Dutch peer support education has changed dramatically over time since its inception. Five waves of development can be distinguished. Peer support education has evolved over time from empowered and independent peer support education to institutionalized peer support education.
1st Wave: Empowered and Independent
The first wave entails empowered and independent peer support education. A programme called GOAL was set up in 1996. This educational programme was based on the supported education principles (Unger, 1998). The primary focus of the educational programme was learning to learn. The first Dutch peer support educational programme was the TOED provided by IGPB. This was the first independent and empowered non-accredited educational programme for peer support workers.
After the TOED many more non-accredited educational programme were provided by independent peer run organization like GEO (IGPB and Anoiksis), Herstellen doe jezelf (in English: Recovery is done by you), Werken met eigen ervaring (in English: Using your own experience), BAED (Anoiksis) and many others. All the educational training programmes used an independent educational model. Lessons were predominantly taught by peer teaching staff.
2nd Wave: Upsurge of VET-programmes
The second wave development is the upsurge of accredited vocational educational training programmes (VET-programmes). The first VET-programme was offered by ROC Zadkine. This BGE (counsellor experiential psychiatric care) was a spin-off from the GOAL educational programme albeit without the aspect of learning to learn. The BGE was offered by a standard accredited vocational educational institute. The standard social work curriculum was marginally supplemented with parts of peer support work.
So in essence the BGE used a co-optational social work educational model. In the same vein many other social work vocational educational training programmes were set up by vocational educational training institutes. They were all based on a co-optational model and the education was delivered predominantly by non-peer teaching staff. The social work vocational educational training programmes were presented as peer support education but in actuality were merely a form of institutionalization of peer support work.
3rd Wave: Co-operation and Higher Education
Co-operation was set up between accredited social work vocational educational training programmes. The aim of the co-operation to align their curriculum and develop one basic curriculum for social work vocational educational training programmes. The curricula of the social work vocational educational training programmes were more or less aligned.
During this period accredited higher education initiatives for peer support education were set up. Social work tertiary professional educational had difficulties with their registration as a professional, the upsurge of interdisciplinary social work tertiary professional educational programmes and educational marketing.
Social work tertiary professional educational programmes were set up for peer support work on the basis of the co-optational educational model. These educational training programmes were taught predominantly by non-peer staff. Furthermore the standard social work curriculum was marginally supplemented with parts of peer support work. The social work tertiary professional educational programmes were presented as peer support education but in actuality were merely a form of institutionalization of peer support work.
4th Wave: Independence and Institutionalization
EducationaI initiatives were set up by social work tertiary professional education institutes, mental health care organizations and independent peer run organization. An educational training programme was set up by the foundation Zelfregie centre. This independent peer run organization set up an accredited vocational educational peer support training programme for experts by experience. This educational programme is an one year training programme.
An educational peer support training programme called LEON was set up by three mental health organization, i.e. Mediant, Dimence and Tactus and the social work department of the tertiary professional educational institute, Saxion. The one year educational training programme is not accredited.
The educational programme can be typified an example of instititutionalized peer support education because it is based on a co-optational educational model and developed by mental health institutes and the social work department of a tertiary professional educational institute. The programme promotes institutionalized peer support education and institutionalized recovery based care albeit endorsed by protoprofessionalized experts by experience.
The lessons are taught predominantly by non-peer staff. The programme promotes the acculturation by non-peer staff during the training period and before the future experts by experience actually enter into the workforce. The future experts by experience run the risk of entering into a professional moratorium. Hence the students have to make a forced and coerced choice before having the full information in regard to being a expert by experience in the mental health workforce.
5th Wave: Power Coalitions and Institutionalization
In the Netherlands an economic crisis has taken more hold on the Dutch economy. This led to more and more budget cuts by the Dutch goverment. The goverment enforced budget cuts in mental health care, social security and education amongst others. Moreover the unemployment rate rose dramatically.
The LDOO, National Think Tank for peer support education, was initially aimed at promotion and development of empowered and independent peer support education. During the 3rd and 4th wave of development the aims of the LDOO tacitly changed into the promotion and development of institutionalized peer support education. Factors that contributed to this tacit change were the involvement of Mental Health Netherlands, social work departments of tertiary professional educational programmes for peer support workers and social work vocational educational training programmes for experts by experience in the LDOO.
The Knowledge centre Phrenos and research institute Trimbos set up the project LIVE. One of the purposes of LIVE was to develop a competency framework for peer support workers. This resulted in the BCP-E. This was developed in co-operation with Mental Health Netherlands
The competency framework, BCP-E, is a product of an institutionalized peer support project as all parties involved in the development of the BCP-E are examples of institutions promoting institutionalized peer support.
On the basis of the BCP-E the basic curriculum for peer support was developed. This was developed by the same parties as the BCP-E albeit that it was endorsed by protoprofessionalized peer support workers. It was and is heavily criticized during its development and when it was presented in 2015 however all criticism was ignored by the developing parties. Both the BCP-E and the basic curriculum for peer support workers promote institutionalized peer support education and further institutionalized peer support work.
Social work tertiary professional educational had difficulties with their registration as a professional, the upsurge of interdisciplinary social work tertiary professional educational programmes and educational marketing. Within this growing educational free economy market determined by competition the social work departments of tertiary professional education developed minor programmes on peer support. These peer support minors are based on the co-optational educational model as they merely marginally supplemented the standard social work curriculum.
In a time of a Dutch economic crisis, budgets cuts and high unemployment rate more and more future peer support workers choose the accredited peer support social work training programmes at vocational educational training level and tertiary professional educational training level. The reason for such a choice lies in the economic urge of peer support workers and securing financial means of income in dire times.
The LDOO has proposed to compose three power coalitions on the basis of the type of education for peer support. This implied three power clusters, i.e. independent education, vocational educational training programmes, tertiary professional training programmes. The latter power cluster called HOED has developed a basic curriculum for peer support at tertiary professional education level.
The cluster for peer support education at vocational educational training level has not yet developed such a curriculum however the curriculum of the vocational education training institutes has become more aligned over time since the inception of the educational training programme provided by ROC Zadkine.
There is a high likelihood that due to socio-economic political pressures the three power coalitions have to voice one policy voice. This complete alignment in effect implies that the institutionalization of peer support education and peer support work can be finalized. Two of the three power coalitions, i.e. tertiary professional education and vocational education training, are likely to align first.
The third power coalition, i.e. independent education, is most likely to be the most important coalition in preventing the complete institutionalization of peer support education and loss of empowered independent peer support education.
Since the 1st wave, peer support education has evolved from independent empowered education to institutionalized peer support education based on a co-optational model, for the purpose of promoting the institutionalization of peer support work and of peer support education. This implies that the (future) peer support workers are highly likely to fall victim to acculturation when working with non-peer staff, and during education. Acculturation is a major threat to independent professionalization of peer support workers and there is high likelihood of protoprofessionalization of peer support workers (Alberta & Ploski, 2014). In effect the (future) peer support workers in the Netherlands could become clinician-friendly peer support workers who merely represent peer support work in name but not in practice.
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Alberta, A.J. & Ploski, R.R. (2014). Cooptation of peer support staff: quantitative evidence.
Rehabilitation Process and Outcome, 3, 25–29.
Unger, K.V., (1998). Handbook on supported education: providing Services for Students with Psychiatric Disabilities. Baltimore: Paul. H. Brookes Publishing Co.
BCP-E retrieved on April 1, 2015
Basic curriculum retrieved on April 1, 2015
Vocational educational training programme for peer support workers by Foundation Zelfregie centre retrieved on April 1, 2015
LEON: peer support educational programme retrieved on April 1, 2015
LIVE retrieved on April 1, 2015