Peer Support Program

Peer Support Program

A Peer Support training program for organizations with an elevated potential for employee stress

Certain jobs, such as emergency response, search and rescue, hospital and medical, trauma assistance, as well as a variety of other roles, regularly experience significant physical and emotional demands. The intense nature of this work can be gratifying but has been shown to negatively impact some workers in a variety of ways and can lead to significant emotional toll over time. Risks include burnout, secondary traumatic stress, and negative effects on one’s sense of health and wellbeing.

Peer Support is an evidence-informed resiliency and behavioral health initiative designed to address these needs. Peer Support can be instrumental in normalizing stress reactions, reducing stigma and barriers to other supports such as professional services, and can increase bonding of an organization or team. Peer Support also allows for a surveillance approach to stress and support outside of what is often defined as a critical incident or event. Instead of a group debrief, commonly called a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) immediately following an event, which may prove more harmful than beneficial, Peer Support can extend individualized support and check in on other’s days, weeks, and months after an event, and can also be available to support and discuss stressors outside of such an event.


The Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience Peer Support Model

The Peer Support program trains volunteers within an organization to become “Peer Supporters” by teaching them basic counseling and support skills and providing them with knowledge about stress and psychological trauma related to their occupation. With this training, these individuals can assist their peers with posttraumatic or occupational stress and guide them to an appropriate level of treatment when needed.


Benefits of the Peer Support Program

There are several benefits to implementing a Peer Support program approach, including:

  • A surveillance approach to monitor stress reactions and offer support outside of the immediate aftermath of a trauma or significant stress event
  • A definition of psychological trauma beyond what is defined as a critical event or critical incident
  • A focus on individual reactions, rather than the general reaction expressed by a group
  • Support that is optional and confidential
  • Individualized assessments and referrals tailored to the appropriate level and type of service
  • A forum for other non-trauma-based issues and problem
  • A method that enhances the use and effectiveness of natural trauma resolution and other coping mechanisms, rather than interfering with these processes
  • A more cost-effective delivery of tiered psychological services


What makes our training different?

We provide our Peer Support Training at the organization level. Material and training for Peer Support is customized to the organization to include specific experiences or stressors Peer Supporters may encounter. This allows trained Peer Supporters to create and foster a culture of structured peer support within the organization. The Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience can also work with leadership to further cultivate this culture. 



Initial Training New Peer Supporters: A licensed mental health professional from the Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience provides the initial Peer Support training. Initial training takes place over several consecutive days utilizing a cohort model, allowing a group of Peer Supporters to be trained at the same time, and creating trust among the group. This training can be conducted in-person or virtually.

Topics include:

  • Peer Support Basics (definition and implementation of a peer support program)
  • Understanding Stress
  • Critical Incident Stress, PTSD, Trauma, and Critical Incident Stress Management
  • Essential Counseling Skills
  • Conflict Management
  • Ethics and Confidentiality
  • Grief and Loss
  • Suicide
  • Depression, Anxiety, & Other Disorders
  • Substance Use
  • Peer Support Advisors, Supervision, and Protocols
  • Documentation Procedures


Optional Additional Services

Supervision of Peer Supporters:  The Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience can provide oversight and supervision for the Peer Supporters and the program, as well as provide resources as needed. The purpose of this is to assist the Peer Supporters in the daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly activities required to maintain the program.

Ongoing Training for Existing Peer Supporters: Peer Supporters can attend an hourly training on a quarterly basis to refresh their skills and learn new techniques.

Technology and Resources for Peer Supporters: Peer Supporters can be provided several technology-based tools and resources to aid in trauma and stress response for personal use as well as a resource to share with peers.



“The Peer Support Program has been such a great program for CDOT employees. The training provided to the Peer Supporters has really equipped me with additional tools to handle almost any issues that our organization and its employees go through. The overall running of the program has been very professional, supportive and has remained that way the entire two years I have been a part of the program.” – W. G.

“First and foremost:  Thank you!  This training has proved priceless for myself. Taking the skills I possessed and allowing them to be honed and sharpened has allowed me to become a better peer supporter. Even in the midst of COVID and virtual meetings, the training came across clearly and we were able to, in real time, practice these skills with each other. The material was presented in manageable "chunks" and the proctor was receptive to feedback and keeping our interest!  Thank you again!” – C.E.

“The program gave me a great refresher of my previous experience in Peer Support for Law Enforcement.  The program was great giving feedback to other participants and listening to the issues that worried them and letting them know it is ok, not to know it all.” – E. M.


Cost & Other Info

The cost associated with this program can vary greatly dependent on the way an organization chooses to structure their Peer Support training program. For a customized proposal for your organization, please click on the “Request Info” button below. 


Request Info



Please note our Peer Support program is not a substance recovery-based program. While the training does provide a foundational education on substance-use, it is not designed to be an ongoing recovery and relapse prevention service. 



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