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Peer support: everything you should know about it!

The term peer support describes the process of mutual provision of knowledge, help and emotional empowerment among people who bear the same status, e.g. among students of beneficiaries of a certain service. The distinguishing characteristic of peer support is that the source of support is a peer that holds an equal status with the rest of the group members and is not in a superior or “expert” position. In fact, peer support is a methodology that can be applied in several contexts, most notably within the educational system or health settings with a common aim: the empowerment of the group by the group itself. 


In the educational context, peer support can take the following forms:

  • Peer mentoring: an older students assumes the role of mentor for the younger ones.
  • Peer listening: students are trained to active listening and effective communication within the school community.

In the health context, peer support has the following applications:

  • In addiction care, where users try to overcome substance abuse.
  • In disability settings, where people with disabilities provide support to each other. 
  • In chronic illness and pain management, where patients can share the difficulties. 
  • In trauma survivors.
  • In anxiety and mood disorders, especially in the context of group therapy.

Peer support is a methodology that has mutual positive impact on both the supporters and the supported ones as these are roles which are constantly exchanged among the members of the peer support groups.