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 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.
Scholarships for CPRS Application
Effective January 1, 2022, the Virginia Certification Board is pleased to announce that the scholarship for the CPRS application fee and retest fee has been renewed! DBHDS is currently offering a scholarship for $150 to cover most of the application fee of $175. Therefore, applicants only need to submit $25 with their application materials. The discounted fee is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Also included in the scholarship is a retest fee waiver. Candidates who fail the exam will have their retest fee waived. The retest fee waiver is limited to one/per applicant. Scholarships for initial application and retesting will be processed on a first-come-first serve basis through September 30, 2025. Questions about the application process and/or retesting should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
How Do I Get Started?
The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services has dedicated the AskORS email address for getting the answers to your questions about . . .
- PRS Training,
- PRS Supervisor Training
- Getting your name or announcement placed on Recovery Blast
So, when you have a question about PRS Training, PRS Supervisor Training, and anything Recovery Blast related,
just send an email to the dedicated email address: AskORS@DBHDS.VIRGINIA.GOV.
1. Attend a PRS Training
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.
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:
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
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
Management Training and Leadership Training
National Alliance on Mental Illness Virginia
Peer-to-Peer and In Our Own Voice
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
WRAP Facilitator Training, Peer Recovery Specialist training, as well as other continuing education programs