„Peer Counseling as the Key to Strengthening Self-Help among Disabled Persons”
A disabled people’s movement on the basis of emancipation has been in existence in Germany for around 30 years. Through the foundation of the national association “Interessenvertretung Selbstbestimmt Leben Behinderter in Deutschland – ISL e.V.“ in October 1990, a basis was created for the self-representation of disabled persons and their relatives. This national association feels an obligation towards the international “Independent Living Movement”.
A large number of “Centers for Self-Determined Living” (ZSL) have been set up since the middle of the 1980s. These Centers offer counseling and case assistance to disabled persons seeking advice within the meaning of “peer counseling”. This counseling takes the form of independent, integrated and empowering support within the context of disabled persons seeking advice in order to enable them to lead more self-determination on life with self-responsibility and dignity.
The experiences from the ZSLs have shown that there is a considerable need for advanced training among voluntary and full-time counselors. This training can only be developed on the basis of a qualified curriculum.
The objectives of the advanced training course must therefore be to impart knowledge of theories and methods relating to different counseling concepts and reinforce self-experiences.
1. Objectives of the advanced training course
The advanced training course will enable counselors to communicate knowledge of their own problem history as disabled persons, their own work up strategies and relationship patterns, and to pass on self-experiences.
Counseling and case assistance for disabled people within the meaning of “peer counseling” must therefore be geared in terms of content towards the needs of the person(s) seeking advice and not specifically to own ideas and/or unfulfilled wishes.
The internal modules of the advanced training course will be the history of the „Self-Determined Living Movement“, personal assistance and assistance at the workplace of the disabled person, counseling skills within the meaning of client-focused dialogue and other methodical approaches and specific counseling contexts.
2. Contents of the advanced training course
The advanced training course comprises the following six basic modules:
1. History and concept of „peer counselling“, the Self-Determined Living Movement and personal history
2. Self-experience – examination of one’s own disability or chronic illness
3. Counseling methods A: Communication and client-focused dialogue
4. Counseling methods B: Systemic counseling and conflict settlement strategies
5. Counseling methods C: Personal future planning
6. Personal assistance and assistance at the workplace of the disabled person – structures and networking
In addition to the training, 10 individual counseling sessions each lasting 45 minutes will be obligatory with members of the instructor team. Instructors and participants must not be in a dependent personal and/or employment relationship in this case.
Two self-organized group events will be staged to exchange experiences during the advanced training course (1 December 2004 to 30 November 2005). Participants in the training course must attend one of the joint meetings.
Another part of the advanced training course will be to prepare an assignment which will be published in the form of an Internet presentation (at least 6 to 10 A4 pages). Another suitable form of preparing a topic is possible. Members of the instructor team will help the participants to prepare the topic of their assignment. The instructors will provide a list of topics. A role playing session, in which the participant acts as a counselor, must also be prepared. This role playing will be presented “live” and evaluated in training modules 3 to 5. Video and/or audio recordings of counseling discussions may also be evaluated.
The following publications by the “Self-Determined Living Movement” respectively by bifos e.V. must be read during the advanced training course:
– Ewinkel, Carola & Hermes, Gisela: Geschlecht: behindert. Besonderes Merkmal: Frau. (1992) bifos e.V.
– Miles-Paul, Ottmar. (1992) Wir sind nicht mehr aufzuhalten. Beratung von Behinderten durch Behinderte. Vergleich zwischen den USA und der Bundesrepublik. AG SPAK München
– van Kan, Peter & Doose, Stefan (1999) Zukunftsweisend. Peer Counselling und Persönliche Zukunftsplanung.
– Hermes, Gisela & Faber, Brigitte (2001) Mit Stock, Tick und Prothese. Das Grundlagenbuch zur Beratung behinderter Frauen.
(Bezug über bifos e.V. Kölnische Str. 99,
3. Requirements for taking part in the training course
The advanced training course is aimed at disabled persons and/or persons with chronic illnesses.
The applicants should have looked at their disability or illness and have a certain degree of authenticity and openness.
Training in a basic occupation is not required.
However, the participants should ideally be interested in other disabled or chronically ill persons. They should also be interested in understanding these persons and helping them in their efforts to lead a self-determined life.
The applicants should be able to identify with their own biography as a disabled person.
Every applicant must be willing to prepare their assignment, take part in the role playing session and attend the 10 individual counseling sessions during the advanced training course.
The applicants must treat as confidential all personal information which they receive during the advanced training course. Infringement of the obligation to maintain confidentiality may lead to the expulsion of the person from the training course.
4. Acceptance procedure and training costs
A written application must be sent to:
fab. e.V. c./o. Frau Anita Griesser, Köllnische Str. 99, 34119 Kassel. Ms. Griesser will then forward the documents to the instructor conference.
The following documents must be enclosed with the application:
– An informal covering letter describing the motivation and aspired-to occupational and/or personal perspective relating to the advanced training course.
– A detailed curriculum vitae describing the disability and its practical restrictions on the life of the applicant.
After submitting their written application, applicants must attend a personal interview with an instructor.
Applicants will be accepted by the instructors conference based on the information in item 4. This acceptance will apply initially to the entire training course.
The advanced training course will be held in the barrier-free Hotel „INNdependence“/Mainz (Rhineland-Palatinate).
The cost per person for the entire course will be €900.00. Board and lodging are included in this price. Traveling expenses will not be reimbursed. The training course fee can be paid in 3 installments each amounting to €300.00 (before the start of the first, third and fifth advanced training course weekend). Booking costs cannot be reimbursed.
A sum of €25.00 will be charged directly with the corresponding instructor during the individual counseling sessions (45 minutes).
5. Conclusion of the advanced training course
After successfully passing the advanced training course, every participant will receive a certificate which will entitle him/her to use the additional title „Peer Counsellor ISL“.
A participant will be deemed to have passed the advanced training course if
– he/she was not absent for more than 10% of the hours during the advanced training course (14 out of a total of 144 hours);
– he/he attended 10 individual counseling sessions during the advanced training course;
– he/she submitted his/her assignment and took part in the role playing session.
The instructors conference will take a decision regarding the award of the certificate. Participants not entitled to a certificate will receive confirmation of participation in the advanced training course together with a list of what he/she did during the course.