What are Peer Support Specialists?

Peer Support Specialists or Peer Support Coaches are everyday individuals in recovery from mental health and/or substance use disorders. To use their experience to help others early in recovery, they have gone through a special training program to grow their social-emotional support, advocacy, and teaching skills and have qualified for peer support employment through a certification exam.

During their work in mental health treatment facilities, peers offer:

  • Emotional support: encouragement, validation, empathy, and companionship
  • Social support: guidance in accessing resources, strategies for coping with life circumstances, and assistance in making post-discharge arrangements
  • Advocacy: support and backing in treatment planning with providers
  • Hope: serving as examples that recovery is possible
  • Mentoring: advice, tools, and strategies for reaching and maintaining recovery based on lived experience

Click here to view the National Practice Standards for Peer Support Specialists.

Training with the Colorado Mental Wellness Network

We are the only peer-operated mental health organization that offers this training! Who better to learn peer support than from real peers who are living what they teach? Our 80-hour curriculum is comprehensive, robust, and in-depth, developed with support from the International Association of Peer Supporters (iNAPS).

Our training exceeds the competency standards established by the Colorado Behavioral Health Council and the International Credentialing and Reciprocity Consortium. Topics of training include trauma-informed support, self-care, ethics, communication skills, and resilience. Graduates are also qualified to sit for the IC&RC Certification Exam through the Colorado Providers Association (COPA).

2017 Training Schedule

Training is three weeks long, requiring attendance from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Should a national holiday fall on a training day, the training may extend into a fourth week. Three training courses will be offered in 2017.

March 27 – April 14

June 26 – July 17

October 23 – November 10

Application Requirements

The role of a Peer Support Specialist is very demanding and requires personal emotional strength, a solid grounding in recovery, and excellent communication skills. Because of these requirements, we do not accept everyone that applies to our training program. Our goal is not to keep people from becoming peer supporters, but to ensure that each of our graduates has a strong chance at completing the training and finding employment.

The minimum requirements for our applicants are:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Established in recovery for a minimum of one year, but longer is preferred
  • Commitment to attend all training days
  • Internet access
  • Desire to assist others in their recovery journey

To learn more about and begin the application process, please visit our application page. Please be advised that applications are due no later than 3 weeks (21 days) prior to the start of training.

To speak to someone at the Network about the program, contact our Recovery Education Manager, Joann Calabrese, at joann@coloradomentalwellnessnetwork.org

Testimonials about Our Training

“The Peer Support Specialist Training conducted by the Colorado Mental Wellness Network changed my life! I have found passion and purpose again. Through the training, I was not only able to see how my lived experience could be of service to others I was able to assimilate my co-occurring disorders.”

“I was able to take the skills I learned in the training and put them to use immediately in my role as a peer support volunteer at an addiction treatment center. Re-framing mental illness into mental wellness, approaching each peer from strengths-based perspective, and learning more about a trauma informed care system changes how I work with a peer.”

“The facilitators gave me a realistic view of what working in the field looks like. They spoke of advocacy, self-care and working in systems where a peer support specialist is new. The resource materials put together for the training were impressive. I am confident I will walk into a paid position having incredible knowledge and the resources to be successful.”

“I am thankful I was able to take this training. What I learned during the 3 weeks will serve me well in my future.”

Just a Few of our Proud Graduates!

Peer Support Specialist training graduates at CMWN Peer Support Specialist training graduates at CMWN