Peer Counseling

group of people talking and laughing

Support Through Student Connection

From school and finances to relationships and what the future holds (and plenty more in between), there's a lot on your plate. Talking about it helps. 

Peer counseling brings UArizona students together. CAPS peer counselors are U of A students who are hand-picked and trained to talk with you about whatever's going on. When you talk with a peer counselor, you get support, refresh your coping skills, and figure out your next steps.

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General FAQ's

Peer Counseling is a peer-to-peer program at the University of Arizona that offers Psychological First Aid (PFA) to students in a confidential and safe environment, as part of a group or a one-on-one session. This is not psychological treatment but rather a supportive intervention to help students connect and share tools to cope with stress. Peer Counseling was developed at UArizona in consultation with Dr. George Everly, faculty at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Public Health.

Psychological First Aid (PFA) is an evidence-informed support designed to strengthen one’s healthy coping practices, mitigate distress and facilitate access to continued care, if needed. 

No. Psychological first aid is just that – first aid. It is not considered a psychological treatment. Consider the physical health intervention model – as helpful community members we learn physical first aid to help respond, support and facilitate care, as needed, to another community member who may be physically hurt. It is not a regulated practice but rather a set of skills that one learns to best assist another member of the community. Similarly, psychological first aid offers skills to best support other community members during times of stress and facilitates referrals to additional levels of care, if needed. 

If you need support from a licensed mental health provider, get started with CAPS.

Each peer-led group session will be co-led by two peer counselors and offer service to a maximum of 10 students.

Peer counseling offers both individual and group sessions Sunday-Friday.  Here's how to get started: 

Peer counseling and peer-led groups are meant to provide a safe space for you to share and gain support. Personal disclosures are considered to be confidential although peer counselors will seek guidance from professional health and wellness staff on how best to support students who may be in danger of self-harm or harm to others to access appropriate levels of care beyond psychological first aid.

Peer counseling offers a number of antidotes to help promote resilience and help you deal with the stress in your life. First, it’s a space to connect. Social connection is the most powerful antidote for resilience. We are in this together and peer counseling gives you the opportunity to connect with peers dealing with similar stressors. Second, our peer counselors are trained to offer specific ideas of support and ways to cope with stress that have been shown to help reduce the impact of stress and facilitate resilience.

You may participate in peer-led group meetings weekly – there is not a cap of the number of weeks you may attend. You also have access to individual sessions with peer counselors. These one-on-one PFA consultations are limited to three sessions. If you need additional individual support, the peer counselor can assist in making referrals to additional mental health and wellness services.

Peer Counselor FAQ's

Peer counselors were selected after submitting applications of interest and participating in group and individual interviews. Peer counselors demonstrated an interest in serving our community, and illustrated active listening skills, coachability, a commitment to self-care, and cultural awareness and competency.

Peer counselors earned certificates in Psychological First Aid by completing a fully asynchronous, professional online learning course led by Dr. George Everly, author of the Johns Hopkins Guide to Psychological First Aid and international expert in crisis intervention. Additionally, peer counselors completed a synchronous, 5-hour training provided by Counseling and Psych Services (CAPS) professional staff and advanced doctoral students in Clinical Psychology.

Peer counselors are provided mentoring and support by upper-level graduate students from the UArizona Department of Psychology, in addition to the oversight provided by Counseling and Psych Services staff.