Module 3: Establishing the Peer Relationship/Fostering Change Copy



This module addresses several communication related topics, beginning with the fundamentals of effective communication and how these relate to establishing the peer support relationship. It also addresses both establishing and terminating the peer support service relationship. The module then looks at the types of peer conversations that underlie the work of the peer specialist, with an added look at newer methods of technology-based conversations and the importance in setting boundaries.

This module also explores how the use of recovery stories by peer specialists and the persons they serve can be inspiring through appropriate conveyance of common ground in the issues and challenges each face, hope, and the possibility of recovery embedded in personal stories. Caveats related to how recovery stories are constructed and retold are examined.

This module also introduces the foundational concepts, principles, and processes in Motivational Interviewing (MI). It explores how MI is a natural fit for use by peer specialists in its core values and intended outcomes for change. Two beginning techniques are introduced that peer specialists can use to engage clients in the change process and resolve the ambivalence that prevents clients from realizing personal goals.


  • Forming Connections
    • Establishing peer support relationships
    • Building Rapport
  • Effective Communication Skills
    • Foundational Communication Skills
    • Non-Verbal Communication
    • Effective Listening
    • Empathy
  • Structure of the Peer Relationship
    • The First Meeting
    • Peer Support Conversations
    • Technology-based Conversations
    • Telling Your Personal Story/Shared Identification
      • Self-Disclosure Issues
    • Setting Boundaries
  • Motivational Interviewing
    • Two Foundational Skills
  • Termination of the Service Relationship

Learning Objectives

After completing this module, participants will be able to:

  • List three indicators of a healthy, supportive relationship.
  • Demonstrate the fundamental communication skills needed in peer support relationships.
  • Describe the elements of rapport building.
  • Identify four important listening skills.
  • Explain at least five key areas for establishing effective peer support relationships.
  • Describe the various ways peer support services are being delivered through the use of technology-based strategies.
  • List three pros and cons of using technology-based methods for delivering peer support services.
  • Explain at least four guidelines for the peer specialists who are sharing their recovery story with persons they serve.
  • Explain the rationale for having a positive, recovery-focused story.
  • Describe five ways Motivational Interviewing principles can be integrated into peer support practice.
  • Describe the four core principles and four core processes of Motivational Interviewing (MI).
  • Define “ambivalence” in the MI context.
  • Describe how Readiness Rulers and Decision Balancing are used to support change talk.
  • List the steps involved in terminating the service relationship.

Module Activities

  • Module 3 Reflection Activity: Valued Supportive Relationship
  • Module 3 Reflections Activity: Telling Your Recovery Story
  • Module 3 Activity: Recovery Story Analysis
  • Module 3 Activity: Recovery Story Statements

Workbook Activities

After you have completed all of the module 3 lessons below, complete the following activities your course workbook:

  • Workbook Activity 1: Writing Your Recovery Story (60 minutes)
  • Workbook Activity 2: Practice of MI Skills: Readiness Rulers (90 minutes)

Module 3 Quiz

After you have completed all of the module 3 lessons below and the workbook activities, you will be able to click the button at the bottom of this page to complete the Module 3 Quiz and advance to Module 4.