Friends Helping Friends

UC Irvine’s Counseling Center peer educators are presenting their 11th annual Friends Helping Friends certificate program. The program aims to educate and provides students with the necessary tools and resources to help their friends and colleagues.

Starting week four through week nine, the peer educators will be hosting biweekly workshops every Tuesday and Wednesday in the Student Center’s Moss Cove A. Workshops will start at 7 p.m. and last for an hour to an hour and a half.

Unlike conventional seminars, Friends Helping Friends consists of interactive workshops where students will not only be provided with take-home packets of information and contact resources but encouraged to participate in various activities that pertain to the topic of discussion for that specific workshop.

Topics covered in the workshops will include, but are not limited to stress management, depression, communication skills, abusive relationships, intimate relationships, eating disorders, supporting a grieving friend and life transitions.

Participation in this program is open to all students at no charge. In the past, approximately 50 to 80 students attended the workshops; the number fluctuates depending on the topic of discussion.

Students who attend at least five or more workshops will receive a Friends Helping Friends certificate by the counseling service.

Peer Educator Shireen Noori, a fourth-year biological sciences and cognitive psychology double major, offered her insights on the program.

“Friends Helping Friends is a series of interactive workshops that deal with topics many college students are experiencing on a daily basis, either on a personal level or through their friends. These workshops are essential because not only do they provide great resources about each topic, but they also allow people to realize that they are not alone,” Noori said.

Aside from Friends Helping Friends, the program offers a variety of other services. In the past, the program has extended it services to the dorms, cultural clubs, and Greek organizations among others, discussing topics on mental help. Any student group can request consultation services and workshops/training sessions.

Alexandria Delgado, a peer educator program coordinator and fourth-year psychology and social behavior major with an education minor, discusses the intent of the program.

“As peer educators, we hope to reach UCI students and provide them with the tools necessary to grow as individuals and be well equipped to handle difficult situations,” Delgado.

Overall, the main focus of the program is primary prevention – seeking to give students the necessary tools to deal with issues before they become problematic.

The peer educators program is entirely student run. It currently consists of 16 peer educators and seven coordinators under the supervision of Adviser Dr. Ken Caillet who is a counseling psychologist at the UCI Counseling Center. The program is currently interviewing applicants for the following year.

For more information regarding the Friends Helping Friends program including specific dates and the topics that will be discussed, call (949) 824-6457 or visit http://www.counseling.uci.edu/pdf/FHFBrochure2010.pdf.