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Peer Specialist Initiative

The Road to Recovery...and a Career Path

In order to leverage the unique perspective of people with lived experience to help others on their path to recovery, the Certified Peer Specialist program was launched in 2006. Developed by the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS), PROACT (Pennsylvania Recovery Organization-Achieving Community Together) and the Mental Health Association of Southeast Pennsylvania, this innovative program trains and certifies people with behavioral health and substance use challenges to work in the behavioral health field.

This program prepares people with behavioral health and substance use challenges for career opportunities to support other people with the same or similar challenges. The two-week training program focuses on:

  • Peer support
  • Communications skills
  • Cultural competency
  • Conflict management
  • Crisis intervention
  • Facilitating self-help groups

At the conclusion of the training program, a job fair is held to connect peer specialists with provider agencies. With the support of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, the program receives funding, technical assistance and job readiness skills to help peer specialists transition to the working world. Since the program's inception, over 500 Peer Specialists have been trained and certified.

Quick Facts:

  • Real-world perspective to help other people with lived experiences
  • Comprehensive training program
  • Job fair, career opportunities
  • Approved as a Medicaid billable service

Become a Certified Peer Specialist

The Behavioral Health Certificate and Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) Certification Program is a free 10‐day training. All those who complete the training will receive a Behavioral Health Certificate (BHC). Participants who meet the state’s CPS criteria will receive an additional CPS certificate qualifying them for CPS positions.

Please refer to the DBHIDS main page for the latest training.

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