Certified Peer Support Specialist

A Certified Peer Support Specialist is an individual who uses their lived experience in recovery from mental illness and/or substance use disorder, in addition to skills learned in a formal training, to deliver services promoting recovery and resiliency.

Optum Health CPSS Training:

A mental health and substance use disorder training. The training prepares people grounded in their recovery, to learn tools and practices to help their peers find their own pathway to recovery. The curriculum covers mental health and substance use disorders evenly. Principles of recovery, discovering strengths, using your recovery story, motivational interviewing, ethics and boundaries, role of trauma, culture and worldview, working with groups, crisis prevention and intervention, self-care and maintaining personal wellness as well as preparing for employment. The cost of this training is paid by the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

What is a Family Peer Support Specialist?

Family Peer Support Specialist (FPSS) offers hope, guidance, advocacy, and camaraderie for parents and caregivers of children and youth receiving services from mental health, substance use, and related services systems. Family Peer Support Specialist deliver peer support through face-to-face support groups, phone calls, or individual meetings. They bring expertise based on their own experience parenting a child or youth with social, emotional, behavioral, or substance use challenges, as well as specialized training, to support other parents and caregivers. Working within a peer support framework that recognizes the power of mutuality and experiential understanding, Family Peer Support Specialist deliver education, information and peer support (Obrochta et al., 2011)

Parents trying to identify and access appropriate services for their child may find child-serving systems (e.g. mental health, education, juvenile justice, child welfare, substance use treatment) complicated and overwhelming. Family Peer Support Specialist support can help these parents navigate systems more effectively, learn from the experiences of other families, feel less alone, and gain hope, ideas, and information. This support can help parents meet their children’s needs more efficiently, and with greater confidence and hope. (Kutash et al, 2011, Hoagwood et al, 2009)

USU CPSS Training:

The USU CPSS Training is covered by a federal grant. The purpose of this is to enlarge Utah’s behavioral health workforce, while introducing integrated health care into peer support services. This training is for peers well into recovery who desire to assist others in their recoveries. It is based on Appalachian Consulting Group’s nationally-recognized peer support training, with added substance use disorder instruction. You MUST complete the REQUIRED 40 hours of Core CPSS training. Supervised field experience in a mental health/substance use disorder agency for 100 hours. (can be your employment if already working in peer support) Integrated Health Endorsement Training, which is 4 hours of online modules and 8 hours in-person, with free career/education counseling for 1 year. The USU CPSS Training fees are covered by a federal grant.

USU Hybrid Peer Support Training

TA grant-funded integrated mental health and substance use disorder peer support training offered in a hybrid format. The program includes a combination of distance-education, online learning modules, and a 2-day face-to-face training. The training is structured as:

          ● One broadcast class, introduction to class cohort, and 4 hour training.
          ● 16 hours of online instruction—self-paced completed within a 3 week period.
          ● 20 hours of in-person training held 3 weeks after initial broadcast class.

The program covers understanding the state mental health system, a shift toward a recovery mindset, problem solving and facing fears, effective listening, motivational interviewing, trauma-informed services, shared decision making, cultural humility, and ethics among other topics. This program is ideal for rural and/or working individuals who would like to learn peer support, but are not able to manage costs, travel, and time for a 5-day in-person training. This training is available throughout Utah at all 28 USU regional campuses using real-time distance education technology in rural areas. The grant funding for this program includes access to internships, apprenticeships, and professional development college courses.

Veteran’s Administration CPSS Training:

If you are a Veteran, and want more information, or to apply, contact Mark Hutcheson. He can be reached at mark.hutcheson@va.gov, 801-582-1565 ext. 2748. Cost for this training is covered through the Veteran’s Administration.

Certified Peer Support Specialist Training Dates


CPSS Core Training:

October 25 - 29, 2021

Only confirmed attendees will be admitted.

Utah State U.

CPSS Core Training:

December 6-10, 2021 Moab

April 4-8, 2022- St. George

October 24-28, 2022- (TBD  SL or Tooele)

Utah State U. Hybrid Training

CPSS Hybrid Peer Support Training:

September 23-24, 2021 SLC, Hybrid- Registration closed

February 2, 2022, In-person: February 25-26, 2022- SLC

June 20, 2022, In-person: July 15-16, 2022- Ogden

Only confirmed attendees will be admitted.

Allies with Families

Family Peer Support

4, 5, 14, 21, and 28,
(40-hour training)


Peer Monthly Calls and Quarterly
Webinars, 2nd Thursday each month from 10 to 11 am. Join the conversation:
‪(470) 241-5408
PIN: ‪867624#

If you would like to apply for any of the training courses listed above, please download the new application and complete. We are no longer accepting the old certification form. Individuals who are currently employed may be given priority, however all are welcome to apply. You can mail, or email your completed application and related attachments to:

Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH)
Email: utahpeersupport@utah.gov
Attn: Utah Certified Peer Support Specialist Program
195 North 1950 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84116