Q1: WHAT IS A PEER SUPPORT SPECIALIST?
A: Peer Support is a recovery support service in which a Certified Peer Specialist utilizes his/her training, lived experience and experiential knowledge to mentor and facilitate change for an individual 18 years or older with achieving their self-identified recovery and resilience goals. Peer Support services include assisting individuals in a variety of forms such as providing information about services, or self-care, supporting the development of skills, advocacy, and facilitating access to services and resources. These services are designed to promote empowerment, foster self-determination, and choice, and inspire hope as the individual progresses through the recovery process. Peer Support Services help individuals become less isolated, feel empowered and be more active in a self-directed life. Learn more about the position in Idaho here: https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/providers/behavioral-health-providers/peer-and-family-support-specialists
Q2: WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR ATTENDING THE CLASS?
A: Eligibility for peer support certification is our basic requirement, which includes being at least 18 years of age, having at least a GED or high school diploma in education, having a mental health or co-occurring diagnosis, and being in ongoing recovery for at least a year.
Q3: WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY ‘RECOVERY’?
A: ‘Recovery’ in mental health isn’t like recovering from a cold: it doesn’t have to mean that the illness or symptoms are completely gone. It means that you have progressed enough with tools, treatments, and healing that you are progressing in life and have hope. It is important to note that while co-occurring disorder (mental health + substance use) recovery is part of peer support, if your experience and interest is purely in substance use recovery, you might be more interested in the Recovery Coach role.
Q4: IS THIS A GOOD CAREER FOR ME?
A: It depends on what you are looking for! It is in high demand in the state of Idaho. You usually can have almost complete control over your schedule, autonomy in the position, and part of the requirements of the job is protecting your own mental well-being. This work can be challenging but gives you a sense purpose and satisfaction while supporting your wellness. Everyone’s experience is a little different.
Q5: HOW LONG IS THE CLASS?
A: The class, by state regulation, is about 40 hours. Typically, we teach these hours spread across 5 consecutive Fridays, from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm Mountain Time, with an hour for lunch and multiple breaks.
Q6: IS FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE?
A: There are many possible paths for financial assistance. If you are in contact with a behavioral health agency about peer support work, talk to them about possibly covering the class expenses. Vocational Rehabilitation is another possible option to help cover the expense. Other state-funded options may be available, please contact us at email@example.com for more information.
Q7: HOW IS YOUR CLASS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER PEER SUPPORT TRAINING CLASSES OFFERED IN IDAHO?
A: We believe we have many advantages. Our curriculum is created in-house by a certified peer support specialist with years of experience in the field as well as a human services degree, and based on the state requirements for Certified Peer Support training. Michelle and Dyany have years of ongoing experience working as peer support specialists. Michelle also has certifications in Family Support and the Youth Endorsement, as well as being the supervisor for our peer support program, giving us a large amount of useful and current expertise. We also are the least expensive course price in the state of Idaho, offer one retake of the test if needed, and include not just required information in the materials, but practical information to help you succeed in the career.
Q8: WHAT DOES THE APPLICATION PROCESS LOOK LIKE?
A: First, review our Readiness Guide and determine if this seems like a good fit for you. If it is, then fill out the application and submit that and 2 letters of reference from persons who have been with you through at least a good portion of your recovery journey (one letter is preferred to be from a professional support such as counselor or clergy, but that is not required). Once we have received and reviewed that information, we will contact you for a screening interview which will take about an hour. Once that is passed, you can pay the fee to lock your position in the class and pick up the materials.
Q9: DO YOU HAVE VIRTUAL OR IN-PERSON CLASSES?
A: Currently, our class is offered as a hybrid with Zoom and in-person in our Boise office. We ask that you pick the format best for you and stick with that through the entire class, unless there is unexpected illness, in which case reach out to us and you can switch to Zoom.
Q10: WHEN DO I NEED TO PAY FOR THE CLASS?
A: Payment is not expected until after you are accepted into the class (after the screening interview), but will need to be received 10 days before the class starts. You will receive an invoice with your acceptance letter after the screening interview.
Q11: HOW DO I PAY FOR THE CLASS?
A: Payment for tuition and textbook may be made by cash, cashier’s check, debit or credit with either Visa or MasterCard. Cash and cashier’s checks can be either hand delivered to our Boise office directly, or mailed in.
Q12: HOW AND WHEN WILL I KNOW THAT I HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED TO THE CLASS?
A: We will generally reach out to you via email within 3 business days after your screening interview is completed.
Q13: WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING TO THE CLASS OR HAVE WHEN I AM TAKING THE COURSE VIA ZOOM?
A: For either, the core need is to have your copy of the class manual. For in-person, a water bottle, pens or pencils for note-taking, lunch if you need it, laptop if possible, and small items to help you feel comfortable during and 8-hour class are recommended. For Zoom, we recommend connecting via a laptop or desktop computer over mobile devices, and a relatively quiet, private area is recommended.
Q14: WHAT IF I HAVE TO MISS PART OF THE CLASS TIME?
A: If you know before the course starts that you will need to be gone more than an hour during the course, we recommend trying to take a later course. If an emergency comes up after the course has started, then please reach out to one of the class facilitators to make arrangements. If you are attending the class in person and get sick, you can switch to Zoom after reaching out to one of the class facilitators to verify, but we ask that if there is a possibility of COVID-19, that a test be done and the facilitators be informed of the test results immediately. Due to state requirements of 40 hours of training, no more than 1 hour total can be missed.
Q15: HOW DO I GET MY MATERIALS?
A: Materials can be picked up or mailed after we receive payment for the class. If you live in the Treasure Valley, we recommend coming in to the office to pick up your course manual, and this must be done at least a day before the class starts. If you cannot come into the office, then a $25 shipping and handling fee will be charged.