From Consumer to Consumer-Provider

Prof Doc Thesis

Wintrip, Sam 2012. From Consumer to Consumer-Provider. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsWintrip, Sam
TypeProf Doc Thesis

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.

KeywordsMental health service; Peer support worker; Stigmatized identities
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintOct 2012
Publication process dates
Deposited15 Apr 2013
Publisher's version
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