This web site is a pilot effort to teach peer helping skills to adolescents and young adults. Below are some questions about peer helping. You can also find out more about the training offered by this site, online helping and finding help.
What is peer helping?
Let us define both "peer" and "help." Your "peers" are people who have a status similar to you. For example, if you are a teenager, then other teens would be your peers. Sometimes peer refers to more specific characteristics such as other teens who have your same interests or who may be experiencing some of the same difficulties in life. For example, the peer of a "teen parent" would be another "teen parent."
Throughout this web site "help" generally refers to emotional support or advice. It roughly means the same as showing care and concern and trying to assist someone else in dealing with personal problems.
So "peer helping" means when people who are similar are providing emotional support or advice to others like themselves. In this web site "peer help" is about teens helping other teens.
People become peer helpers because they want to help others. A lot of times when people have received help and they really know how important it was to them, they want to give something back to others.
There are lots of opportunities for peer helpers. Many high schools and colleges and other teen groups train and use peer helpers. For example in high schools and colleges peer helpers may assist new students in getting adjusted or they may help students who are having particular adjustment of learning problems.
Yes, there are variety of problems that can occur in peer helping situations. There are some problems that are not appropriate for peer helpers. In particular, situation involving severe crises or danger to oneself or others are not appropriate for peer helpers. Good peer helpers know their limitations and should advise people to seek other types of help. Also, the help you would get regarding a crisis or dangerous situation from a peer helper might not be really helpful. It could even be harmful. Peer help in crisis situations is not a good idea for anyone.
The most important skill that peer helpers need is the ability to communicate well with others. This means be able to listen well so that they understand what other person is thinking and feeling, learning how to ask questions that help other people understand their situation better and giving ideas to others in ways that will be helpful. Peer helpers also need to know about ethical ways of helping and understand limits on their ability to help, especially when another person is in a crisis situation.
If you are interested in peer helping by adolescents and young adults, then this web site is one place in which you can find out more about peer helping. For more about what you can learn at this web site, see the Introduction to the course. There are also some good books on this topic that you might be interested in. These are:
Many high schools, colleges and other groups that work with young people have information about peer helping. You can find out by asking teachers, school counselors, clergy, and youth leaders.