Peer Support Specialist

Have you overcome addiction or a mental disorder personally or been very close to someone who has? When you understand first-hand how important it is to have a good support system, it's natural to want to help others facing the same problems. The Peer Support Specialist course will provide you with the education and training you need to appropriately help others and use your experiences for positive outcomes.

Whether you've experienced recovery from addiction, mental illness, or co-occurring...

3 Months / 40 Course Hrs
Open Enrollment
Offered in partnership with your preferred school

George Mason University

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Course code: GES177

What you will learn

  • The central knowledge base and behaviors of effective Peer Support promoted by iNAOPS
  • The attributes, roles, duties and guidelines for a Peer Specialist
  • Recognize aspects of recovery unique to the individual, as well as developing their own recovery definition
  • The creating and exploring of community resources, courtroom etiquette, help peers identify and understand communication barriers, and the reasoning behind documenting practices
  • How transformational language helps a peer specialist in the transformation in services for people with mental health problems
  • Various communication techniques commonly used in a peer support setting
  • The history of mental illness with attention to how and why the recovery model has emerged
  • Tools that will help you develop appropriate and effective ways of approaching peers and/or veterans with a substance disorder and/or co-occurring disorder
  • Cultural differences you are likely to encounter as a peer specialist
  • The critical nature of how ethics and boundaries play an integral role in the daily job of a peer specialist
  • The basics necessary to assist with peer reintegration into the community
  • A comprehensive concept of wellness that goes beyond being free of disease or sickness

How you will benefit

  • Prepare for a career as a Recovery Peer Specialist or Recovery Peer Support
  • Give back to the community by using your personal experience to positively affect the lives of others
  • Receive training that will help you properly educate other adults and improve their odds of beating addiction
  • Open the door to new career opportunities in an in-demand field

How the course is taught

  • Self-paced, online course
  • 3 Months to complete
  • Open enrollment, begin anytime
  • 40 course hours
  1. Peer Specialist Overview
    1. Learn definitions and tasks performed by peer specialists
    2. Learn the value of inspiring hope and contributing to the development of a recovery culture
    3. Be introduced to appropriate roles in the workplace
    4. Understand how their own values are formed and how understanding themselves effects the way in which they understand others
    5. Be introduced to concepts such as conflict resolution, cultural competency and tolerance
    6. Understand the importance of self-care and design a self-care plan
  2. Recovery and Resiliency
    1. Recognize that recovery is unique to the individual
    2. Develop their own personal recovery definition
    3. Understand recovery principles so that they can be applied to those they serve
    4. Define and identify strengths based treatment, attitudes and communication
    5. Be able to identify their own strengths and values and learn how to identify the strengths and values of others
    6. Understand the concept of Resiliency as used in prevention and recovery.
  3. Legal Issues and HIPAA Overview
    1. Learn the ability to identify barriers to recovery, and use a strengths-based approach in all aspects of communication with peers and staff
    2. Learn how to use a peer's person-centered plan as a basis to create a plan of action
    3. Learn to create accurate, peer-contact documentation with appropriate details
    4. Understand the importance of administrative requirements and the timeliness of events
  4. Stigma Issues
    1. Learn the ability to identify labels and stereotypes
    2. Learn the meaning of stigma
    3. Learn how stigma can affect them and others
    4. Understand the importance of "person-first" language
    5. Learn the ways they can fight stigma as a PS
  5. Interpersonal Communication
    1. Learn the role of effective verbal and non-verbal communication
    2. Explore various communication styles and examine their own skills
    3. Learn how to perform reflective listening
    4. Be introduced to motivational interviewing
    5. Learn how values can affect communication
    6. Identify roadblocks to effective communication
  6. Mental Health Disorders
    1. Understand how societal values have affected how mental illness is perceived and treated
    2. Understand how and why the recovery model has developed
    3. Recognize the symptoms of clinical depression
    4. Explore coping and recovery strategies for depression
    5. Understand the basic components of the DSM-V and how and why it is used by mental health professionals
    6. Develop skills to deal with peers exhibiting difficult behavior or presenting a crisis
    7. Learn to ensure the safety of peers while building trust and identifying barriers to recovery
  7. Substance Abuse Disorders
    1. Understand the difference between substance use, abuse, dependence and addiction
    2. Recognize the "disease concept" of addiction and it's key elements
    3. Describe the concept of co-occurring disorders
    4. List five similarities that substance and psychiatric disorders have in common
    5. List six major guiding principles in treating people who have co-occurring disorders
    6. Identify relapse prevention plans suitable for peers and/or veterans with co-occurring disorders
  8. Cultural Competence
    1. Gain understanding of what cultures are
    2. Learn why it is important to recognize cultural differences and preferences
    3. Understand stereotyping, stigma and personal values related to culture
    4. Explore the concept of holistic recovery which may include clinical practices, medicine and personal spirituality as valued components that support people in healthy recovery
  9. Ethics: Peer Specialist
    1. Put into practice appropriate self-disclosure
    2. Understand the personal dynamics of conflict
    3. Develop methods for resolving conflicts
    4. Understand why ethical and boundary issues are important for peer specialists
    5. Realize the importance of confidentiality and how it applies to peer specialists
    6. Explore situations that may cause ethical and boundary issues to arise
  10. Adult Education
    1. Learn the difference between leading a group and facilitating a group
    2. Learn how to facilitate a group
    3. Become familiar with the types and purposes of groups
    4. Review adult learning principles
    5. Gain insight into how adults are motivated to learn
  11. Community Reintegration
    1. Gain a basic understanding of the six steps of WRAP
    2. Learn how they can help a peer deal with life's challenges
    3. Understand the role person-centered planning plays in recovery
    4. Appreciate the importance of psychiatric advance directives
    5. Gain an understanding of the federal laws that promote self-determination
    6. Have the information they need to be able to advocate on the behalf of peers
  12. Wellness
    1. Define wellness
    2. Identify the essentials of good health
    3. Communicate the body's need for water as a simple essential of wellness
    4. Implement simple steps to improve mood
    5. Explain the purpose of sleep and its role in reducing daily stress
    6. Identify personal habits through self-assessment
    7. List stress management tips to reduce tension
    8. Identify the effects of smoking
    9. Explain the importance of getting organized and setting goals
    10. Identify their personality profile and how it can affect financial decision making

Jean LaCour

Jean LaCour, Ph.D., is a Certified Prevention Professional, author, and a trainer with extensive experience in the addiction recovery field. She is the co-founder of the NET Training Institute Center for Addiction and Recovery Education, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit corporation offering online training in addiction counseling, peer specialist support, and recovery support services.


Basic computer skills are required.

Certification Requirements:

Certification for peers is done at the state level, with every state having different requirements for certification of peers. For this reason, we encourage you to contact the appropriate agency within your state that oversees and provides credentials to individuals that want to work as a peer within that state for more certification information, as we cannot guarantee that our program will fulfill your state’s requirements. To our knowledge, the Texas Certification Board, the California Certification Board, State Board of Georgia, Minnesota Certification Board, Tennessee State Board, and Washington State Board do not recognize this course.


Hardware Requirements:

  • This course can be taken on either a PC, Chromebook, or Mac.

Software Requirements:

  • PC: Windows 8 or later.
  • Mac: macOS 10.6 or later.
  • Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are preferred. Microsoft Edge and Safari are also compatible.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.


  • Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.

Instructional Material Requirements:

The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.

Yes. This 40-hour course includes content and standards promoted by the International Association of Peer Supporters (INAOPS), which is aligned with and reflects industry best practices and state and national competencies. It was created in partnership with Steve Harrington, founder of the National Association of Peer Supporters (N.A.P.S) organization.

Certification Requirements: Certification for peers is done at the state level by state certification boards, with every state having different requirements for recovery peer specialists or peer supporters. For this reason, we encourage you to contact the appropriate agency in your state that oversees and provides credentials to individuals that want to work as a peer within that state for more certification information, as we cannot guarantee that our program will fulfill your state’s requirements. To our knowledge, the Texas Certification Board, State Board of Georgia, Minnesota Certification Board, Tennessee State Board, and Washington State Board do not recognize this course.

Yes, ed2go courses are completely online. However, keep in mind that not all certifying bodies or industry-specific certifications are recognized internationally. Please review your country's regulations prior to enrolling in courses that prepare for certification.

This course is open enrollment, so you can register and start the course as soon as you are ready. Access to your course can take 24-48 business hours.

This course is self-paced and open enrollment, so you can start when you want and finish at your own pace. When you register, you'll receive three (3) months to complete the course.

The time allotted for course completion has been calculated based on the number of course hours. However, if you are unable to complete the course, contact the student advising team to see what options you may have available to work out a suitable completion date. Please note that an extension fee may be charged.

The course instructor will be available by email to answer any questions and provide feedback on your performance. Occasionally, your course may be supported by a team of industry experts. You will also receive support from the student advising team.

Upon successful completion of the course, you will be awarded a Certificate of Completion.

This course will provide you with the skills you need to obtain an entry-level position in most cases. Potential students should always do research on the job market in their area before registering.

This course is non-credit, so it does not qualify for federal aid, FAFSA and Pell Grant. In some states, vocational rehab or workforce development boards will pay for qualified students to take our courses. Additionally, some students may qualify for financial assistance when they enroll, if they meet certain requirements. Financing is available from select schools. Learn more about financial assistance.

If you have questions that are not answered on our website, representatives are available via LIVE chat. You can also call us at 1-877-221-5151 during regular business hours to have your questions promptly answered. If you are visiting us during non-business hours, please send us a question using the "Contact Us" form.