What is peer counseling?
Peer counseling is a practice that emphasizes informal, non-judgmental peer support. In our sessions, we aim to create a supportive space for you to guide the conversation and process whatever feels important to you.
During a session, we invite you to share anything that’s on your mind. You can share your joys, your worries, your pain, your confusion. Our counselors are prepared to hold conversations with you on loneliness, race and racism, family, sex, grief, love, sexual orientation, body, gender identity, trauma, fear, food, suicidal thoughts, anger, work, money, health, relationships, dating, connection… the list goes on.
Some guiding principles of peer counseling are:
- We believe that you are the expert of your own experiences, so we do not judge what you bring to us or provide advice.
- Our goal is to create a safer space for you to process your emotions, knowing that often we are conditioned to hide our emotions in our daily lives.
- We center your self-determination in talking about what feels most present and important to you in a session.
Our sessions differ from traditional counseling in the following ways:
|In traditional counseling...||In peer counseling...|
|the counselor is viewed as an expert of the counselee’s experiences||the counselee is viewed as an expert of their own experiences|
|the counselor leads the conversation||the counselee decides for themselves how and what they want to talk about|
|the counselor tells the counselee what to do which includes prescribing solutions||the counselee is invited to process their thoughts and feelings, which may or may not lead to solutions|
|the counselor provides a diagnosis||the counselor offers resources if relevant|
The “peer” in peer counseling
A peer comes into the space as someone who wants to support you as a co-member in your community. A peer counselor differs from a therapist in that we do not hold institutional credentials nor affiliations as the foundation of our expertise. Instead, we understand our ability to peer counsel as a practice that grows from our commitment to community and collective liberation. By saying that we are “peers,” we mean to push back against the hierarchy that is present in traditional therapy where the therapist is positioned as an “expert.”