Peer Support Specialists promote recovery by using their own lived experience with mental health concerns to provide empowerment to the peers they work with. For individuals living with a mental illness, recovery is a personal experience that encompasses all aspects of one’s life. The recovery journey involves the development of hope, self-esteem, purpose, decision making and problem solving skills, connection with others, and a satisfying and meaningful life. Peer Support is recovery based, strengths focused, and peer driven. Because of their own personal recovery experiences, Peer Support Specialists are uniquely qualified to support the recovery of others. They instill hope and empowerment in those recovering from serious mental health or mental health/substance use co-occurring disorders.
Information about Training, Certification, Agency Readiness, Continuing Education, PATH(Project for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness), and current Peer Specialist Job Openings can be found on this page. Please scroll down and click on specified topics to view more information and subscribe to our email list to be updated about future training opportunities.
Providing Support and Advocacy
Peer Support Specialists work with peers to connect them to resources in the community. They coach their peers around how to independently identify needs and access resources. In addition, Peer Support Specialists advocate for their peers in treatment settings and within the community.
Role Modeling Recovery
Peer Support Specialists have a wealth of experience navigating their own recovery journeys. By sharing their stories and modeling healthy, effective decision-making in peer relationships, they can inspire others to do the same.
Facilitating Positive Change
The spirit of recovery and resilience is grounded in hope and optimism. As such, Peer Support Specialists work to motivate their peers through positive means, highlighting strengths and resources. They can facilitate change through goal setting, education, and skills building.
Peer Support Specialist Training teaches skills and content universal to peer support and provides an understanding of the resources and systems unique to Idaho. It involves facilitation by Certified Peer Support Specialists who are in recovery, group discussion, practicing peer support in pairs, and time for questions. TRAINING APPLICANTS MUST HAVE PERSONAL LIVED EXPERIENCE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS AND A RECOVERY PROCESS TO BE ELIGIBLE TO ATTEND. Please note a college degree and/or previous experience working in the behavioral health field are NOT requirements for attending the training and do not hold weight during the trainee selection process.
**Please refer to the Peer Specialist Training Readiness Guide before considering a certification in this field.
Jannus Inc. and the Office of Consumer & Family Affairs is no longer offering Peer Support Specialist Training. Listed below are entities recognized by the state as eligible to provide Peer Support Specialist Training in Idaho. For the most up to date information please contact them directly:
Please subscribe to Empower Idaho email list to be updated about future training opportunities.
You can also check the DHW website periodically to learn more about certification requirements. The Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) is the certifying body for Certified Peer Support Specialists (CPSS) and for Certified Family Support Partners (CFSPs). If you are considering attendance at a training in another state, you must email DHW at PeerSpecCert@dhw.idaho.gov or call at 208-639-5720 to ensure the training you are pursuing will allow you to become eligible for certification in Idaho.
Peer Support Specialist Certification takes place through the Department of Health & Welfare. Please understand the distinction between Peer Support Specialist Training and Peer Support Specialist Certification.
The Department of Health & Welfare (DHW) certifies individuals AFTER they have been trained. You must first complete Peer Support Specialist Training, then apply for Certification as a Peer Support Specialist through the DHW process. Please DO NOT submit an application for certification until you have completed Peer Support Specialist Training.
The application for Peer Support Specialist Certification can be found on the DHW website at this link, along with information about the certification process which takes place AFTER individuals have been trained.
Please direct all questions regarding certification to PeerSpecCert@dhw.idaho.gov or 208-639-5720.
Agency Readiness Training will assist your agency in effectively implementing recovery-oriented practices and sustaining your Peer Support Specialist Program. The training is designed to help prepare staff to integrate peer support into the existing continuum of care and build a sustainable recovery-based peer support program that addresses the needs of consumers.
The training includes:
- Self-assessment to determine your agency’s readiness to implement or enhance peer support services
- Steps your agency needs to take to effectively start or bolster peer support programming
- Principles and guidelines for supervising and supporting peer specialists
- How to incorporate a peer workforce
- Appropriate scope of work for peer support specialists
- Challenges and recommended actions for your peer support specialist program
- An overview of Idaho’s Peer Support Specialist Training and certification information
- Support and continuing education available to Idaho’s certified peer support specialists
- Idaho’s Peer Support Specialist Code of Ethics
We encourage you to take this self-assessment to learn about your agency’s approach to recovery-based services and incorporation of peer support. It’s important for agencies to have a person-centered approach to treatment in order to effectively integrate peer support services and make them successful.
We do not have 2017 Agency Readiness Trainings scheduled yet. Please email us if you would like to bring a training to your area and sign up for our distribution list to receive emails regarding training availability. Check out these agency readiness resources in the meantime!
Certified Peer Support Specialists(CPSSs) are required to have 10 hours of continuing education annually in order to renew their certification with at least 1 hour in ethics. CPSSs may participate in or attend webinars, classroom-based education or training, or workplace training to obtain continuing education hours. When applying for certification renewal, CPSSs will need to submit copies of their certificates of attendance or completion, and ensure that the certificates document the topic/title of the training, who provided the training, and how many hours they participated. Ensure that continuing education falls under suggested topics, keep track of certificates of completion, and submit certificates when applying for certification renewal.
Approved Continuing Education Topics
– Mental illness and substance use disorders and their effects on the brain
– Stages of recovery and the role peer support plays in it
– The state behavioral health system and the role peers play within it
– Advocacy for recovery programs and for the peers they serve
– Recovery values: authenticity, self-determination, diversity, & inclusion
– How to use your recovery story to help others
– Ethics (boundaries, confidentiality, HIPAA, etc.)
– Identifying risk factors in participants’ behaviors and how to respond to crisis
– The use of interpersonal and professional communication skills
– Effecting change
– Trauma informed care
– Work place dynamics and processes
– Empowering others
– Family and relationship dynamics
– The effects of trauma and use of a trauma informed approach
– Wellness and natural supports
– Maintaining one’s wellness
– Cultural sensitivity and diversity
– Recovery and recovery plans
– Local, state and national recovery and peer support resources
The following nationally recognized organizations offer regular webinars, workshops, and/or educational opportunities that are relevant to peer support. Be sure to request certificates of completion for every webinar you attend!
Copeland Center for Wellness & Recovery
You must become a Copeland Center member for $35 to access webinars
International Association of Peer Specialists (iNAPS)
You must become a member of iNAPS for $25 to receive certificates of completion
Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale (BRSS TACS)
After registering and viewing a webinar please email us and we will send you a short quiz for a certificate of completion.
Peer-to-Peer Conversations About Suicide, presented by Caroline White & Sean Donovan of the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community
Through peer-to-peer support we have the opportunity to hold conversations beyond, or without, diagnosis to explore how we all make sense of the world. This free webinar explores having conversations about suicide from a place of curiosity, respect and transparency rather than risk assessment and fear. Caroline & Sean will share ways to connect to each other in dark times through non-clinical, peer-to-peer relationships.
Hosted by Jannus Inc.
Register and view archived recording.
Motivational Interviewing for Peer Support Specialists – Part 1: Engagement & Focusing, presented by Kyle Davis, PhD
Motivational Interviewing Part I focuses on providing an overview of Motivational Interviewing (MI) and instruction in the first two fundamental processes of MI, Engagement and Focusing. This free presentation is designed to help you understand factors related to behavior change and develop skills to efficiently and effectively engage with peers and help them find areas of behavior change that will be most beneficial for them.
Hosted by Jannus Inc.
Email us for registration link.
Motivational Interviewing for Peer Support Specialists – Part 2: Evoking & Planning, presented by Kyle Davis, PhD
Motivational Interviewing Part II focuses on the final two fundamental processes of MI, Evoking and Planning. This free presentation is designed to help you identify differences in the way your peers discuss potential behavior change and learn skills to evoke “change talk” that will help your peers resolve ambivalence about changing their behaviors. Finally, we will discuss strategies to help you identify when a peer is ready to begin the journey towards behavior change and discuss strategies that will allow you to help your peers develop and follow through with their goals.
Hosted by Jannus Inc.
Email us for registration link.
PATH Peer Support Specialists outreach to places where persons experiencing homelessness live, in shelters, camping, on the streets or in cars, “couch-surfing” with family or friends, or anywhere they feel safe and can survive the elements. PATH offers support and restores hope by providing access to community resources, crisis intervention, and enrollment in mental health services. PATH also serves those imminently at risk of homelessness.
Additionally, PATH staff offer community education and orientation about mental health, information about the issues of homelessness, as well as advocating for the people they serve. The PATH Team offers advocacy, linkage, referral and short-term case management in the community. There are two PATH Specialists in each region across Idaho and two at each of the State Hospitals.
PATH is a federally funded grant created under the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Amendments Act of 1990 and is contracted by Jannus through the Department of Health & Welfare.
The PATH Project in Idaho is the first in the United States to employ exclusively Peer Support Specialists. Peer Support Specialists are nationally credentialed and extensively trained to promote recovery by using their own lived experience with mental health concerns to provide empowerment to the peers they work with. Over half of the PATH Peer Support Specialists have been homeless themselves sometime in their lives. They are uniquely qualified to share their recovery story and walk alongside with people as they self-determine the direction they want their life to take.
For additional information please contact:
PATH Statewide Program Coordinator
1607 W. Jefferson St
Boise, ID 83702
PATH services are provided at no cost to the individual. A person must be experiencing homelessness or be at risk of becoming homeless and have a mental health problem or a co-occurring disorder. PATH does not pay ongoing rent. PATH peer specialists are responsible for assisting all PATH participants in accessing local community agencies and supports that provide this type of assistance. In certain circumstances the PATH Project does have the ability to offer financial assistance to participants for first months rent or deposit if the participant can sustain the rent afterwards. PATH peer specialists provide outreach and supportive services to all individuals who are homeless or at imminent danger of becoming homeless may or may not be struggling with symptoms of substance abuse. The PATH Project holds America’s Veterans in high esteem, recognizing that those veterans who are homeless are a priority for outreach and assistance. PATH peer specialists encounter many barriers when assisting their participants with housing. These barriers can slow down the process in some cases where accessing housing is concerned, i.e., poor credit history, poor rental history, old utility bills, old debts for unpaid rent. PATH peer specialists have the capability to drive participants to coordinate services with various providers for example mental health appointments, SSI/SSDI appointments, Health and Welfare, and job searches.
State and Regional PATH Peer Specialists
Reg. 5 – Twin Falls, ID
Cecil Gailey – 208-401-8725
Reg. 6 – Pocatello, ID
Jeffre Miller – 208-241-5194