Guided peer support for PhD candidates

Courses for beginning PhD candidates

Course information

ECTS: 2.5 
Number of sessions: 6
Hours per session: 2-3
Course fee:

  • This workshop is exclusively for PhD candidates of the Graduate School. 
  • consult our enrolment policy for more information


Telephone: +31 (0)10 4082607 (Graduate School)

You can only enrol for one edition of this course.


Guided peer consultation for PhD candidates (also guided intervision) is a way to find solutions for issues and problems in everyday work with a group of fellow PhD candidates.

Key element is that PhDs support each other through exchanging strategies to tackle their PhD challenges. The professional coach guides in this process and offers the required input.

Aims and working method

As a starting point you will learn how to consult peer PhD’s, under supervision of a professional coach. You will learn how to integrate strategies to solve specific issues related to the PhD process, such as: stress, deadlines, overload, setbacks and doubts, work/life imbalance, perfectionism, impostor syndrome, feelings of loneliness, depression or anxiety. Also questions as how to express yourself in a meeting, how to manage supervisors (e.g. with conflicting interests or opinions, or lack of time and attention) can be discussed.

While this course may appear to cost precious time, experience shows that Guided Peer Support for PhD’s is well worth your investment. It greatly increases your speed, progress, wellbeing and 
satisfaction in your PhD.

Please note that the course is intended for candidates with at least 1 year PhD experience.

Learning objectives

By the end of the course you:

  • Have developed concrete strategies to transfer and integrate new solutions to your personal working situation; 
  • will be able to practice principles and skills of collegial consultation and autonomously solve issues in your daily life;
  • can reflect on your professional conduct, and
  • can ask structured questions and practice communication skills. 

Session descriptions

Kickoff meeting: 
What is peer consultation, who are your peers?

Group session 1-5:
Peer consultations in short and longer format, complemented with short, focused seminars as needed. Topics for the sessions are decided in mutual agreement based on the needs of all participants. 

You will chair one group session and present a current, personal case at one group session. You will be required to write brief reflection report after each meeting to share with the group and the coach.


After a 3 hour kick-off meeting you attend minimum 4 out of 5 group sessions spread over 6 months. All meetings are with 4 to 7 peers from the Graduate School who have similar questions, under professional guidance of a coach. All meetings are confidential and ensure a safe, non-judgmental environment to share questions, doubts, needs and mistakes. Topics for the sessions are decided in mutual agreement based on the needs of all participants. 

Enrollment is continuous: a group will start as soon as 4 participants have applied.

About the instructor

Dr. Claartje van Sijl is an independent, professional trainer and coach for academics. From her own ex-perience and her professional experience she is familiar with the special requirements of working flexibly, independently and intensely on (research)projects with a lot of responsibility and high pressure to per-form. She has been providing coaching and training for EGS3H since 2013. 

Work-life balance coaches

Doing a PhD can at times be stressful. Balancing research with teaching and a social life might at some point even raise difficult questions. How do I say ‘no’? How do I set the right priorities? What are the factors that makes me feel stressed? What gives me energy and how do I retain pleasure in my work?

In order to help you answer these questions, Erasmus University has assigned several work-life balance coaches. On your initiative and when it suits you best, you can contact one of these coaches and request an individual coaching session. The conversations will be during working hours and are strictly confidential. You do not have to inform your supervisor.

Dr. Claartje van Sijl is one of these coaches. Claartje obtained her doctorate in Philosophy and specialises in coaching academics. She can discuss challenging work-life balance situations that occur in your life as a PhD candidate and help you find solutions.

Search for work-life balance coaches in for more information.