Peer Recovery Specialists help a person become ready and willing to enter recovery by helping the person explore their options for recovery. Peer Recovery Specialists ask questions, offer insight, and help service recipients as they become whole, resourceful, and capable of choosing what is best for them.

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

The role of Peer Recovery Specialists can be viewed on a continuum of services and falls between the role of recovery support individuals and substance abuse or mental health counselors. The role of the Peer Recovery Specialist has emerged from the recognition of a need to reconnect substance abuse and mental health supports to the larger continuum of recovery management. The peer is not a sponsor or a therapist but rather a role model, mentor, advocate, and motivator.

The Certified Peer Recovery Specialist credential may lend itself to the workforce crisis facing the substance abuse and mental health field today. By the identification of these individuals who are in the recovery community, a pool of recovery experts will be created, some of whom may choose to go on to work in a treatment setting in various capacities. Peer Recovery Specialists may be individuals in recovery, members of recovery community organizations, those affected by substance abuse and mental health, those who work in the substance abuse or mental health field that do not meet the present educational and supervisory criteria for clinical based certifications, and others who possess knowledge and support of long-term recovery.

Formal post-secondary education is not a requirement for obtaining the peer recovery credential. However, emphasis will be placed instead on training, specifically in the domains of advocacy, ethical responsibility, mentoring and education, and recovery wellness support. Ongoing training will also be required for the maintenance of the peer recovery credential.

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