BHA General FAQ

DBHR provides entry level training for Certified Peer Counselors, but training is not a guarantee of employment. You  must have the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed by employers for specific jobs. Positions also require lived experience, sometimes in specific areas such as Veterans, homelessness, or family experiences.  

Although opportunities for employment are increasing, they can be limited depending on your region. The DBHR Office of Consumer Partnership maintains a distribution list for information about available positions, but positions are more often advertised locally and on internet job search sites. Employment opportunities are expected to continue to increase.

Certification has three steps:

1.  Apply and be accepted as a possible training applicant;

2.  Successfully complete a 40-hour approved training; and

3.  Pass the state exam.

Upon passing the test, you will receive a letter confirming you have met these requirements. 

Many employers also require that you become licensed by the Department of Health as an Agency Affiliated Counselor after being hired. Your employer or the Department of Health can provide information about this process. This license is only required for those who provide Medicaid-billable services.

Peer counselors may work in various settings, such as community clinics, hospitals, and crisis teams. Peer counselors, under the supervision of a Mental Health Professional and as part of a healthcare team, may:

  • Assist an individual or family in identifying services and activities that promote recovery and lead to increased meaning and purpose.
  • Assist individuals and families in developing their own goals.
  • Share their own recovery stories that are relevant and helpful in overcoming the obstacles faced by individuals and families.
  • Promote personal responsibility for recovery.
  • Assist in a wide range of services to regain control and success in their own lives, such as developing supportive relationships, self-advocacy, stable housing, education, and employment.
  • Serve as an advocate.
  • Model skills in recovery and self-management.
  • Complete documentation about their services for Medicaid and employer requirements.

In Washington, peer counseling is an approved Medicaid service. In order to bill Medicaid, contracted agencies must have peer counselors who have met the state requirements, taken the approved class, and passed the state test.

Peer counseling duties can vary widely, but they are all based on the effectiveness of assistance and support from people with shared life experience who are living in recovery. Peer counselors use their own stories in helping others develop hope and improve their lives.  Adults, youth, parents or legal guardians can provide support to their families.

Peer support can be provided in many other settings as well, such as consumer-run organizations and housing programs. The Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) peer support program, however, is specifically designed to prepare individuals to work in a Medicaid-funded setting.