A successful course on peer support

Image: Juni Raak Høiseth

The 12th to 13th of December, peer support specialists and professionals from Oslo, Rogaland, Oppland, and Trøndelag came together to attend the course on peer support specialists’ function and role.

This was the first initiative from KBT to establish a community for peer specialists. The first day focused on the dissemination of experiences from the project «Practice and attitude development through peer support specialists in outreach teams». Juni Raak Høiseth spoke about peer support specialists, and the roles they fulfill.


This prompted eager discussions, and many seemed to agree peer specialists can provide attitude adjustments through the understanding of other perspectives. The consensus was that peer specialists can ensure that the patient’s voice is preserved, by keeping their «experience-goggles». They aid in building relations, and provide hope. There was pointed out that we are approaching a paradigm shift in psychiatry; becoming more concerned about functionality than diagnosis. Peer specialists can help with this development.

Image: Astrid Weber

Finding the answers together

Astrid Weber spoke about the role peer support specialists fill at a systematic level, and what it means to be professional as a peer specialist.

Another topic during the gathering was Recovery. Dagfinn Bjørgen went through Patricia Deegan’s recovery-model. Recovery is about the right to choose; absence of options can result in a learned hopelessness. Encourage the patients to make their own decisions, but find the answers together. All parties should receive the same knowledge, as it seems as though the knowledge of the staff is rarely passed on to the patients.

Image: Dagfinn Bjørgen about recovery


The last topic was «Consultation theory, and ways of sharing experience», by Astrid and Karl Johan Johansen. Johansen mentioned that as a peer specialist, one may find himself in situations of ethical concerns. It’s important to take the time reflect over this issue.

Astrid highlighted the importance of colleague consultation, and reflecting over questions like «what is this job doing to me? » and «who am I in this job? ». She thinks everyone should take part in ethical reflections in their workplace. One needs to find his or hers own strengths and limitations in this job.


Resources on peer support specialists (all in Norwegian)

Handbook for peer support specialists: http://www.erfaringskompetanse.no/handbok-for-erfaringskonsulenter/

Training and consultation for peer support specialists:  http://www.erfaringskompetanse.no/?s=oppl%C3%A6ring+og+veiledningsbehov

Results from a survey on peer support specialists: http://www.erfaringskompetanse.no/nyheter/resultatet-av-erfaringskonsulentundersokelsen/


TEXT AND PHOTO: Ingvild M. Kvisle

About Anne B. Plathe

Project team member in KBT. Works with Canada-Norway research collaboration, User Interviews User, web page and social media.