For those interested in getting started in the field of Peer Counseling:

Being a Peer Counselor/Specialist or Supporter can be very rewarding work.

This section hopes to shed some light on this profession and give you some resources to continue exploring your interest.


Misc. Info & Resources

Becoming Certified's a little starchy encouragement:

(but, celery has been saying shit behind your back all day long, so...)

Peer supporters across the country have endorsed 12 core ethical values for peer support practice. 

  1. Peer support is voluntary
  2. Peer supporters are hopeful
  3. Peer supports are open minded
  4. Peer supporters are empathetic
  5. Peer supports are respectful
  6. Peer supporters facilitate change
  7. Peer supporters are honest and direct
  8. Peer support is mutual and reciprocal
  9. Peer support is equally shared power
  10. Peer support is strengths-focused
  11. Peer support is transparent
  12. Peer support is person-driven


For those already in the Peer world:

Organizations for Peers

Support Groups for Peers

Continuing Education for Peers

Peer Job Searches

[These links lead to just a few resources in each category, just to get you started; It's not meant to replace your own research.  Have links you think should be added here?  Email us at:  DefectiveMagazine(at)]

[Please understand that these are samples of definitions, and there are slight variations based on the source.  The advice that I'd give is this:  Try to understand the basic principles and just know that the nuances of job description and employment are decided and handled by the agencies that are employing Peers. - TAIC]


The basic definition found online:

Peer Specialist is an individual with lived recovery experience who has been trained and certified to help their peers gain hope and move forward in their own recovery.


A Certified Peer Support Specialist also known as a Certified Peer Specialist is a person with significant life-altering experience. This is also referred to as lived experience. These specialists support individuals with struggles pertaining to mental health, psychological trauma or substance use. Because of their lived experience, such persons have expertise that professional training cannot replicate.[1] This is not to be confused with peer educators who may not consider recovery a suitable goal for everyone and may focus instead on the principles of harm reduction.

There are many tasks performed by peer support specialists that may include assisting their peers in articulating their goals for recovery, learning and practicing new skills, helping them monitor their progress, supporting them in their treatment, modeling effective coping techniques and self-help strategies based on the specialist's own recovery experience, and supporting them in advocating for themselves to obtain effective services.[2]

As of September 2012, 36 states of the US had established programs that train and certify individuals with lived experience who have initiated their recovery and are willing to support others in their recovery process.[3]


A Certified Peer Support Specialist also known as a Certified Peer Specialist is a person with significant life-altering experience. This is also referred to as lived experience. These specialists support individuals with struggles pertaining to mental health, psychological trauma or substance use.



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Organizations for Peers

The Peer world has a plethora of organizations, each with their own focus and purpose.  Beyond several national organizations, many local ones have sprung up in the last few years, and there's no way for us to keep up with them all without your help. Here's a couple of the well-known and active groups we know about.  These two listed here focus on the state of Washington:

United Peers of Washington (UPofWA)


Washington Recovery Alliance (WRA)



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Misc. Info & Resources

[This is info obtained by searching the web. I decided to put it here because it is generally applicable, but also to help show that there is a variety of info available, and that the info itself can differ in accuracy and applicability.  Areas marked with an asterisk designate information that tends to vary from location to location, both geographical and place of employment] The take away here is that you need to see what is accurate for your city/county/state, and further refined by the agency for which you work.  - TAIC]

The Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) course is a forty-three-hour* training followed by a written certification exam. Participants must successfully complete both to become certified. Once certified, a peer specialist must earn at least 20 CEUs every two years to maintain his or her certification*.

Certified Peer Specialist Salary. The average wage for a Certified Peer Specialist is $12.85 per hour*. Most people move on to other jobs if they have more than 10 years' experience in this career. Pay for this job does not change much by experience, with the most experienced earning only a bit more than the least*.

The Certified Recovery Peer Specialist (CRPS) designation is an entry-level credential for persons who use their professional preparation in combination with their lived experience to help others achieve and maintain recovery from substance use and/or mental health conditions.

Under supervision,,the Peer Specialist will function as a role model to peers; exhibiting competency in personal recovery and use of coping skills; serve as a consumer advocate, providing consumer information and peer support for clients in outpatient and ...

Experience, approach, presence, role modeling, collaboration, challenge, and compromise can be seen as the tangible enactments of peers' philosophy of work.

CONCLUSIONS: Candidates for positions as
peer support workers require more than experience with mental health and/or addiction problems.

Peer workers are community residents who share similar life experiences with the participants in the programs they design and deliver. "An effective Peer Worker is someone who is themselves."


[Here's an example of one agency's commitment to Peer Support Services.  We do not endorse and one agency over another.]

Peer Support Services at Valley Cities

Valley Cities proudly offers a range of support services provided by certified Peer Counselors. Peers are an integral part of the Care Team at Valley Cities, offering insight, empowerment, and engagement from life experience. Peer support is based on the philosophy that someone who has faced life circumstances similar to yours may be the person who can understand you the most. Peers are living, walking examples of Hope and that recovery is possible.

Peer Support Counselors have been trained, tested, and certified to inspire hope and provide unique support to people receiving mental health and chemical dependency services. Because of their unique experience with mental illness and mental health services, peer counselors provide expertise that professional training cannot replicate. Peers at Valley Cities offer:

  • Support through one-on-one meetings and phone calls.

  • Education about illness, medications, best treatment practices, and resources.

  • Help to build self-advocacy skills.

  • Help in navigating mental health, education, and other systems.

  • Help to develop natural supports and linkage to support groups.

  • Assistance in developing coping skills and the ability to regain control over their own lives.

  • Support in making choices and taking responsibility for their own wellness.

  • Help in identifying strengths, celebrating successes, and building hope.

One of the many functions of a peer is to help clients realize goals by identifying wellness tools and personal strengths – a vital part of the recovery process. Peers work closely with clinicians, therapists and care coordinators to help guide clients through their recovery process. Peers are advocates, cheerleaders, role models, parent partners, liaisons, wellness coaches, and supporters. Their roles are varied, and each Peer has a specialty or personal focus as part of the treatment team.

Peers at Valley Cities offer many services, and each peer has personal lived experience in the field in which they work. Peers participate regularly in clinical team meetings and offer valuable input and insight that only lived experience can offer. They are provided on-going clinical training and supervision.

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Support Groups for Peers

Every graduating class could be seen as a support group within itself.  Beyond that, many Peer organizations have groups that offer support and/or social events. 

One of the absolute best resources that we've found in the Seattle area is SASG (CLICK on the banner  below).  They have a few groups that cater specifically to Peers & CPCs, including Pause.Rewind.Play. (Thurs. 5-7pm) - which picks up where the Peers of King County "Peer Coffee Thursdays" (now defunct) left off...(see the flyer below).

Or...Utilize UpofWA's Facebook group to post your ideas and start your own!  We need more groups for support and social activities, started at different times and locations, so start one near you at a time that's convenient for you and meet the local Peers in your area!

[Want Defective Magazine at your next Peer coffee/gathering/event?  We're happy to come and bring our experience, information, and unique take on things.  Just send us an email at: DefectiveMagazine(at)]

One Example of the Peer-centric groups that SASG offers:

[but, don't click on the graphic below.  I *can* - but, nothing will happen.  And, you will have wasted a click.  You did you know that you're limited to only 358 per day, right?
That might be an exaggeration.  Or complete nonsense.
Now you're curious, aren't you?]

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Here's some Important Links:

Links brought to our attention by the kind folks at the National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse:


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Continuing Education for Peers

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[The information below was taken directly from the King County governmental site.  It should be accurate and up to date.  Here's the link, for you adventurous types:
Don't say I never gave you anything. - TAIC]


Current Medicaid funding rules in WA State limit training and certification to individuals in recovery from mental health challenges and parents and legal guardians of children living with mental health issues.

The peer counselor certification process is overseen by WA State’s Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery.  The process includes four steps. 

  1. Take the online prerequisite Certified Peer Counseling course.
  2. Complete and submit the state’s Certified Peer Counselor application with a copy of the prerequisite training course certificate.
  3. Once qualification has been established, attend a five-day training approved by the state.  Due to high demand, there is often a waiting list for these trainings.
  4. Pass the state’s Certified Peer Counselor training test.

For more information about qualifications, the certification process, and credentialing for employment visit the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery’s Peer Support website.

Similar information is also available at the Washington State Behavioral Health Learning Collaborative website.

And, the info continues...


Washington State's Peer Support Program has trained and qualified mental health consumers as Certified Peer Counselors since 2005. A "consumer" is someone who has applied for, is eligible for, or who has received mental health services. This also includes parents and legal guardians when they have a child under the age of 13, or a child 13 or older and they are involved in their treatment plan (WAC 388-865-0150).

Certified Peer Counselors work with their peers (adults and youth) and the parents of children receiving mental health services. They draw upon their experiences to help peers find hope and make progress toward recovery. Because of their own life experience, they are uniquely equipped to provide support, encouragement and resources to those with mental health challenges.

The peer support program is managed by the Office of Consumer Partnerships – OCP. The OCP is guided by adult, youth and family representatives with behavioral health concerns.



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A Few Handy Peer Job Searches:










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