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Focus Areas

Peer Workforce Development

Supporting the growth, advancement, and sustainability of the peer recovery support specialist workforce is a priority at PR CoE. Therefore, this core team engages in work around certification processes for peer recovery support specialists, equipping the workforce with the necessary skills to provide effective services, creating spaces for the workforce to connect, and workforce retention, among others.

Centering a focus area on workforce development is crucial for a variety of reasons. It creates the opportunity for peer recovery support specialists from across the country to develop skills and grow in a cohesive manner that few other organizations are able to support. Additionally, it provides resources for a growing workforce in order to ensure that peer services are implemented to fidelity. Lastly, focusing on workforce development offers legitimacy to the profession as peer recovery support specialists spread to work in diverse settings throughout the behavioral healthcare continuum.

Additional Information about Peer Workforce Development

“With roots in the consumer mental health movement, which worked to expand traditional mental health treatment, peer support has always been tied to a legacy of activism (Van Tosh, 2006). Formal peers validate distinctive emotional distress related to structural experiences of inequity and injustice (Beresford & Russo, 2015)”

Bakshi, S. (2021). Peer Support as a Tool for Community Care: “Nothing About Us, Without Us” . Columbia Social Work Review, 19(1), 20–43.

Peer Support as a Tool for Community Care: “Nothing About Us, Without Us”

This article examines the ways in which frontline communities benefit from expanded access to anti-carceral formal and informal peer support as a mental health safety net that interrupts harm and prioritizes agency, consent, and self-determination. This paper broadens social work’s conceptualization of peer support through theoretical frameworks of anti-carceral social work, abolition, and intersectionality. Social work and its adjacent fields are called to urgently center Black liberation, collective healing, and community care by advocating for the integration of formal and informal peer support into mental health policy and practice. This paper strategically leans into a lineage of critical peer thought scholarship by utilizing footnotes and citations to model the ethical acknowledgment of peer labor within human rights movements. This intentional structure promotes radical solidarity that resists the exploitation of people with lived experience. 

Products and Resources


Curriculum or Toolkit

Peer Support Toolkit (City of Philadelphia DBHIDS)

This toolkit from Philadelphia's Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, is designed to support behavioral health treatment agencies with the process of integrating peer providers into their service settings. The Peer Support Toolkit incorporates many of the promising practices and resources that have emerged during the last decade of Philadelphia’s recovery-focused system transformation effort. Tools in this kit are designed to help agencies to recruit, retain, and effectively deploy people in recovery in a variety of peer support roles. The resources and information provided is relevant for executive leadership along with supervisors and peer staff.



Hotline Peer Specialist Integration: Preliminary Considerations for Equity and Sustainability

Authors Kirill Staklo (he/him) and Nze Okoronta (they/them) provide an overview of the necessary information for the integration of Peer Specialists in hotline programming for equity and sustainability. Topics include intro to the peer role, medical trauma and minority stress, hotline work, informed consent and harm reduction, best practices in service establishment and training, and further resources.


Skill Development Series for Peer Recovery Support Specialists

The purpose of this training series is to provide recurring opportunities for peer recovery support specialists from across the country to build foundational skills that are necessary for effective peer support service provision. Each of the 6 topics are being offered again beginning in January in order to accommodate PRSS who are new to the field and those who would like to brush up on their basics. Additionally, these trainings may serve as an option for TA requesters looking to build their skills as PRSS. In complement to the Communities of Practice, these training sessions will be structured in such a way as to support concrete skill development including group discussion, presentation, facilitated activities, and more. Through this training series we aim to better equip the PRSS workforce with the skills necessary for the effective, professional, and intentional provision of peer support services. Intended Audience: This training series is for Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialists (PRSS). Participants may register for one or all six trainings in this series! Participants will receive certificates of participation for each training they have attended. Please remember to enter your name in registration the exact way you would like it to appear on your certificate.

Communities of Practice

The Peer Recovery Center of Excellence hosts monthly communities of practice, a type of affinity call, as spaces for peer recovery support specialists and those who supervise them to network, learn, share, practice, and grow together. The goal of these calls is to bring together a variety of diverse perspectives from across the country to share in mutual learning that is centered on topics relevant to the peer workforce. Peer Recovery Support Specialists (PRSS) and supervisors who attend and participate in these communities of practice will receive a certificate of attendance. Due to the varying ways in which peer recovery support specialist recertification works, it is the responsibility of individual peer recovery support specialists to ensure these communities of practice meet their state’s recertification requirements. Previous PRSS topics include:
  • Exploring and Understanding Foundational Principles and Values of Harm Reduction
  • Peer Work in Institutional Settings
  • Mandated Reporting
  • Speak Truth to Power: Intersectional Advocacy
  • Exploring Peer Run Respites as Effective Crisis Alternatives
  • Exploring Certification Processes and their Impact on Growing the Workforce
  • Growing as Professionals: Translating Prior Work Experience into Relevant Skills for Success
  • Navigating Ethics and Boundaries as Peer Professionals
  • Community Conversation: Supporting People Navigating Eating Challenges
  • Supporting Pregnant and Parenting People
  • Community Conversation: Harm Reduction
Previous Supervisors of PRSS topics include:
  • Writing and Implementing Policies and Procedures that Support People with Lived Experience
  • Transitioning from a Direct Service Role to a Supervisory Role
  • Peer Workers as Supervisors
  • Building Connecting Using the 5 Critical Functions of Supervision
  • Integrating Peer Support into Housing Services
  • Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act and its Impact on Supervising Peer Recovery Support Specialists
  • Language Challenges in Mental Health and Substance Use
  • Values-Driven Evaluation: How to Meaningfully Demonstrate the Unique Impact of Peer Recovery Services
  • Community Conversation: Supporting People Navigating Eating Challenges
  • Supervising Veterans Providing Peer Services
  • The Experience of Peers who are Supervised by Non-Peers

The Team

The University of Texas-Austin houses the Addiction Research Institute and focuses on substance use recovery and long-term health and wellness. It has been the home of the Region 6 South Southwest ATTC for 25 years. UT has collaborated with the Texas behavioral health agency on planning, design, implementation and evaluation of the state’s transformation to a ROSC for SUD services. This initiative included development of local ROSC collaborations, TA for RCOs and existing SUD treatment providers in implementation of the recovery model and integration of peer recovery support services.

Maureen Nichols

Team Lead, Workforce Development


Laurie Johnson-Wade

Steering Committee, Workforce Development

Peer Integration image tile, three hands grabbing each other's wrist.

Peer Service Integration

We are focused on supporting the integration of peer recovery support services (PRSS) into new and expanding settings.
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RCO Capacity Building

We are focused on building the capacity of Recovery Community Organizations (RCOs).
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Peer Workforce Development

We are focused on developing the peer and peer supervision fields.
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Evidence Based Practices

We are focused on bridging the gap between evidence-based practices and practice-based evidence.
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Health Equity

We are focused on incorporating a lens of diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging in the work of peers, organizations, communities, and of the Peer Recovery Center of Excellence.
Contact Us
© Copyright 2023 Peer Recovery CoE - All Rights Reserved

Funding for this initiative was made possible by grant no. 1H79TI083022 from SAMHSA. The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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