An effective peer support program is a structured, formalized, and intentionally created team of peer support members that are  fully supported by management. This team, from the top down, must be united in their pursuit of building a supportive community and culture within the organization.

There are four key elements to building a strong, cohesive and effective peer support program.

Formalization and Policies

At the heart of a strong peer support program lies a set of formalized policies. These policies outline everything from how members are recruited and trained to the maintenance of confidentiality and boundaries. Having these policies documented ensures clarity and consistency in the program’s operation. 

Voluntary Participation

Participation in a peer support program should always be voluntary. While some programs may use nomination processes to identify potential members, it’s imperative that individuals have the autonomy to decide whether they want to take on this responsibility. This voluntary aspect fosters genuine commitment and enthusiasm among participants.

Training for Effective Support

While empathy and intuition go a long way, peer support requires formalized training to ensure the safe and responsible delivery of the program. While it doesn’t demand advanced degrees, training is vital to equip team members with the skills to provide effective support. These training sessions enable members to understand the nuances of peer support, including active listening, providing guidance, and maintaining professional boundaries.

Management Support

For a peer support program to thrive, it needs the active backing of organizational leadership. This support extends beyond mere acknowledgment; it involves providing resources, setting and upholding policies, allocating funding, and promoting the program’s importance within the organization’s culture.


For organizations looking to establish a peer support program, defining how the program operates will lay the foundation for its success. Afterall, a peer support program isn’t just about building the mechanism to support your members; it’s about doing so effectively and responsibly. It’s about creating a culture where support is ingrained within the organizational DNA. 

By being intentional with the program’s development, members will know that there are trusted peer supporters in place who understand what they are going through or who have walked a similar path. 

To learn more about Dr. Brooke Bartlett’s services visit:

To watch Dr. Brooke Bartlett’s webinar on Proactive Peer Support click here.

To learn more about PeerConnect or to book a demo click here.