What are Peer Support Specialists?
Peer Support Specialists or Peer Support Coaches are individuals in recovery from mental health and/or substance use disorders. They use their experience to help others seeking wellness and recovery. Peer workers attend a training program to develop their skills in social-emotional support, advocacy, communication, and coaching.
Their work with others includes:
- 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: 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 leading peer-operated mental health organization in Colorado 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).
The tuition for summer training is $225. Our costs have increased and the fall tuition will be $300. ( The value of the training is over $900, but we are able to keep the tuition lower with grant funding.)
2019 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. In 2019 we will hold two more trainings in the Denver Metro area.
July 15 – August 2 The top criteria for admission to this summer training is applicants who are working as Peer Support Specialists or Coaches (and need the training) or applicants who have been promised a job after training. Our goal is to ensure well trained and competent Peer Specialists in the field. It is not our intention to train more applicants than the job market can support. If you meet this criteria, be sure that is included in your application. Applications for the summer training are due by June 1st.
October 21 – Nov 8 Applications are due by September 1st.
The role of a Peer Support Specialist is 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 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 and basic computer skills
- Desire to assist others in their recovery journey through Peer Support work
To learn more about and begin the application process, please visit our application page. We recommend you fill out your application thoroughly so that we can determine eligibility for the training. Applications are due by the dates listed above, but we recommend sending them in early. Due to recent subsidizing of training costs, our program usually fills up before that date.
To speak to someone at the Network about the program, contact our Recovery Education Manager, Joann Calabrese, at [email protected]
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.”
“As a person in recovery and someone who works in the field, this course allowed me to refocus both my path and my ability to offer empowered support to the peers I work with.”
“This has been so inspirational, as well as very enlightening for me. It has helped me grow as a peer mentor and as a person. It challenged me to dig deeper and really educate myself.”
“My approach to working with peers in recovery has changed. The trauma-informed approach training is more valuable than gold!”
Just a Few of our Proud Graduates!