Peer Supporters

What is a Peer Supporter?

When people who have had similar experiences with mental health and substance use conditions give each other encouragement, hope, assistance, guidance, and understanding to aid in recovery, it is called peer support. Support is essential to recovery. One of the most helpful things one person can say to (or hear from) another is “I’ve been there.” Peers coming together, sharing experiences, and mutually gaining hope and support from one another is the foundation of peer support. Individuals who provide peer support are often called peer supporters. Peer support has been occurring naturally for a very long time in many unique ways, and there are endless examples and evidence of the healing power of sharing lived experiences with one another.

What is the difference between Certified Peer Specialist and Peer Supporter?

The difference between peer supporters and peer specialists is that peer specialists are required to attend peer specialist specific training and certification, where specific skills and competencies are learned for the role. While peer supporters may attend many various trainings, and may receive certificates for different educational experiences, unless peer specialist training and certification has been completed, they are not a peer specialist. Peer specialists, on the other hand, are also peer supporters. Some individuals may train and certify as a peer specialist, and then make the decision they prefer the role of peer supporter. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a peer specialist, the peer specialist section provides an overview.

Many of the roles and activities of peer supporters are the same as peer specialists. For instance, both peer supporters and peer specialists may choose to…

  • Facilitate support groups
  • Sponsor a peer in a 12 step community
  • Deliver community educational programs
  • Share resources about wellness with peers
  • Offer hope and inspiration
  • Talk one on one with an individual who has had a similar experience to provide support and hope
  • Volunteer at a warm line or hotline
  • Work at a community center
  • Volunteer throughout the community

However, unlike peer specialists, no specific training is required to identify as a peer supporter. While education is not required to be a peer supporter, many peers choose to expand upon their knowledge and skills.

While the evidence is rapidly growing in support of the peer support movement, hearing real people share their thoughts about their own experiences as peer supporters truly shows the impact of the role. View videos to meet peer supporters and hear their testimonials.

Meet peer supporters and learn the best part of supporting one’s peers.

To get to know more peer supporters, check out the Peer Leadership Podcast!