Virginia Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS)

What is a Peer Recovery Specialist?

A Peer Recovery Specialist (PRS) is a self-identified person with lived experience with a mental health and/or addiction condition who is in successful and ongoing recovery from mental health and/or addiction challenges. Peer Recovery Specialists use their lived experience to support another person’s recovery journey.

What are Peer Recovery Support Services?

Mental Health Peer-Run Programs

What is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist?

Certified Peer Recovery Specialists (CPRS) provide non-clinical, person-centered, strengths based, wellness focused, and trauma-informed support while partnering with someone in the development of their wellness-recovery plan.

Certification is not mandatory for employment in Virginia. An individual may support another person’s recovery (peer support) with or without certification or registration. An employer may choose the qualifications, certification or registration of peer supporters they hire. It will be important for non-certified, non-registered roles to exist so that individuals may collect the experience they need to become certified or registered.

Virginia PRS Certification and Registration Pathways

CPRS Practice Guidelines

CPRS Core Competencies

How Do I Get Started?

1. Attend a PRS Training

Attend a PRS Training

Attend a 72-hour DBHDS Peer Recovery Specialist (PRS) training in your area.  You can find announcements about upcoming PRS trainings through…

2. Earn Your Hours

Earn Your Hours

500 hours of volunteer or paid experience specific to the IC&RC domains is required in order to apply for certification. The applicant must be currently providing peer recovery support services.

Visit the job board to find current opportunities. 

Options for earning your hours include…

  • Community services boards
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Peer-run centers

3. Apply for Certification

Apply for Certification

The certification process is optional and depends on the employer. If the employer (like a CSB for example) needs to bill Medicaid for peer services, the certification will likely be mandatory. Not all peer service employers bill Medicaid however.

The Virginia Certification Board (VCB) is a private, non-profit corporation which offers voluntary credentialing to the substance abuse and other behavioral health professional.

4. Continue Your Education

Continue Your Education

Seek out other opportunities for continued education. You can also find information under News and Announcements.

Medicaid Reimbursement
for Peer Services

Registered Peer Recovery Specialist (RPRS)

Effective January 3, 2018, all Certified Peer Recovery Specialists will be able to register with the Board of Counseling. Certification is mandatory to register with the Department of Health Professions Board of Counseling. Registration with the Board of Counseling is required for billing Medicaid. Certification from any National or State certification body that meets Virginia standards is recognized for the purposes of Registration. 

You can learn more about Registered Peer Recovery Specialists (RPRS) at:

DBHDS Office of Recovery Services Registry of Peer Recovery Specialists

Commonwealth of Virginia Board of Counseling RPRS FAQs

Continuing Education and Training

Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery
Education, training, and research based on Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP)

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Peer specialist core training and continuing education

Emotional CPR
Public health education program designed to teach people to assist others through an emotional crisis

Courses on a variety of topics related to improving health and healthcare services

Magellan Health E-Learning Center
Educational resources and continuing education

Mental Health America National Certified Peer Specialist Certification
The first national advanced peer specialist certification assures employers that they are hiring individuals with a uniform high standard of knowledge and experience

Mental Health America of Virginia
Recovery education training including Consumer Empowerment and Leadership Training and Facilitator Skills Training

Mental Health First Aid
In-person training that teaches you how to help people developing a mental illness or in a crisis

Mind Tools
Management Training and Leadership Training

National Alliance on Mental Illness Virginia
Peer-to-Peer and In Our Own Voice

NET Institute
Coursework and resources in counseling, addiction, prevention, and recovery support

Person Centered Thinking Training
PCT training serves as a foundation for all who are involved in supporting people with disabilities in Virginia. Participants acquire core skills to assure that people receive person centered supports and get better lives as a result.

SAARA of Virginia
REVIVE! and Peer Recovery Specialist training

Skills You Need
Helping you develop the skills you need for life

Smart Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training)
Distance facilitator training in SMART Recovery 4-point program for addictive behaviors

VOCAL Virginia
WRAP Facilitator Training, Peer Recovery Specialist training, as well as other continuing education programs

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