Debriefing describes the facilitated and structured process of reflecting on and discussing a previous program session. Debriefing sessions may include discussions on any issues that may have arisen, aspects that went well, and areas of improvement. Providing regular and frequent opportunities for debriefing of volunteers about their experiences as a peer supporter has been found to be among the main factors that contribute to establishing and maintaining a safe and effective service for all parties involved. Debriefing is necessary in order for volunteers to be successful in their roles in helping others, and it assists to sustain volunteers’ motivation and commitment to the program.1

Although most staff responsible for running a peer support program struggle with making time to regularly debrief with their peer supporters investing this time can generally lead to saving time in later stages of the program. For example, managing mishandled boundary or confidentiality issues will be more time consuming than preventing these from happening by providing continuous feedback and support in the first place. Avoiding these commotions also helps to maintain the positive dynamics of a service.1

It has been suggested that if the program manager or facilitator does not have any time to spare to debrief their volunteers it may be best to revisit whether it is better to offer the services at another point of time in the future.1


The Freedom Centre in Perth, Western Australia, is an example of a program that utilises a formal method of supervision within the peer support program. The Freedom Centre administers monthly volunteer evaluation questionnaires as a means of debriefing and monitoring volunteer progress.2 This questionnaire explores areas such as defining volunteer roles, compliance with program guidelines, goal setting and client interactions.2


  1. Cowie, H & Wallace, P 2000, ‘Peer Support in Action’, Sage Publications, London.
  2. Freedom Centre. Volunteer Training 2007: Supporting the Health and Diversity of Young People’s Sexuality and Gender. 2007. Perth: Freedom Centre.