Appendix 1: Standards of Practice for Peer Support Workers

The following BC peer support standards of practice emerged from the provincial peer support project. They are written for peer support workers to guide their practice whether they work in the community or on a campus. They are also meant to be a guide for supervisors and leaders to support the oversight of peer services.

Depending on your role on campus, some of these standards will pertain to you, and some will not. Make sure to check in with your supervisor regarding the guidelines for your role.

Standards of Practice Components & Competencies

  1. Peer Specialized Proficiencies
    1. Demonstrates understanding that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to recovery and wholeness. Each person needs to discover what goals, values, and beliefs work for them. Peer support workers recognize that others’ paths may be quite different from their own.
    2. Demonstrates an awareness and understanding of self-determination and is able to apply it to the peer relationship. Understands that advice-giving and fixing are antithetical to self-determination.
    3. Demonstrates a commitment to mutuality. The peer support worker does, however, acknowledge and recognize that there can still be a power differential when in a formal role. The peer support worker actively works to create mutuality and equality, while honouring boundaries and deeply respecting the well-being of the recipient of the services.
    4. Chooses to self-disclose and share aspects of their personal story in a way that supports the building of the relationship, connection, and inspiring hope. Understands the importance of avoiding the sharing of traumatic details that can trigger a stress response in someone else.
    5. Engages in active ongoing learning.
  2. Principles of Supporting Wellness, Wholeness, Recovery and Social Belonging
    1. Actively creates and engages in self-care practices that support their own well-being.
    2. Demonstrates awareness of their own stressors and triggers and has a plan to support their own well-being through those challenges.
    3. Actively chooses to practice empathy and compassion in interactions.
    4. Recognizes the importance of clear, well-defined boundaries. Practices co-creating boundaries with the person they are supporting. *Ask for support from your program supervisor when needed.
    5. Demonstrates knowledge of recovery-oriented practices including but not limited to harm reduction, trauma-informed care, and the importance of person-first language.
    6. Supports peers to discover strengths, explore new possibilities, and continue to build resilience.
  3. Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity
    1. Is aware of, and actively reflects on their own set of values and beliefs.
    2. Is mindfully aware that they have a set of personal biases, and actively makes space for different perspectives.
    3. Understands and can apply intercultural sensitivity towards all cultural groups. Works to avoid stereotyping.
    4. Understands the harmful effects of colonization and privilege and works to reduce harm.
    5. Understands how stigma and the Social Determinants of Health can affect someone’s life experience.
    6. Respects a diversity of modalities and interventions, even if different than their own personal approach.
  4. Facilitating Communication and Connection
    1. Demonstrates an understanding of, and sensitivity towards the effect of personal communication style on others.
    2. Communicates clearly, respectfully, and effectively through spoken, written, and electronic modalities
    3. Recognizes the importance of, and chooses to use, person-first language[1] in regard to physical and mental health challenges.
    4. Uses identity-first language* for those who prefer that.
    5. Understands the importance of community and belonging that is needed for one’s sense of well-being and supports community inclusion.
    6. Actively practices compassionate and empathetic communication.
  5. Collaboration and Ethical Practice
    1. Works respectfully and effectively with clinical and community staff, as well as with the peer’s personal supporters.
    2. Demonstrates an understanding of the non-negotiable nature of the Code of Conduct.
    3. Effectively collaborates with stakeholders in a way that supports the overall existence of, reputation and respect for peer support within the province.

Peer Support Canada’s Code of Conduct

(Reprinted with permission from Peer Support Canada)[2]

Peer Support Canada is an organization that provides certification to peer support workers across Canada.

The following is the Code of Conduct that their certified peer supporters are required to follow:

  • I will act ethically, according to the values and principles of peer support
  • I will treat all people with respect and dignity I will respect human diversity and will foster non-discriminatory activities I will honour the rights, beliefs and personal values of individuals
  • I will behave with honesty and integrity in providing support to peers
  • 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
  • I will not knowingly expose a peer to harm I will not take advantage of the peer relationship for personal benefit, material or financial gain
  • I will respect the boundaries of peer support work and will not engage in romantic or sexual relationships with the peers that I support
  • I will not provide peer support in a manner that negatively affects the public’s confidence in peer support

  1. See Glossary of Terms for definitions.
  2. Used with permission. Peer Support Canada Code of Conduct. Peer Support Canada.

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