About Peer Support Services

What is a Peer?

A peer is a person with lived experience of recovery from mental illness or addiction. By combining this experience with skills learned in formal training, peer specialists (e.g., certified peer specialist, peer support specialist, recovery coach) deliver services in behavioral health settings to support long-term recovery.

Peer specialists are open about their lived experience and can be most effective when a program is recovery-oriented.

Can I be a Peer Specialist?

  • Are you 18 or over?
  • Can you provide proof of high school graduation or a GED from an accredited organization?
  • Have you personally experienced challenges with mental health, substance use or both?
  • Are you willing to share your story to inspire others?

To find out if you might be ready, take the Missouri Peer Specialist Readiness Assessment (PDF).

Learn more about Peer Certification in Texas please at Via Hope

Learn more about Recovery Coach Certification from the Texas Certification Board of Addiction Professionals.

What does a Peer Specialist do?

Peer specialists support recovery, the process of change where people with a mental health disorder or substance use disorder improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential (SAMHSA, 2014).

Recovery is a non-linear process. It is not a defined set of tasks that are the same for everyone. It is highly individual and contains times of progress and times of relapse. There are many roads to recovery.

A peer specialist...

Is a person in recoveryIs not a professional with a license
Shares lived experienceDoes not give professional advice
Is a role modelIs not an expert or authority figure
Sees the person as a whole person in context of the persons role, family and communityDoes not see the person as a case or a diagnosis
Motivates through hope and inspirationDoes not motivate through fear of negative consequences
Supports many pathways to recoveryDoes not prescribe one pathway to recovery
Functions as an advocate for the person in recovery, both within and outside the programDoes not represent the perspective of the program
Teaches the person how to accomplish daily tasksDoes not do tasks for the person
Teaches how to acquire needed resources, including moneyDoes not give resources and money to the person
Helps person find basic necessitiesDoes not provide basic necessities
Uses language based upon common experienceDoes not use clinical language
Helps person find professional resourcesDoes not provide professional services
Shares local resourcesDoes not provides case management
Helps set personal goalsDoes not tell person how to live his or her life in recovery
Provides peer support servicesDoes not do whatever the program insists he or she do