Peer Support Group Facilitation Training

On Friday January 30th the SHRC provided its first out of multiple trainings on how to facilitate a peer support group. The high demand from the community has inspired us to offer 2 more rounds of the introductory training and 2 rounds of the advanced. The introductory training is a peer support group in itself. It starts off with a walking group (weather permitting), introductions/check in, group objectives & agenda, and the creation of group guidelines/comfort agreement including how to talk about conflict in a group, the peer facilitator role, and boundaries. The training continues with peer support perspectives in mental health, a personal facilitator skills inventory, and individual action plans for next steps in starting a group. It concludes with a mindfulness practice and check out.

After completion of the intro training, participants are welcome to sign up for the advanced training where we will dive deeper into facilitator skill development and group challenges.

Participant feedback:

“Very helpful and relevant.”
“It was a great experience I learned a lot.”
“This workshop is exactly what I needed to go forward to my next step.”
“I like the skills building aspect that emphasizes organizing a peer program.”
“I liked that the attendees were a diverse bunch especially in their reasons for taking the training. I liked the location and the time it ended. I liked the two breaks we had because it gave me an opportunity to get fresh air and stretch my legs.”
“It was encouraging to realize that the action of peer-facilitation is becoming more widely accepted.”

Volunteer testimonials:

“Participating in the facilitator training was an excellent learning opportunity, as a placement student at SHRC. I feel the most useful and practical skill taught in this training was how to to negate conflict within a group. Having participated in a few groups and facilitated one, I have learned that conflict is inevitable; there will always be a difference of opinion and values that are brought to each group due to the natural diversity and variation within our communities. This exact notion of differing worldviews was also brought to the forefront in the training, demonstrating the importance of discourses within the context of comparing a medicalized model of mental health versus an everyday account of mental health. It was further explained that often times these differing and conflicting perspectives is the source of much conflict within groups. Therefore, understanding where our counterparts situate themselves within these discourses is imperative to resolving conflict. The style in which the training was taught was very useful as a participant interested in improving their skills as a peer support facilitator. The entirety of the training was organized similar as to how a support group should run from beginning to the end including some of the following; introductions, check-in’s, agenda and objectives, creating a comfort agreement, a series of topics, mindfulness and a check-out process. This set-up of the training was useful in understanding how a group should run within direct practice and further allowed the participants to take away a practical skill to implement within their own work. Also, the use of activities and post-it notes was my favourite part of the training. Often times, day trainings tends to become a lecture-style format in which all the participants are sitting and listening to the presenter while a slide show runs in the background. Having activities to do with all the participants, at your individual table and also in pairs, avoided this earlier fear and allowed for active engagement without getting bored or distracted. Lastly, the post-it notes were useful because it incorporated a visual and artistic component to the training, that is often lacking in other more traditional types of training.” ~ Caitlin Keating

“Assisting, as well as participating in the SHRC’s peer support group facilitation training, was an invaluable experience. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to help with some preparation for the group as well as being able to help others with their action plans. Making the action plans was very enjoyable and productive. Developing them lead to much needed direction and motivation to begin facilitating our own groups. The training content was detailed and very informative. The input from many of the participants regarding their past experiences in groups, discussing what worked and what didn’t, positively added to the discussion. The extensive facilitation experience of the SHRC’s peer support training facilitator, was very apparent with the level of knowledge she demonstrated and shared with the group. I found the peer support training to be extremely worthwhile and beneficial.” ~ Tammy Clayton

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