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Certified Peer Specialist project
job description

Certified Peer Specialists work from the perspective of their lived experience to help build environments conducive to recovery. They promote hope, personal responsibility, empowerment, education, and self-determination in the communities where they serve.  CPSs are trained to assist others in skill-building, problem-solving, setting up and maintaining self-help mutual support groups, and building self-directed recovery tools. A critical role of the CPS is supporting others in developing their recovery goals, and specific steps to reach those goals.


The technical job description of the Certified Peer Specialist below has been approved by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, and should be referred to throughout the employment process for all CPSs employed in state-funded positions.

Under immediate to general supervision, the Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) provides peer support services; serves as a consumer advocate; provides consumer information and peer support for consumers in a variety of settings.

The CPS performs a wide range of tasks to support consumers in living their own lives and directing their own recovery and wellness process. The CPS will model competency in recovery and wellness.

1. Using the 10-step goal setting process the CPS will:

a. Support consumers in articulating personal goals for recovery and wellness.
b. Support consumers in articulating the objectives necessary to reach his or her recovery and wellness goals.

2. The CPS will document the following on the Individual Recovery/Resiliency Plan (IR/RP) by:

a. Assisting consumers in identifying strengths.
b. Assisting consumers in identifying recovery and wellness goals.
c. Assisting consumers in setting objectives.
d. Assisting consumers in identifying barriers
e. Support consumer in determining recovery and wellness interventions based on consumers' life goals.
f. Recognizing and reporting progress consumers make toward meeting objectives.
g. Understanding and utilizing specific interventions necessary to support consumers in meeting their recovery and wellness goals.

3.Utilizing their specific training, the CPS will:

a. Lead as well as teach consumers how to facilitate Recovery Dialogues 
b. Support consumers in creating a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP).
c. Utilize and teach problem solving techniques with individuals and groups.
d. Teach consumers techniques for identifying and combating negative self-talk.
e. Teach consumers techniques for identifying and overcoming fears.
f. Support the vocational choices consumers make and support them in overcoming job-related anxiety.
g. Support consumers in building social skills in the community that will enhance job acquisition and tenure.
h. Support non-consumer staff in identifying program environments that are conducive to recovery; lend their unique insight into mental illness and what makes recovery possible.
i. Attend treatment team meetings to promote consumer's use of self-directed recovery tools.

4.Utilizing their unique recovery experience, the CPSs will:

a. Teach and role model the value of every individual's recovery experience.
b. Support the consumer in obtaining decent and affordable housing of his or her choice in the most integrated, independent, and least intrusive or restrictive environment.
c. Model effective coping techniques and self-help strategies.

5.The CPSs will maintain a working knowledge of current trends and developments in the mental health field by reading books, journals and other relevant material.

a.Continue to develop and share recovery-oriented material with other CPSs at the continuing education assemblies and on the CPS electronic bulletin board.
b.Attend continuing education sessions when offered by the CPS Project.
c.Attend relevant seminars, meetings, and in-service trainings whenever offered.


6.The CPSs will serve as a recovery agent by:

a. Providing and advocating for effective recovery based services.
b. Support consumers in obtaining services that suit that individual's recovery needs.  
c. Inform consumers about community and natural supports and how to utilize these in the recovery process.
d. Support consumers in developing empowerment skill through self-advocacy and the use of Human Experience Language to combat stigma.
e. Support consumers in setting up and sustaining Self-Help support groups.

The Peer Specialist Certification Training Competencies

A CPS should possess the following competencies:

1.An understanding of their job and the skills to do that job;

a. Understand the basic structure of the state Mental Health System and how it works
b. Understand the CPS job description and Code of Ethics within the state MHS
c. Understand the meaning and role of peer support
d. Understand the difference in treatment goals and recovery goals
e. Be able to create and facilitate a variety of group activities that support and strengthen recovery
f.  Be able to do the necessary documentation required by the state
g. Be able to support a consumer combat negative self-talk, overcome fears, and solve problems
h. Be able to support a consumer articulate, set and accomplish his/her goals
i.  Be able to teach other consumers to create their own Wellness Recovery Action Plan
j.  Be able to teach other consumers to advocate for the services that they want
k. Be able to support a consumer create a Person Centered Plan

2.An understanding of the recovery process and how to use their own recovery story to support others

a. Understand the five stages in the recovery process and what is helpful and not helpful at each stage
b. Understand the role of peer support at each stage of the recovery process
c. Understand the power of beliefs/values and how they support or work against recovery
d. Understand the basic philosophy and principles of psychosocial rehabilitation
e. Understand the basic definition and dynamics of recovery
f.  Be able to articulate what has been useful and what not useful in his/her own recovery
g. Be able to identify beliefs and values a consumer holds that works against his/her recovery
h. Be able to discern when and how much of their recovery story to share with whom

3.An understanding of and the ability to establish healing relationships

a. Understand the dynamics of power, conflict and integrity in the workplace
b. Understand the concept of 'seeking out common ground'
c. Understand the meaning and importance of cultural competency
d. Be able to ask open-ended questions that relate a person to his/her inner wisdom
e. Be able to personally deal with conflict and difficult interpersonal relations in the workplace
f.  Be able to demonstrate an ability to participate in 'healing communication'
g. Be able to interact sensitively and effectively with people of other cultures 

4.An understanding of the importance of and have the ability to take care of oneself

a. Understand the dynamics of stress and burnout
b. Understand the role and parts of the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP)
c. Be able to discuss his/her own tools for taking care of him/herself 


These guidelines are provided for quick reference for Certified Peer Specialists as part of their training and ongoing education. For billing codes and questions, please consult the most current “Provider Manual for Community Heatlh Provider for The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities,” which is published and regularly updated by DHBDD.

Assertive Community Treatment (opens in PDF)

Certified Peer Specialist (opens in PDF)

Community Support (opens in PDF)

Psychosocial Rehabilitation (opens in PDF)

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