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Peer Helping

What is Peer Helping?


*Peer Helping refers to formal and informal occasions in a defined community where two or more individuals whith mutually perceived similarities interact - and where at least one of them, who has had appropriate training, intentionally assists at least one of the others.


Peer Helping at the Nelson Mandela University


Peer Helping is a mutual learning situation in which Nelson Mandela University students, who have received special training, listen to and help facilitate the growth and development of other students.

Selected peer helpers attend a training programme which focusses on self-knowledge, relationship building and the transference of skills, such as non-verbal and verbal communication styles; empathic listening and responding, feedback, decision-making and problem-solving, value clarification, confidentiality, referral and ethics.  Trained peer helpers can serve as role models who formally and informally transfer their skills to peers, friends and families.

Following the core training, additional training and reflective practice sessions cover other topics, service delivery topics such as learning support (assisting with academic and learning skills), career information and employability skills and life style enhancement.


Why Peer Helping and where does it come from?


It is a well-documented fact that only a minority of students ever go and see Student Counselling or Support Services when experiencing some or other personal concern.  They rely primarily on their friends/peers as sources of assistance.  This lead to the design of a peer help training programme, aiming at the refinement and reinforcement of existing communication and helping skills of friends/peers.

A Student Counselling staff member received official certification in peer helper training from Peer Resources in Canada (leaders in this field) after having participated in the basic and advanced training workshops for peer helper trainers.  The Peer Help Training Programme was subsequently introduced to staff and students in Higher Education in South Africa - and eventually also to some higher education institutions abrouad such as in Australia, Sweden and Michigan (in the United States).

Currently staff of the Nelson Mandela University Student Counselling Centre are actively involved in training trainers and peer helpers.  Through the years they have also been playing a leading role in the on-going adaptation of the Canadical training manuals for South African contextand in the development of new advanced training modules and training materials.




* A person who has equal standing with others, as in rank, class, or age, or experience.