Definition: Peer- comes from Latin, which means at Par, when you are Par with someone it means you are peer to them. Peer Counseling is a process in which there is a one to one interaction between the members of a group with a common agenda, it may be work related, education related, something which is common. In academic its usually students helping fellow student via relating, helping and responding via exploring issues, concerns through thoughts and feelings. It’s an interaction between the Counselor and Counselee based on communication, understanding and empathy with hope of arriving on a clear solution to the issue and make informed decisions.
Why should one opt for peer counseling: When we are in school we have lots of aggravation in our lives like academic stress, peer pressure, tension to chose ones career, sometimes relationship problems, issues with one’s body image, abuse of substances and addiction and lot may time we as student hesitate to approach any professional counselor on account of reasons like unawareness of their availability, taint of asking or seeking help, in such instances peer counseling comes to one’s rescue. The issues might be various like,
Conflicts amongst friends.
Issues related to life in hostel
Accustoming with teachers and classmates
Stress related to examination
Stress related to certain subjects, chapters,
Low self-confidence and esteem.
Ragging happening in the school/college.
It is advisable to approach a peer counselor, as they have been in the same environment and can related to the problem and understand it very well. Since they are trained on all the aspect including listening, extend support and other means to resolve the issue. Peer Counselor are trained in many aspects like, listening, communication, ethics of peer counselling, maintaining secrecy, they are even trained to guide you to a professional counselor and also when to do that. The peer counselor is trained but many of them don’t possess certificates saying so. In the absence of counselors in school, peer counselor plays a vital role in understanding their behavioral and emotional issues and concerns and help them in providing solutions, and if need arises would guide them to professional counselors and many times become a bridge between you and the professional counselor.
What are the qualifies a peer counselor should possess:- As a student to be a peer counselor, one should have the qualities of being, empathic and sensitive to situation and peer, the most important aspect that one should possess is to be a ability to listen, listening is the most important aspect that one should possess including to be non-interfering, should maintain confidentiality without being gossiping about the issues shared, not to mentioned the basic quality of being good communicator with art of deep digging into the soul. The most important aspect being that one should be an inborn quality of helping others, this is one of the biggest aspects that will take long in fulfilling the quality of being a best counselor.
It is also important for the peer counselor to conduct various awareness movements and campaign on issues like mental issues, health issues, myth related to mental illness, discrimination etc.
Whom does it benefit: Well surely it benefits both the counselor as well as counselee, for the counselor the gain are : Help learn empathy, how to respect others and get respected in turn, problem solving skills, teaches leadership skills, enhances their own self-esteem, now a days foreign universities seek such experience those in NGO and other volunteer experience, this become handy to be presented on the resume, and for the counselee, he finds resolution and guidance to his issues and problems and enhance the confidence and assurance of someone being available to help him/her in the hour of need.
Thus, peer counselor are called to lead peer groups, may be for educational, supportive, or social counseling, the group benefits in more than one way like providing help, social growth and information, with a sense of belonging, these leaders keep the group running with respect to its aim and objective ensuring respectful environment, they assist by counseling to distress students and is the best way to have support system in school to ensure the students feel confident to have someone to approach in need of the issues or concern that they might have. Simultaneously the volunteer too gain skill such as active listening, attending and finding resolution to problems which can be applied at later stage of one’s life & situation, a good feel factor of “helping others”, including usage of this as reference for employers & graduate schools. At Empower Education, we instill these qualities in the students by various activities helping them to gain the confidence on such leadership skills beyond learning and scoring, this goes a long way in gaining the confidence that a student needs to have to be job ready in today’s market.