What is a PALS Peer Helper

Role of Peer Helper:

The primary role of the peer helper is that of a person who facilitates more informed, responsible, and constructive decision-making on the part of younger students. We use the term "peer helper" or "peer facilitator" rather than "peer counselor" because we have found that "counseling" is something of a loaded term for some people and conveys inaccurate perceptions about the nature and purpose of the program.

It is important to remind students that there are limitations to the peer helping role, which include:

They are not counselors, just peer helpers (friends with good skills). Help cannot be forced.

• Not all problems can be solved.

• There are some situations or problems peer helpers are not equipped to handle.

The PALS Peer Helping Program IS:

*an opportunity for students to interact with positive role models and to develop closeness and trusting interpersonal relationships

*a caring, sharing, listening experience for both giver and receiver

*a potential supplement to, or extension of regular school counseling services

*something which can address academic as well as other concerns

*a means for students to develop a greater sense of ownership and responsibility in their school community

*a tool for orienting and preparing students for what lies ahead in school, particularly in the transition between levels in school

• an alternative way of reaching students and utilizing untapped student resources

*a program in which the students themselves play an integral role

*an opportunity to foster improved self image and more responsible decision-making among participants

*a stimulant to help students recognize and solve their own problems

*a chance to have a positive impact on the overall school climate

The PALS Peer Helping Program IS NOT:

*a cure-all

*a source of advice or solutions

*a moralizing agent for pushing personal values on Students

*a substitute for parental, school, or other professional guidance

*a source of "inside information" for school personnel

*an attempt to provide therapy or "armchair psychology"

* exclusively for "problem students"

*something delivered primarily by adults

*an enterprise in which students are expected to "save" other students

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