What are Peer Support Professionals?

Peer Support Professionals are individuals in recovery from mental health, substance use, trauma and/or co-occurring conditions. They use their lived experience to help others seeking wellness and recovery. Peer workers must attend a training program to develop their skills in social-emotional support, advocacy, communication, and coaching. If you would like to learn more about the amazing history of the peer support movement, check out our blog page here. To view the National Practice Standards for Peer Support Professionals, click here. 

Their work with others includes

Emotional support

Encouragement, validation, empathy, and companionship 

Social support

Guidance in accessing resources, strategies for coping with life circumstances, and assistance in making post-discharge arrangements


Support and backing in treatment planning with providers


Serving as examples that recovery is possible


 Tools and strategies for reaching and maintaining recovery based on lived experience

"One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone."

- Shannon L. Alder

Peer Support Professional Requirements

Individuals seeking this training MUST have personal lived experience of mental health, substance use, trauma, and/or co-occurring conditions. Most employers in Colorado require Peer Support Professionals to have training in a set of core competencies, which were established by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Colorado Behavioral Health Council and the International Credentialing and Reciprocity Consortium. Our training exceeds the standards set by these organizations.

Training topics include

Trauma-informed Support
Communication Skills
Strength Based Perspective

"When we establish human connections within the context of shared experience we create community wherever we go."

- Gina Greenlee

Peer Support Professional Training

Training with CMWN

We are the leading peer-operated mental health organization in Colorado that offers this training! We believe there is no better way to learn peer support than from real peers who live what they teach. Our 72-hour curriculum is comprehensive, robust, and in-depth, originally developed with support from the National Association of Peer Supporters (N.A.P.S.)

Topics of training include trauma-informed support, self-care, ethics, communication skills, and resilience. Graduates are also qualified to sit for the IC&RC Certification Exam through the Colorado Providers Association (COPA).

In the state of Colorado, it is not a requirement to obtain the Peer and Family Specialist Credential before working as a Peer Support Professional. In fact, many employers do not require the credential. Those that do will usually ask you to get it after you have been working for a certain period.

Why Train with the Colorado Mental Wellness Network? 

At CMWN, we are focused on recovery and wellness (not just treatment) for individuals with mental health and substance use challenges. As fellow peers, we have lived experience with recovery and understand the vital role that peers play in assisting others. 

Our instructors are experienced in training and facilitation, and we are heavily focused on practical skill-based learning. Our graduates are employed in behavioral health care settings across the state, including at Community Reach Center, Summit Stone Health Partners, Denver Rescue Mission, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, and the Denver Public Library.

Our Training Model 

We build on the wisdom of lived experience, helping students to deepen their understanding of recovery and develop skills needed on the job. Activities like role plays and practice elements give students time and opportunity to make skills their own.

Students must demonstrate adequate comprehension of the course by:

Completing assigned readings, videos, and written study guides

Completing homework assignments

Participating in virtual classroom activities

Attending all virtual training sessions 

Taking part in practice elements to demonstrate mastery of key topics

Scoring an 80% or higher on the final exam

Testimonials about Our Training

 “The Peer Support Specialist Training conducted by the Colorado Mental Wellness Network changed my life! I have found passion and purpose again. Through the training, I was not only able to see how my lived experience could be of service to others I was able to assimilate my co-occurring disorders.” 

“I was able to take the skills I learned in the training and put them to use immediately in my role as a peer support volunteer at an addiction treatment center. Re-framing mental illness into mental wellness, approaching each peer from strengths-based perspective, and learning more about a trauma informed care system changes how I work with a peer.” 

“The facilitators gave me a realistic view of what working in the field looks like. They spoke of advocacy, self-care and working in systems where a peer support specialist is new. The resource materials put together for the training were impressive. I am confident I will walk into a paid position having incredible knowledge and the resources to be successful.” 

“I am thankful I was able to take this training. What I learned during the 3 weeks will serve me well in my future.” 

“As a person in recovery and someone who works in the field, this course allowed me to refocus both my path and my ability to offer empowered support to the peers I work with.” 

“This has been so inspirational, as well as very enlightening for me. It has helped me grow as a peer mentor and as a person. It challenged me to dig deeper and really educate myself.” 

“My approach to working with peers in recovery has changed"