What is a Peer Support Specialist
Peer Support Specialists are individuals who have a substance use disorder or mental health disorder and are actively in recovery. The neat thing about peer support is that in conjunction with psychotherapy the response to treatment has been positive. Research shows that when individuals actively receive treatment from a mental health or addiction counselor and a Certified Peer Support Specialist their likelihood for relapse in decreases and their quality of life improves.
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How do you become a certified Peer support specialist?
The peer support specialist I worked with went through many life experiences that qualified them for the job. I have more experience working with peer support specialist with a mental disorder however the certification process is the same.
If offered in your state, you can go to their site and apply to become certified. If approved, you will be given a list of dates and locations for training opportunities. The training consists of 80 hours of face to face training covering many different topics. You will gain recovery for life training, motivational interviewing skills, and WRAP training.
The training is stretched over a month with homework in between that centers around providing the best services to the community. The individuals I worked with had to identify resources within their community, such as AA meetings or where their peers could go for help with bill pay. It was extensive but worth it in the long run. The peer support then had to take this information and present it at the second face to face training.
After completing your face to face training and presenting your information, you need to pass a test. The test seeks to examine if you captured what you needed to be able to serve the community. For example, do you know the stages of change or can you identify skills needed to work with a particular person.
Within two weeks you will be notified if you have done everything needed to become a Certified Peer Support Specialist! With your notification you will receive your certificate and information regarding compliance, ethics and scope of activities as a Certified Peer Support Specialist.
What do Peer Support Do?
Certified Peer Support Specialist can provide an array of services such as motivation interviewing techniques, problem solving, assistance with decision making and linking you with community resources.
Certified Peer Support Specialist can also help you use the tools that you were given when in therapy. By having a CPSS involved in your mental health treatment, you will experience a decrease of stress, stigma and know that you have a strong support team!
CPSS can inform you- if necessary- of their recovery journey and what did (or did not) help. For some individuals going to a community group like Alcoholics Anonymous helps while others seek faith based support. These individuals know that and can relate on a level that creates comfort and likeness.
Why Peer Support Do What They Do?
Many of the CPSS I have had the pleasure to work with all believe in one thing…YOU! They all put an application in that really equates to saying “I’ve been there and made it with support. Now, I want you to make it with my support”. When I ask some of the CPSS what motivated them to join the field and become a CPSS, they responded:
“People need to know there is hope of recovery” – Margaret T.
“I wanted to help people like me”- Anonymous
“I have been through recovery and want to help others through recovery” -Riley L.
Many of the CPSS I have had the pleasure to work with all believe in one thing…YOU! They all put an application in that really equates to saying “I’ve been there and made it with support. Now, I want you to make it with my support”.
Why you need a Peer Support Specialist
All of the reasons above are why you need a CPSS involved in your treatment and apart of your support system. CPSS are medicaid approved providers (and we know Medicaid is strict) who provide a service tailored to your needs. The goal should always be holistic continuity of care aka support in all areas of your life consistently.
The next time you go to your therapist, seek mental health services or feel like you are alone and no one understands. Seek Peer Support. With a CPSS and Mental Health Counselor you will feel like your needs are being met!