What are Peer Support Specialists?
Peer Support Specialists or Peer Support Coaches are individuals in recovery from mental health conditions, substance use, trauma and/or co-occurring conditions. They use their experience to help others seeking wellness and recovery. Peer workers attend a training program to develop their skills in social-emotional support, advocacy, communication, and coaching.
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
- Advocacy: support and backing in treatment planning with providers
- Hope: serving as examples that recovery is possible
- Mentoring: tools and strategies for reaching and maintaining recovery based on lived experience
Click here to view the National Practice Standards for Peer Support Specialists.
Training with the Colorado Mental Wellness Network
We are the leading peer-operated mental health organization in Colorado that offers this training! Who better to learn peer support than from real peers who are living what they teach? Our 73-hour curriculum is comprehensive, robust, and in-depth, originally developed with support from the International Association of Peer Supporters (iNAPS).
Our training exceeds the competency standards established by the Colorado Behavioral Health Council and the International Credentialing and Reciprocity Consortium. 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).
Tuition for the virtual training will be $450. ( The value of the training is over $900, but we are able to keep the tuition lower with grant funding.)
Training is three weeks long, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.
2021 Training Dates for Denver
Our next training is scheduled to take place October 25th – November 12th. The deadline for applications is July 26th.
Please note: because of COVID-19, our training has been converted to a virtual format. Applicants MUST have reliable internet and some familiarity with computers as we will be using Zoom and Google applications. This is a synchronous training and participants will be expected to be present on-line from 8:30 – 5:00 on class days. For more information about our training and how to apply, please visit our application pages.
Training Required to Become a Peer Support Specialist
Most employers in Colorado require Peer Support Specialists/Peer Coaches to have training in a set of core competencies. The competencies were established by 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
Why Train with the Colorado Mental Wellness Network?
We are the leading peer-run organization in Colorado that offers this training. 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 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. The trauma-informed approach training is more valuable than gold!”
Just a Few of our Proud Graduates!