Peer Education

  • Overview

    Training that supports peers in recovery

    No one can understand mental health challenges quite like someone who’s 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. Introduces students to the concept of recovery and how it is applied to mental health and dual diagnosis challenges. Topics include resilience, cultural awareness and competence, understanding of emotions, wellness concepts, substance use and dual diagnosis, communication skills with recovery language, recovery planning, respecting boundaries,sharing lived experience, conflict resolution, crisis intervention, community resources, and teamwork skills. Role playing is used to refine skills.

    Module Two: Peer Specialist II. Expands on the topics in the Peer Specialist I module. In addition, there is an emphasis on skills of advocacy, ethics for Peer Specialists, and the nuts and bolts of recovery planning. Role playing is used to refine skills and students practice relating their recovery story.

    Module Three: Understanding Psychiatric Diagnosis. Although Peer Specialists use recovery language in their work, it is important for them to be able to communicate with mental health professionals who tend to use the medical model in diagnosis and treatment. All of the major diagnoses in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)” are explained in this module along with treatment approaches commonly used by clinicians.

    Module Four: Introduction to Psychiatric Medication. A large portion of this course is spent in introducing the neurobiology of the brain and the action of neurons. It is strongly emphasized that a Peer Specialist’s role is not to make any suggestions to clients about medications or even offer personal experience with drugs but rather to assist clients (when asked) in understanding how psychiatric medications work (in general) in the brain and sometimes produce side effects. They can also support clients in terms of their medication compliance with physicians.

    Module Five: Peer Case Management. This course looks at strengths-based approaches to case management and introduces the Assertive Community Treatment Model. Working in a team environment is emphasized as well as peer assessment tools, supported education and employment, as well as record keeping. Motivational interviewing is introduced. Role playing is used to refine skills.

  • Locations

    3270 Kerner Blvd.
    San Rafael, CA 94901

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    Mental Health Program

    • Mental Health Programs

    3270 Kerner Boulevard, San Rafael, CA, USA

  • 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 me so I can help you.

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