Firstly, what peer support isn't!
Peer support can be therapeutic and does compliment other support and mental health interventions well, but it is not intended to be therapy or counselling or to replace those services. Peer supporters at Aupeer can't diagnose or treat health issues or offer professional advice. If you are experiencing mental health challenges and need support or are in crisis our peer facilitators always check in with you to discuss and then signpost you to the professional services that should be able to support you appropriately.
Peer support differs from therapy in it's approach in a number of ways. For example, a peer relationship should be non-hierarchical. There is no assumed hierarchy of knowledge or experience, unlike for example in a Doctor/Patient relationship, and a peer relationship is forged through choice, rather than being forced on an individual due to external factors. Peer support is provided by experts by experience, at Aupeer this means our peer support offering is shaped and powered by the lived experience of autistic people.
Peer support at Aupeer is about using our life experience to help others and ourselves. We provide social interaction and connection in a friendly and informal space. As peers, we share our knowledge, coping strategies or provide emotional support. We say this is how I experience something, this is how I cope with such challenge and other peers can take that knowledge and if useful adjust and apply to their own circumstances enabling personal responsibility and choice, an empowering combination.
Everyone’s experiences are treated as equally important and no-one is more of an expert than anyone other group member. Our support is on a reciprocal basis and we help each other along the way to better well being through better understanding of ourselves and society, through role modelling and through promoting the benefits of our community and of a positive identity for us as autistic people.
At Aupeer peer support is about authenticity, acceptance, empathy, hope and connection. If that sounds like something you would like to be a part of we'd love to meet you, please get in touch or register for our peer support services: firstname.lastname@example.org and www.aupeer.org.uk/services .