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Title: From consumer to consumer-provider
Author: Wintrip, Sam
ISNI:       0000 0004 2733 6292
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2012
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Recent years have seen increasing recognition for new forms of offering ‘mental health service,’ both within the voluntary and statutory sectors. One example is the provision of support by those operating within formal ‘peer support worker’ roles. This ‘peer support’ is purportedly guided by principles of recovery, mutuality and recognition of the value of ‘experiential knowledge.’ In some settings, the employment context and the construction of peer support as an ‘intervention’ may have contributed to the ‘professionalisation’ of interactions between ‘peers.’ There is precedent in the peer support literature to suggest that this may pose challenges to peer supporters, called upon to maintain identities as ‘service users’ and ‘workers.’ This study adopted a narrative approach to examining issues of identity in a group of eight peer support workers, employed across three different settings. Each was interviewed individually according to an open format, and transcripts were analysed in order to develop ‘core narratives’ of being and becoming a peer support worker. These narratives took progressive forms, and were similar in structure and theme to stories of recovery, stressing ideas of ‘enlightenment,’ ‘restitution’ and transformation in meaning of painful experiences. Additionally, participants ambiguously constructed peer support as ‘normal human’ / ‘professional’ relationships. It was argued that peer supporters were engaged in constructing ‘desirable selves’ away from previous stigmatized identities, but also accounting for themselves as possessing ‘authority over subjectivity’ in line with their roles. The roles were said to lend sanction to stories about the self as recovered. It was suggested that ambiguity in role construction reflected ambiguous role definition in some contexts, in addition to a response to the ‘professional’ language of the interviewer. A key recommendation was that peer support projects should be supported to develop free of the imposition of mainstream models of helping.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral