Peer Support Specialist Job Description

The Peer Support Specialist uses their own unique, life-altering experience in order to guide and support others who are in some form of recovery. This typically refers to patients recovering from addiction, mental health disorders or abuse.

Peer Support Specialists work in conjunction with highly trained and educated professionals. They fill a gap by providing support from the perspective of someone who has first-hand experience, something that professionals cannot learn from training or education. They may work for the government, in health facilities, nonprofit organizations or rehabilitation centers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for health educators and community health workers in general will increase by 13 percent through 2024, faster than average.

 

Peer Support Specialist Duties and Responsibilities 

In order to provide support to patients based on personal experience, a Peer Support Specialist performs many different tasks. We analyzed job listings for Peer Support Specialists in order to identify these core duties and responsibilities.

Support Patients

The Peer Support Specialist first and foremost uses their personal experiences to develop meaningful and trusting relationships with patients, acting as a mentor. As someone who successfully managed their own recovery, the Peer Support Specialist provides patients an example of what they can strive for in their recovery.

Coordinate Patient Logistics

In order to support the facility, the Peer Support Specialist handles some of the logistics of patient arrival and departure. This includes arranging transportation for the patient, managing follow-up appointments, and working with facility administrators and discharge staff members.

Build Community

The Peer Support Specialist works to build a community of both patients and staff that is supportive and conducive to patient growth and recovery. They assist in the creation and implementation of social activities and help create a positive environment for everyone.

Identify Resources for Patients

Peer Support Specialists link up with various community organizations and resources to provide additional support for patients, particularly as they transition from recovery back into the general community. This can include continued healthcare, housing, job assistance, and additional treatment services as well as support in the task of finding or re-integrating with friends, family, and outside communities.

 

Peer Support Specialist Skills

Peer Support Specialists are highly compassionate individuals who have excellent communication and interpersonal skills. It is crucial to their role that they be capable of building trust and forming impactful relationships with their patients. They also possess first-hand experience that allows them to connect more deeply with their patients.

Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Peer Support Specialists with these core skills. If you want to work as a Peer Support Specialist, focus on the following.

  • Obtaining a High School Diploma
  • Demonstrating peer support or mental health experience
  • Having personal experience relevant to services provided
  • Being able to obtain Peer Support Specialist certification
  • Being able to travel, sometimes daily, in local area

Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your Peer Support Specialist toolbox and broaden your career options.

  • Extensive knowledge of community services
  • Possession of a license and vehicle
  • Fluency in a second language
  • Bachelor degree
  • Knowledge of Medicaid care

 

Peer Support Specialist Resources

We searched the Web to find the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as a Peer Support Specialist. From thought leaders to industry groups, this list is packed with opportunities to learn, connect and engage.

On the Web

PDA – A blog on the benefits of peer support

Peer Support – A blog from Peers for Progress

Peer Support and On Our Way – A blog on peer support for recovery

Industry Groups

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance – Leading organization for people with or servicing depression and bipolar disorder

Peers for Progress – A peer support network

RehabPro – International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals

Peer Support Specialist Books

Personality Disorders and Mental Illnesses – A comprehensive guide to mental illness

Rewired – A new approach to addiction and recovery

Peer Support Specialist Pocket Resource – Information for peer support specialists

 

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