What Is a Peer?

A Peer is an individual who has personal experience with the recovery process and aims to assist others facing similar challenges. By fostering shared understanding, respect, and mutual empowerment, a Peer Recovery Specialist helps individuals stay engaged in their recovery goals.

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Empowering Recovery Through Peer Support and Advocacy

A Peer is someone who has lived experience and has been successful in the recovery process who wants to help others experiencing a similar situation(s). Through shared understanding, respect, and mutual empowerment a Peer Recovery Specialist will support and help individuals become and stay engaged in goals throughout the recovery process and reduce the likelihood of relapse from substance use disorder, mental health, or co-occurring disorders.

A Peer assists a person as they become ready and willing to seek treatment (if needed) and enter recovery by assisting them to explore their options for recovery or treatment.  Peers advocate, offer insight, and help participants as they become resourceful and capable of choosing what is best for them in their recovery.

Peers use a strengths-based approach to help participants find and utilize their values, assets, and strengths while supporting them in achieving success.  They recognize that it is normal for recovering participants to have gaps in their skills or development.  The role of the specialist is to help participants recognize and fill these gaps with the skills needed.  Peer services focus on the present and future and are based on partnership with the participants.

What Does a Peer Do?

A Peer uses their lived experience, resource expertise, and empathy to mentor, educate, and support other people in their journey as they are participating in recovery services.  Peer workers are emerging as important members of recovery treatment teams.

There are three types of peers:

  • Peer Recovery Specialists
  • Peer Support Specialists
  • Peer Family Specialists
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Peer Recovery Specialists Focus on Substance Use Disorders

Peer Recovery Specialists receive education and training in four domains of advocacy, mentoring and education, recovery and wellness support, and ethical responsibility and apply these evidence-based practices to their services.

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Peer Support Specialists
Focus on Mental Health Support

A Peer support specialist practices core competencies and uses foundational principles identified by members of the mental health consumer and substance use disorder recovery communities that include recovery-oriented, person-centered, voluntary, relationship-focused, and trauma-informed.

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Peer Family Specialists
Focus on Families with Children

Family Peer Support Services (FPSS) are an array of formal and informal services and supports that focus on families raising a child up to age 21 that are experiencing social, emotional, developmental, and /or behavioral challenges in their home, school, placement, or community.

How Do I Become a Peer?

Working as a Peer is a rewarding opportunity to share skills, resources, and mentor using your own lived experience to contribute in a positive way to the lives of others and improve well-being. If you are interested in working as a peer, you can attend Peer training in your state.  Classes and training are offered in person and online to gain the knowledge and skills for certification requirements. A certification and /or credentialing exam is required and available online or in person for testing at several locations throughout Minnesota. Several organizations offer certification or credentialing, and more information is below on these organizations.

To become a Peer Recovery Specialist you may need a minimum of hours of training from an approved Recovery Community Organization (RCO), university, or college. Additionally you must live in state 51% of the time, complete an application form, sign a Peer ethical code of conduct agreement, pay examination fees, and take the Peer recovery examination to receive a certification certificate for your state.

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Peers Develop Core Competencies Through Training and Mentoring

There are many types of peers, certifications, credentials, and endorsements available to increase and build knowledge and skills.