To obtain a peer specialist certification, a person must meet certain requirements and complete a Peer Specialist Certification program. The main requirement for certification is that the peer specialist must publicly identify as someone who has personally experienced and recovered from mental illness, addiction or personal trauma, such as abuse.
Certification requirements and training programs vary by state. Common requirements include being at least 18 years of age and having a high school diploma or GED. Training programs range from five days to a few weeks in length and cover such topics as active listening, a focus on recovery, knowledge of mental illnesses and advocacy. Some states, such as New York, require supervised experience for higher levels of certification. Other states do not require any certification for people to work as peer specialists.