Fundamental Principles Within Peer Support

Code of Ethics vs. Code of Conduct

Let’s start this section by looking at the differences and similarities between a code of ethics and a code of conduct.

Both provide guidance on how people behave.

A code of ethics can be more general and abstract in nature and is meant to provide support with decision-making. A code of conduct on the other hand is a set of clear directives, often influenced by a code of ethics – that are meant to guide specific behaviours.

It is likely that your school has both a code of ethics and a student code of conduct. You may even have to sign a code of conduct when you work, or volunteer.

Action: Take a few minutes to research your school’s code of ethics and student code of conduct.

For Reflection

  • Did you notice a difference between the two documents? If so, what is the difference?
  • Why do you think the code of conduct exists?
  • How do you think a code of conduct influences boundary creation?

Peer Support Canada’s Code of Conduct

Peer Support Canada has published a code of conduct for peer support services across Canada. We have chosen to use their code of conduct for both the community and Post Secondary Institution (PSI) peer support trainings. We hope that organizations in BC integrate it into their policies and procedures.

The statements and expectations within a code of conduct are not as fluid or flexible as boundaries. In fact, they are rigid and are considered non-negotiable for everyone in peer support work.

Below is the Peer Support Canada Code of Conduct (shared with permission):

  1. I will act ethically, according to the values and principles of peer support
  2. I will treat all people with respect and dignity
  3. I will respect human diversity and will foster non-discriminatory activities
  4. I will honour the rights, beliefs and personal values of individuals
  5. I will behave with honesty and integrity in providing support to peers
  6. I will respect the privacy of individuals and maintain confidentiality within the limitations of program policies and the law e.g. potential harm to self or others
  7. I will not knowingly expose a peer to harm
  8. I will not take advantage of the peer relationship for personal benefit, material, or financial gain
  9. I will respect the boundaries of peer support work and will not engage in romantic or sexual relationships with the peers that I support
  10. I will not provide peer support in a manner that negatively affects the public’s confidence in peer support.

For Reflection

  • How would you elaborate on the above statements?
  • Do you think these statements are easy or hard to live out? Why or why not?
  • Out of all the statements in this list, which do you think will be the hardest to follow?

Post-Secondary Institution (PSI) Standards of Practice

Before moving on into a more detailed look at boundaries within peer support work, take a moment to look back at the Peer Support Core Values listed above, and refresh in your memory the five standards of practice in the PSI Standards of Practice document listed below. As we begin co-creating boundaries within peer support relationships, it’s important to keep these in mind.

The five standards for peer support work are:

  1. Peer Specialized Proficiencies
  2. Principles of Supporting Wellness, Wholeness, Recovery and Social Belonging
  3. Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity
  4. Facilitating Communication and Connection
  5. Collaboration and Ethical Practice

How do you think these standards would influence boundaries within peer support?

What relevance do you think they have on your campus peer support work?


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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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