Things to know about the Training

Who Should Deliver this Training?

Facilitators of this training should:

  • Be very familiar with peer support–make sure to read the entire curriculum before facilitating, so that you can be prepared for anything that could come up in a training
  • Read the Leadership & Facilitation module
  • Facilitate with a trauma-informed approach
  • Be familiar with mental health and substance use issues
  • Be open to a co-learning approach–you don’t have to be an expert, but be open to learning from participants and others
  • Bring in guest presenters for topics you are not comfortable facilitating
  • Be able to tap into lived experience, and be willing to share personal stories and anecdotes

If you are a staff or faculty member, please consider bringing in a student peer who has been doing this work for a little while, to co-facilitate with you. This whole training is grounded in mutuality, and breaking down hierarchies, it is important to bring some mutuality into the training itself.


Each campus and group will have different amounts of time available for training. We recognize that students will only be providing peer services for one–three years maximum. This means that you will be delivering this training often so that you always have students available to provide services. You must figure out what timing and format works for you, and fits with the timeframe you have available. Anything we recommend in this guide is just that–a recommendation.

You have freedom to use this curriculum in whatever way works for you, your students, and your program. 

In-Person vs Self-Study

Because of the length of this training, it will be impossible to cover all of the material in an in-person training. This means there must be a component of self-study for students to cover on their own, or on their own in small groups.

Pick the modules that you feel are important to cover in-person, and then ask students to read the others on their own.

We know that in-person learning can be a richer experience for people, as they get a chance to dialogue about it with their peers. You may want to open up time during in-person sessions for students to discuss the most important points from modules that are read-only.

You can also use some of the modules as continuing education throughout the year.

Training Essentials

Learning Objectives

As you will have seen throughout the training, each module has a set of important learning objectives. Learning objectives tell participants what they’re going to be learning. Learning objectives are always actionable. They’re also a powerful tool for facilitators, as you can use them to guide activities, discussions and structuring facilitation and focus for each module.

Each module has 3-5 key learning objectives. Before you facilitate, be familiar with these objectives, as this will help you to decide what is important to cover and what can be left out.

Feel free to adjust the learning objectives if you feel they need to change for your particular group.

When we facilitate, we must “begin with the end in mind.” This means we need to be clear about what we want people to leave the session with and then facilitate the training with this goal in mind. We want clarity about what we’re doing at each step, ensuring that all learning objectives are clear and measurable.

Core Values

Everything we do in peer support work, and in this training, is built on the core values. Make sure to talk about the core values at the beginning and throughout each session.

Give participants a handout with the core values and definitions on it, so everyone can refer to it often throughout the training. Consider printing a larger version to keep in a visible spot during the training.

There is a handout included at the end of each module that you can print.


The modules are written to be stand alone rather than to build on each other. This is because we recognize that many post-secondary institution (PSI) peer support teams will not be able to cover all of them during their training.

This is how the modules are organized in the training:

  • Introduction to Post-Secondary Peer Support Training (this is meant to be a pre-reading for participants, although you could cover some of these topics in-person if you wish)
  • Creating an Ecology of Self-Determination
  • Cultural Humility
  • Boundaries
  • Principles in Trauma-Informed Care
  • Connection & Communication
  • The Hard Stuff
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Building Personal Resilience
  • Leadership and Facilitation

Foundational Modules & Topics for In-Person Training

We recommend covering the following modules and topics when training individuals for any role within the peer support umbrella, whether it’s a more mental health focussed role or a peer academic coach. Someone who is working strictly as an academic coach will not likely need to cover topics from The Hard Stuff module, like what to do when someone is having an acute psychiatric crisis, but they will need to cover topics such as communication, boundaries, cultural humility, and self-determination. It will ultimately be up to you to decide what you think your students need to cover, but we will give you some suggestions as a jumping off point here.

Again, it is best practice to ask students to read the entire module that you are covering. However, you won’t have time to cover all of it during the training itself. You can pick and choose what you think are the most important topics for your group to cover. We are listing some ideas here to support you with your decision.

The following modules we feel are important for all student peers to be exposed to prior to volunteering or working. While there is freedom and flexibility in implementation, in some cases a topic or module is so vital/crucial for anyone stepping into a particular type of peer support role (i.e. cultural humility for those working with international students) that we have used language that expresses the necessity of such training.

Module Minimum Topics to Cover 
Creating the Ecology of Self-Determination
  • Worldview, categories and containers, and why we judge
  • Implicit bias
  • Self-Determination Theory including intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and Competence, Autonomy, & Relatedness
  • Avoiding advice-giving
Cultural Humility
  • Culture defined & how you personally connect to culture
  • Impact of colonization
  • Worldview, culture, and belief systems
  • Cultural humility
  • Honouring other cultures in peer support work

*Anyone who works specifically with International students must cover this module in its entirety.

  • The difference between boundaries and ethics or a code of conduct
  • Role clarification & Boundaries: how to balance mutuality and boundaries in peer support work
  • Communicating our boundaries
  • Personal boundaries

*Include covering all of your program’s policies and procedures around boundaries, modes of communication that are required, and social media usage.

Principles of Trauma-Informed Care
  • Definition and principles of trauma informed care
  • Defining trauma and understanding its impact on the body
  • The importance of safety, predictability and choice in our peer support interactions
Connection and Communication
  • Listening to understand
  • Compassion and empathy, and learning to ask compassionate questions
  • Safety in communication
  • Working through conflict

Depending on the roles and experience of members on your peer team , you may want to cover some or all aspects of the following modules:

  • The Hard Stuff (In this module we cover the basics of mental health including acute psychiatric crisis, suicide, grief and loss, and harm reduction).
  • Social Determinants of Health (This module focuses on social justice issues that could very well impact many of the students who utilize peer services. However, you may decide that this module is not necessary for all peer support roles. This module can be a good reference for you as a facilitator though. You can refer to it whenever you feel the need, or use some of the reflection questions and exercises in the training or at team meetings to get important dialogues going).
  • Building Personal Resilience (If your team is struggling with stress or any aspect of their own mental health, this module is a good one to cover. You can also cover sections of this module along the way at team meetings or group gatherings.)
  • Peer Leadership and Facilitation (This module is an important reference for you as a facilitator of this training. However, it is entirely optional for the peer support workers/volunteers on your team. If you have anyone who is in a leadership role, or is facilitating workshops, then this is an important module for them to cover and continually reference as they facilitate).

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