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 recovery

Is not a professional with a license

Shares lived experience

Does not give professional advice

Is a role model

Is not an expert or authority figure

Sees the person as a whole person in context of the persons role, family and community

Does not see the person as a case or a diagnosis

Motivates through hope and inspiration

Does not motivate through fear of negative consequences

Supports many pathways to recovery

Does not prescribe one pathway to recovery

Functions as an advocate for the person in recovery, both within and outside the program

Does not represent the perspective of the program

Teaches the person how to accomplish daily tasks

Does not do tasks for the person

Teaches how to acquire needed resources, including money

Does not give resources and money to the person

Helps person find basic necessities

Does not provide basic necessities

Uses language based upon common experience

Does not use clinical language

Helps person find professional resources

Does not provide professional services

Shares local resources

Does not provides case management

Helps set personal goals

Does not tell person how to live his or her life in recovery

Provides peer support services

Does not do whatever the program insists he or she do