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Peer Education

  • Overview

    Training that supports peers in recovery

    No one can understand mental health challenges quite like someone who has faced them.  Our Peer Education Program trains people with lived experience to become Peer Support Specialists, so they can help others overcome similar problems.  Our Peer Education Program currently provides two modules to help people become certified as Peer Support Specialists and three advanced modules for those who want to expand their knowledge base further.  We will soon be adding monthly continuing education classes as well.  Classes meet twice a week for twelve weeks, and educate Peer Support Specialists around critical concepts such as:

    • recovery planning
    • respecting boundaries
    • sharing lived experience
    • conflict resolution
    • crisis intervention
    • community resources
    • major diagnoses and common treatment approaches
    • understanding how psychiatric medications work and sometimes produce side effects

    The combination of this training alongside lived experience creates a powerful support for people on the path to recovery.

    Every day on the streets, I can put into practice the skills I learned in Hali Floreen’s amazing classes.  They taught me the components of recovery, and how to make better decisions and choices. Knowing these skills positively affects a person’s quality of life.


    Laila, Peer Support Specialist

    Success Story

    From Support to Staff: Hasani's Experience

    I have schizophrenia. Five years ago, when I had a break, I frequently visited the Enterprise Recovery Center and received services. I had a very good peer specialist at the time and also a psychology intern who told me about the Peer Education program.  At one class, I heard about an opening on the CARE Team as I was learning the different facets of mental health and the different agencies associated with helping homeless and mentally challenged people throughout the county.  

    Now I have the best job I’ve ever had and it has allowed me to learn, thrive, and feel like I’m an asset to the community and to the professionals and specialists who were there for me in my time of need.  

    I love and thank them sincerely from the bottom of my heart. 


  • Program Details

    Peer training is an important part of our programming.  Our educational programs are grounded in the core competencies of peer support: recovery-oriented, person-centered, voluntary, relationship-focused, and trauma-informed. The Peer Education program currently provides two modules to help people become certified as Peer Support Specialists and three advanced modules for those who want to expand their knowledge base further. In 2020, we will be providing monthly continuing education classes as well.

    Training Modules

    Classes at a Glance

    Module One: Peer Specialist I. This course introduces the role of the peer support specialist, with an emphasis on the recovery process and on the strengths-based peer recovery model. Topics include empowerment, cultural competency, co-occurring disorders, wellness, conflict resolution, social inclusion and anger management. The class also covers critical peer support core competencies, including rapport building, reflective listening, engendering hope, and unconditional positive regard. The class will be discussing the delicate issue of self-disclosure, and how it can strengthen peer relationships, instill trust, and boost a peer support specialist’s ability to inspire and lead. This course includes frequent role-playing.

    Module Two: Peer Specialist II. This course provides a deeper understanding of recovery planning, the strength-based model, and cultural competency. Participants will learn how to identify their own areas of privilege and biases. They will also evaluate how these factors negatively impact their effectiveness as a peer support specialist. Additional topics include, developing wellness strategies, motivational interviewing, de-escalating conflict, and trauma-informed care. Learning about and practicing advocacy skills will also be part of the curriculum. Participants will be writing and presenting their own personal recovery plans. Role-playing is utilized.

    Module Three: Understanding Psychiatric Diagnosis. This course reviews several major mental and personality disorders found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders, (DSM-5). The diagnostic features of each disorder will be reviewed. In addition, theories pertaining to genetic, neurobiological, and environmental influences on specific disorders will be discussed. A sampling of the DSM- 5 disorders covered in the class include bipolar 1 disorder, the schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders, paranoid personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder. Peer Support Specialists are instructed not to diagnose clients. Case examples are reviewed.

    Module Four: Introduction to Psychiatric Medication. This course examines over forty psychotropic medications falling under six broad categories including, among others, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics and anxiolytics. Participants learn how psychotropic medications are used to treat the symptoms of specific diagnoses. A key objective is to help participants understand the benefits of, as well as the side effects caused by indie dual psychotropic medications. Basic concepts pertaining to neurobiological mechanisms and pharmacological interactions that come into play will be explored.

    Module Five: Peer Case Management. Practical approaches to case management are introduced in this course, including Assertive Community Treatment, the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Model, and the Strengths Model. This course makes extensive use of case review and discussion, with tests focusing on the students’ ability to analyze cases. strengths based assessment procedures are reviewed with role-playing. The concepts of supported employment, supported education, and supported housing are introduced. Community resources are reviewed and presented by the participants.

  • FAQ

    What are the foundational competencies you teach for peers?

    In our Peer Specialist I and Peer Specialist II modules, we specifically cover all the core competencies required by SAMHSA in their guidelines, using role-playing and discussion to heighten learning.  We place special emphasis on recovery planning, communication skills and cultural awareness.  We currently do not provide education specifically for people working with children and adolescents.

    When are your classes offered?

    Each module of the Peer Education Program meets twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays for twelve weeks.  The first two modules are alternated and meet from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.  Advanced modules are rotated and meet from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.

    What will a peer certification from your program allow me to do?

    Our courses are designed so graduates can apply for any position that is described as a peer position or, specifically, a Peer Support Specialist position.  Programs working with mental health and substance use issues are increasingly using peers in key positions.

    If you have any questions that aren’t answered above,
    please contact us so we can help you.