More than a Mirror: Mechanisms of experiential peer support for young people engaging in criminal behaviour

Margriet Lenkens

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal

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In this thesis, we explored the support needs of youth with risk behaviour, including criminal behaviour, and investigated a type of support that may meet these needs. This type of support is provided by experiential peers, or individuals who have similar experiences to their clients, in this case referring to experiences of criminal behaviour and/or involvement in the criminal justice system.
We found that shared experiences and mutual identification create several mechanisms in the relationship between experiential peers and their clients. First, experiential peers show empathy and do not judge their clients quickly. Second, clients see experiential peers as credible role models, who do not deny their backgrounds but rather use them as a reason to improve their lives and to do good. Experiential peers also provide hope because they have “succeeded” despite a troubled past. Third, a trusting bond may develop more easily or quickly between experiential peers and clients because of their shared identities, because experiential peers share more of their personal stories and because experiential peers find equality and reciprocity important. Fourth, experiential peers have a recovery perspective on desistance and understand that it is a complex and nonlinear process.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • van Lenthe, Frank, Supervisor
  • Engbersen, Godfried, Supervisor
  • Nagelhout, GE (Gera), Supervisor
Award date26 Apr 2022
Place of PublicationRotterdam
Print ISBNs978-90-74234-96-2
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2022


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