The Washington State Peer Support Program has trained and qualified individuals as Certified Peer Counselors since 2005. The program provides training to mental health consumers who wish to become Certified Peer Counselors. "Consumer" means a person who has applied for, is eligible for, or who has received mental health services. This definition 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 (see WAC 388-865-0150).
Certified Peer Counselors work with their peers, mental health consumers and the parents of children with serious emotional disturbances, providing the service known as “peer support”. With peer support, Certified Peer Counselors draw upon their experiences to help their peers find hope and make progress towards recovery.
Because of their own experiences, Certified Peer Counselors are especially equipped to provide support, encouragement, and resources to consumers and families.
For Further Information Contact:
Bonnie Staples - Peer Support Program Administrator
Certified peer counselors help consumers and families identify goals that promote recovery and resiliency and help to identify services and activities to reach these goals. They also:
Help individuals and families take specific steps to achieve goals, such as building social support networks, managing internal and external stress, and navigating service delivery systems.
Share their own experiences in recovery to encourage consumers and families to regain hope and control over their own lives.
Promote personal responsibility for recovery and assist consumers and families in learning to advocate for themselves.
Model competency in ongoing coping skills.
Work with consumers in groups or individually. Many work for licensed community mental health agencies or their subcontractors.
To qualify, a consumer must submit an application to the Peer Support Program. Once approved, the applicant will be placed on the waiting list for training.
After completing the training, each applicant must pass the certification exam. The exam is typically offered three weeks after the training and contains both an oral and written portion. Applicants have one year from the date of training and three attempts to pass the exam, or they will be required to re-train.
Once an applicant successfully completes the training and passes the exam they become qualified as a Certified Peer Counselor. Those who work for licensed community mental health centers may be required by their employer to seek a counselor credential from the Washington State Department of Health, as a funding requirement for Medicaid-paid Peer Support.
Trainings sponsored by DBHR are typically offered 4-6 times per year. Some Regional Support Networks also offer training. Each training is 40 hours and uses a state-approved curriculum.
See links to training schedules and materials in the right column of this page.
The Peer Support Program is establishing a distribution list to relay job and training notices, as well as other related announcements, to interested parties. If you would like to join this distribution list, please email Wanda Johns at Wanda.Johns@dshs.wa.gov with “Peer Support Distribution List” in your subject line. Wanda maintains a number of different distribution lists so it is important that you let her know which one you'd like to join. You mau also email Wanda to request to be removed from the list.