What is a Peer Support Professional?

A Peer Support Professional (PSP) is someone with lived experience who is thriving in recovery. They provide support to those living in or exploring recovery through similar experiences using non-clinical, strengths-based support, have successfully completed formal PSP training, and are “experientially credentialed” by their own recovery journey.

The title Peer Support Professional includes any role that is based on personal lived experience of mental health, substance use, trauma, and/or co-occurring conditions.

Peer support encompasses a range of activities and interactions between people who share similar experiences of being diagnosed with mental health conditions, substance use conditions, or both.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

The Power of Peer Support

Peer support is the heartbeat of resilience and recovery. It embodies the profound notion that the best support often comes from those who have walked a similar path. Peer support empowers individuals to share their lived experiences, triumphs, and challenges, creating a safe space where vulnerability is celebrated.

PSPs demonstrate that recovery is not just an abstract concept, but an achievable reality. They inspire, guide, and stand alongside individuals on their journey toward wellness, offering unwavering support and understanding. The power of peer support lies in its ability to transform isolation into community, despair into hope, and adversity into resilience. It is a testament to the strength of human connection and a cornerstone of holistic behavioral health care.

The problem & Our Solution

Without regulation, many individuals in our workforce have already been working as a PSP or PS Supervisor without any formal training, or with limited or improper training, creating challenges both for them and the participants they serve. Common challenges within peer support systems include role drift and boundary crossing, which harm not only the peer support recipient, but also the PSP or PS Supervisor.

As the peer support model is increasingly recognized for its efficacy in addressing mental health and substance use conditions, there is an urgent need to professionalize, standardize, and elevate the peer support workforce in Colorado.

In the case of the peer support workforce, we find that when we are not driving the creation of standards, our work is commonly co-opted by traditional clinical providers, which dilutes the power and value of peer support. To successfully execute peer support models in diverse communities across the state, standardization is needed, and these standardization efforts need to be driven by those in the workforce who are already doing the work and doing it right.

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