growth don’t come easily, but that holding onto hope can make all the difference in someone’s life.

Hope is different than optimism. There is much more to hope than looking at the bright side. Hope is messy and uncertain. Acting on hope is brave and courageous, and always involves risk of some kind. Hope is not sentimental. It’s gritty and can sometimes feel scary.

“Wholeness does not mean perfection;
it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life. Knowing this gives me hope that human wholeness–mine, yours, ours–need not be a utopian dream, if we can use
devastation as a seedbed for new life.”
~Parker J. Palmer, (A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life)

Wholeness means a coming together of all the parts of ourselves. It’s about seeing our full selves as a wonderful whole, including our strengths, giftings, AND our imperfections.
In peer support we believe that this kind of hope and wholeness is accessible for everyone.

Hope and wholeness for all includes the practice of cultivating compassion for both self and others.

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.

*A mutual approach means that peer support workers always avoid advice-giving.

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 We support the facilitation and creation of an ecology 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[1] 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* to those who think differently than we do. We know that listening and asking questions are more important than providing answers.

  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.


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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.

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