top of page

Peer Counseling I

Mental & Behavioral Health Counselor
Career Pathway Course Units

Unit 1: Peer Counseling Basics

Peer counselors are compassionate guides. They apply knowledge, use specific tools, and follow certain rules to help people get past obstacles and reach their goals. One of the tools counselors use is treating others with deep respect. The rules counselors follow include setting therapeutic boundaries and keeping confidentiality with those they help. A counselor’s knowledge base must include the five universal human needs of physical well-being: security, belonging, appreciation, and personal development.

Unit 2: Communicating Needs & Feelings

Peer counselors understand that emotions are a universal language. Emotions provide us with useful information, and they help us make decisions and connect with others. The emotions people feel reflect how well their basic needs are— or are not—being met. When counselors are familiar with the seven basic emotions and how they relate to our universal human needs, it helps them assess what a person needs to do to feel better. Because expressing emotions effectively helps individuals fulfill their own needs, it is a skill that counselors must role model and teach.

Unit 3: Needs, Feelings & Human Behavior

Peer counselors are aware of what people have in common and what causes them to behave differently. They know human behavior is shaped by how well our basic needs are met, the temperament we are born with, the habits of early caregivers, our environment, and our understanding of emotions. Some of the behaviors people develop and habitually use are protective behaviors, designed to keep them emotionally and physically safe. Counselors recognize these protective behaviors and call them defense mechanisms. Some are very ineffective and prevent people from getting what they want or need.

Unit 4: Listening, Questioning, Paraphrasing & Reflecting

Peer counselors use a unique set of tools to help others reach their goals. Counselors practice active listening by giving their complete attention to what someone is saying, and they respond without judgment. Facilitative questioning is used to help peers talk about feelings, explore their issues, and find solutions. Counselors employ the tools of paraphrasing and reflecting to clarify what peers have shared, convey sincere interest, and help individuals identify their needs and emotions.

Unit 5 - Feedback, Body Language, Summarizing, & Assessing

Peer counselors use a unique set of tools to help others reach their goals. Counselors express their attentiveness and interest through their body language. They give feedback by sharing their observations, which enables peers to see themselves through the counselor’s eyes. Counselors summarize to highlight the main points that a peer has shared. Assessments are information-gathering tools that provide an overall picture of a peer’s situation. To be effective, all these tools are used with an attitude of nonjudgment.