Recovery Support Peer Specialist (RSPS)

Texas professional certification for individuals in sustained recovery from substance use disorder.

What is a Recovery Support Peer Specialist (RSPS)?

Recovery Support Peer Specialist is a person who has lived experience of recovery with substance use challenges who is trained to support people with substance use challenges.

Recovery Support Peer Specialists recognize that there are multiple pathways of recovery, and support the people they serve to discover what pathway works best for them. They do not act as a sponsor or a guide, and they do not push people to embrace abstinence or the recovery pathway they chose.

Peer Specialists work in many different environments, with jobs that focus on direct service, program management, advocacy, and more. For example, RSPS roles typically include types of work such as:

  • Recovery and wellness support, which includes providing information on and support with planning for recovery;
  • Mentoring, which includes serving as a role model and providing assistance in finding needed community resources and services; and
  • Advocacy, which includes providing support in stressful or urgent situations, and helping to ensure that the recipient’s rights are respected.

Eligibility Requirements

Individuals interested in becoming certified as a Mental Health Peer Specialist must meet the following eligibilty criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • Have lived experience with mental health
  • Have a high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED)
  • Be willing to appropriately share your own recovery story with recipients
  • Be able to demonstrate current self-directed recovery
  • Pass criminal history and registry checks

RSPS Careers

Peer supporters work in many different environments, with jobs that focus on direct service, program management, advocacy, and more. For example, peer supporters in Texas provide direct services in:

  • Criminal justice settings (jails, prisons, specialty courts, probation and parole, etc.)
  • Community outreach programs (where peer supporters go into the communities where people live)
  • Hospitals and Inpatient Treatment Centers (psychiatric hospitals, general medicine hospitals, substance use treatment centers, and Veterans Administration hospitals)
  • Outpatient clinics (Federally Qualified Health Clinics, mental health clinics, substance use treatment clinics)
  • Peer-run organizations (Consumer-Operated Service Providers, Recovery Community Organizations, and other groups that are run by peer supporters and/or people in recovery)
  • Residential settings (domestic violence shelters, residential settings for people in substance use recovery, shelters or residential settings for people experiencing homelessness, etc.)
  • Virtual settings (app-based services, teleconferencing, chat-based support, etc.)
  • And many more!

Peer specialists also hold many different titles in the agencies where they work, including:

  • Peer Specialist or Family Partner (Paid or Volunteer)
  • Peer Specialist or Family Partner Supervisor
  • Program Coordinator
  • Program Manager
  • Recovery Coach
  • Executive Director
  • Legislative Advocate/Policy Fellow
  • And more!

What is it like working as a Peer Specialist?

Here is what a few Peer Specialists had to say about what working in Peer Support is like. 

Play Video

Recovery Support Peer Specialist Certification

In Texas, the certification process for Recovery Support Peer Specialists involves taking formal training with a certified training entitiy, and completion of a supervised internship period before recieving full certification from the Texas Certification Board. During this internship, individuals receive supervision and support from a Peer Specialist Supervisor.

Full certification can be achieved within 8 months, but it may take up to a year to complete the work experience hours and application process, depending on the individual’s speed.

Completing the online orientation is the first step to becoming a certified Peer Specialist in Texas. This orientation will provide you with an overview of the career field, help you gauge your readiness, and ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements needed to obtain your certification. The orientation information is located here.

Once you read through the self-assessment questions and orientation resources, you will need to download and sign the attestation of completion located at the bottom of the HHSC webpage. You will need a copy of this to register for training. 

Peer Training in Texas is provided by independent Certified Training Entity organizations. You can register for Peer Specialist and Peer Specialist Supervisor through these organizations directly. PeerForce provides a consolidated calendar of various training dates offered in Texas. You can view this calendar to find an upcoming training opportunity. Training opportunities are offered in both in-person and virtual formats. The training entity you register with will provide all the information you need to attend the course.

The Core training is a 3-day 19.5 hour, in-person or online workshop that will give you a comprehensive overview of what peer support is, and what peer specialists do, and familiarize you with the role and functions of a Peer Specialist.

This training is a 40 to 46-hour, in-person or online training workshop that helps peers learn and practice the essential skills for a Peer Support Specialist. In order to move forward with your state application, you must also pass a knowledge assessment at the end of the course.

After you complete Core and Supplemental training, you must begin your application process with the Texas Certification Board (TCB).

TCB uses a digital application called Certemy that you will be uploading information into for the duration of your internship and supervision period.

Typically, the training entity you complete your training with will help you set up your Certemy application. However, if you are unsure about how to do this, or are having trouble, check out the video below.

In order to gain MHPS or RSPS certification, you will need to complete 250 internship hours under the supervision of a Peer Specialist Supervisor (PSS), either in-person or online. These internship hours can be done on the job or in a volunteer position, as long as they are signed off on by a Peer Specialist Supervisor and logged in your Certemy application. Certemy will walk you through how to give PSS access to your application to log your work experience hours.

After completing the necessary internship hours, you will need to complete and submit your Certemy application with their Peer Specialist Supervisor’s information, all hours logged, and a Letter of Recommendation from their PSS.

After completing your 250 hours, ask your PSS for a Letter of Recommendation. Upload this to your Certemy account and submit it for approval.

Wait for certification; you will be notified by the TCB when your application has been reviewed and approved and will be sent your official Peer Specialist Certification.

Step-by-Step Guide to RSPS Certification

Learn more about each of these steps with this step-by-step guide. We break down every step of the RSPS certification process with helpful links and FAQs from the peers we have helped.

RSPS Certification FAQs

For more FAQs about the training, internship, and application process, check out the PeerForce wiki.

Costs for the trainings are dependent upon the training entity where you apply to take the training. Some training entities include the entire cost of both the Core and Supplemental in their training fees, where other entities may require people to apply and pay for the Core training and the Supplemental training separately.

The cost of Peer Specialist Core training can range from $100-$300 depending on which organization is providing the training.

The cost of RSPS Supplemental Training ranges from $400 to $650. 

Browsing the PeerForce training calendar will show you trainings offered by different training entities and how much you would need to pay to attend. 

Yes, financial aid is available for those pursuing a career as a  Peer Specialist. PeerForce, among other organizations, offers a variety of financial aid options to help cover the cost of training and certification. Additionally, many training entities provide scholarship opportunities, making it more accessible for individuals who are passionate about supporting others on their mental health journey. 

To apply for financial aid, visit our financial aid page and review the available options. Each training entity has specific requirements. Make sure you meet them before submitting your application

The time it takes to obtain a full MHPS certification can be anywhere between 6 months to a year, depending on how quickly a person completes the training and 250 supervised work experience hours. 

Finding a Training Opportunity

To find upcoming MHPS training opportunities, you can visit the PeerForce training calendars page here. You can filter this calendar to find what type of training you are looking for (i.e. in-person, virtual, nights and weekends, etc).

Another option is to reference the list of certified Training Entities on the Texas Certification Board website, and look at their respective training calendars for upcoming dates.

Registering for Training

The registration process for MHPS training is different for each training entity. Typically, you will need to submit your personal information and proof that you have completed the online state orientation module (if you are registering for Peer Specialist Core training).

Need Help?

Visit our contact us page to connect with our Career Support Team.

Ready to Start?
Take the Texas Peer Specialist Orientation

The online orientation is the first step to getting certified as a Peer Specialist! The information in this module will provide all the information you need to learn more about the career, check your eligibility, and answer questions you have about the certification and training process. ​