Humanitarian Peer Support Specialist Training Program


From Mid-March to Mid-June 2018

Training Overview

During the last two years, the number of calls for help to CHP’s Hotline has grown by 36%, reflecting the increase in humanitarian emergencies worldwide. The range of distressful situations go from work related problems to emergency related ones, painful personal situations, burnout, acute traumatic reactions after a critical incident, cumulative daily micro-traumas, medical factors affecting an aid worker’s health, various addictive behaviors, to conflicts with colleagues…

Over the last 18 years, the CHP has adapted the Peer Support model for humanitarian staff working in emergencies such as war and natural disaster contexts. Peer Support is when two or more people with similar experiences get together in person or online, to share experiences and explore how to address issues and support each other.

Over the years the Peer Support model * has shown itself to be an excellent way to support distressed aid workers, either over the phone or video conferencing. The success of the model is also thanks to our staff, who are all former aid workers themselves, and the ongoing training they follow. Because of their firsthand experience of field life and the psychological training they receive, our Peer Specialists are grounded in authentic experience, not merely academic understanding. Finally this model is effective thanks to an extensive referral network of professionals across the world. Peer Specialists are trained to look for signs and symptoms in their clients, where a referral to a mental health professional would be advisable.

Aims and Objectives

The goal of this course is to train the participants to ultimately be able to evaluate and conduct online sessions with humanitarian aid workers. Some of the participants will choose at the end to stay and help the CHP on its Hotline, others will be able to use their new knowledge to participate in the creation of Peer Support Units in other NGOs.

Program outline

This program will last 3 months with 12 weekly modules, with the following topics:

  • Introduction to Peer Support applied to humanitarian aid workers – A personal and online group exploration of what are the helping processes in Psychological Support.
  • Resilience in emergency settings, and in humanitarian field life.
  • Self-care and how it can be applied to humanitarian field life
  • Communication and listening skills face to face and online.
  • Establishing healthy boundaries and maintaining confidentiality


  • Clinical issues: Addictive behaviors (sex, drugs, eating etc.) – Anxiety (panic attacks) – Depression – Loss, death and grieving – Trauma and PTSD – Suicidality – Stress & Burnout
  • Psychological Debriefing and Psychological First Aid in crisis management
  • Complexity issues: Gender – Race – Disabilities – Class/Economics
  • How to coach self-care and stress management (with various techniques: breathing and relaxation/meditation).
  • Helping aid workers build their personal wellness plan.

Alongside the 12 modules of theory and practice, participants will be asked to do in-depth, personal development work under the care of CHP’s mentoring team.

Successful completion of all course requirements, including a final exam, will result in a Certificate as a Humanitarian Peer Support Specialist.


A digital training class, with two counselors training and coaching, together with the present team as a practice hub. Training materials include videos, case analyses, exercises, articles, tests… Besides personal coaching, a forum will help boost learning through interactions between participants.

Number of effective weekly work hours: between 5 to 8.

Course fees

This course is designed for participants who will become part of our Hotline team on a voluntary basis for one year. Some spaces are open to other students interested in becoming certified as a Humanitarian Peer Specialist.

Fees: CHF 3,800 ($3’900 on 01.18.18)

Registration fees upon admission: CHF 200
The fees can be paid in two instalments: one upon successful enrollment to the course and the second 2 months into the training. (First CHF 1,900 and second 1,900).


For further information, including the requirements for admission to the course, please contact CHP at . Only 10 applicants will be selected.

Application deadline:   February 26, 2018

All nationalities are welcome, provided they are proficient in English (speaking and writing).

More details will be given after receiving applications.

* See our white paper on Building a Humanitarian Peer Support Program on the homepage


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