Psychosocial Support

Peer-to-Peer Pyschosocial Support Work

With our conviction that peace begins at home. CEDAC, in partnerships with the Centre for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR) at the James Madison University, developed a method called peer-to-peer psychosocial support. This process is when a peer helps another to recover from trauma related to their past through a social support network.

Peer-to-peer support happens when someone who has survived and recovered from a traumatic experience provides emotional, psychological and practical support to others who are struggling to overcome the consequences of a similar nature. A peer is someone who is similar in fundamental ways: same gender, similar age, similar education, same socio-cultural origin. This is not to say that without these similarities no support can take place. However, it is the nature of the peer relationship that establishes a rapport and a bond between two survivors.

Peer-to-peer support is not a form of therapy, although it has been shown to facilitate recovery from traumatic experiences, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research suggests that peer support is beneficial to both parties and that it can facilitate trauma recovery more quickly than other relationships, especially in the first two years after a traumatic experience.

Peer support can be a potent tool for peacebuilding. In communities victimized by war-related violence, peers help one another manage feelings of anger and bitterness and put their energy into positive activities, including reconstruction, reconciliation and forgiveness. Peer groups can advocate for legislative reform and help educate survivors on their rights. Finally, peer support is contagious: recipients of peer support are frequently inspired to help others in the same way.