Peer support group services

In partnership with Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), the SMSRC is offering a peer support program for those that have been affected by sexual misconduct and/or military sexual trauma (MST).

If you are interested in taking part in a group, send us an email at SMSRCPSP-CSRISPSP@forces.gc.ca.

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Who can join a group

To participate in an informal or formal peer support group, you must:

Informal groups

The Informal Peer Support Group service offers a place for individuals affected by sexual misconduct and/or MST to connect and explore healing among peers.

It offers up to eight 90-minute virtual group sessions on MS Teams in a drop-in style, confidential space. English or French groups are available.

Once you register for the Informal Peer Support Group, you can attend any of the eight drop-in sessions. You will be placed in a group based on your preference. Some groups may be organized by gender or other identity factors.

The informal group sessions will take place:

Led by trained peer supporters with lived experience of sexual misconduct and/or MST, each session fosters mutual support and understanding.

Safety and confidentiality are top priorities. We emphasize active participation and confidentiality throughout the informal peer support group sessions.

You will have continuous access to extra support through the SMSRC 24/7 line at 1-844-750-1648.

You will also be invited to evaluate this new service so that it helps us continue to improve the services offered for those affected by sexual misconduct and/or MST.

After each session, we will gather feedback through anonymous and voluntary online surveys and in a one-to-one discussion with a program staff member.

Formal groups

The Formal Peer Support Group service provides a space for healing and connection amongst peers affected by sexual misconduct and/or MST using prepared, educational material related to your experience and your healing journey.

The group offers 10 virtual sessions on MS Teams that are 90 minutes each. English and French groups are available. You will be placed in a group based on your preference. Some groups may be organized by gender or other identity factors.

The following formal peer support groups will take place:

A trained peer supporter with personal experience of sexual misconduct and/or MST leads each session, along with an SMSRC/VAC mental health professional who ensures a supportive environment for everyone. Together, they offer a platform for mutual support and understanding.

During the sessions, you will explore topics that include:

Safety and security are at the heart of the Formal Peer Support Group's design. It also emphasizes confidentiality and active peer engagement.

You have access to the SMSRC/VAC mental health professional during the sessions, and the SMSRC 24/7 line at 1-844-750-1648 is readily available for additional support between sessions.

You will also be invited to evaluate this service to help us improve our offerings by completing anonymous and voluntary online surveys and in one-on-one discussions with a program staff member.

About the mental health professionals

The mental health professionals on our team are social workers or social service workers who specialize in peer support, mental health, trauma, and helping people affected by military sexual misconduct, military sexual trauma, and mental health issues.

Their role is to help co-facilitate the sessions and make everyone in the group feels welcomed and included. They also provide support when it is needed.

Training for peer supporters

Peer supporters who co-lead groups go through the SMSRC peer supporter orientation training. This training teaches peer supporters how to best support peers who have experienced sexual misconduct and/or MST. The training covers different topics including peer support basics, how to handle crises, and ways to take care of themselves.

Specific needs of former or current CAF members, Cadets, Junior Canadian Rangers, or DND public service employees are included, from various sources, in the training given.

The orientation training material is created by subject matter experts and input from peers with lived experiences.

How to apply and the intake process

To participate or to learn more about the group peer support services, please send us an email at SMSRCPSP-CSRISPSP@forces.gc.ca.

Once we receive your email, we will set up an intake meeting with you. Our intake process supports safety and the comfort of all participants.

You can also contact the SMSRC 24/7 line to be referred to the Peer Support Program at 1-844-750-1648.

A Peer Support staff member will respond to you within one to two business days.

After contacting the Peer Support Program to express interest in participating, you can expect the following:

  1. A Peer Support Regional Coordinator (RC) will reply to your communication and send you an intake form in your language of choice.
  2. With their help, you can complete the form and return it to them.
  3. You will receive an acknowledgement of receipt email.
  4. An RC will then contact you to schedule an intake meeting for the Informal or Formal Peer Support Group in your language of choice.
  5. The Intake meeting with an RC will occur before the first session where they will explain in more detail the format and structure of the group and discuss your readiness to participate. Additionally, they will review the code of conduct, consent and confidentiality forms, and safety and emergency protocols.
  6. After the intake meeting, the Regional Coordinator will follow up to confirm your spot in the group and provide you with the dates/times of the upcoming group sessions.

Note: You must complete the intake process before you can participate in a group.

The Peer Support Program will regularly update and communicate with all interested peers who have submitted their intake form about the status of their intake process.

What's next?

Your feedback is important in shaping the support services we provide, and we will continue to seek your input to help our program meet diverse needs.

As we continue to collect and review feedback and evaluation forms, the program team will make the necessary modifications to improve the services we offer. We will provide new updates as they become available.

If you have any questions, you can reach out by email at SMSRCPSP-CSRISPSP@forces.gc.ca. You can also contact the SMSRC 24/7 line at 1-844-750-1648, and a counsellor will refer you to the program.

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