Office of Consumer Affairs
Certified Peer Support and Wellness Specialist Skills Training 

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To identify, equip, train, certify, and further educate peers with the skills required to provide relationship building and trauma informed peer support for people utilizing behavioral health services.
Peer Support is an evidence-based practice. Peer support specialists identify that they have lived experience. The Peer Support workforce works from the perspective of their lived experience with mental health, substance use challenges, trauma, and their own personal recovery and wellness journeys to assist in educating others about the reality of success, hopes, and dreams and the multiple pathways to recovery. This mentoring is a shoulder-to-shoulder process where both parties, the mentor and mentee, learn and grow from the experience.
The Certified Peer Support and Wellness Specialist Skills Training grew out of a Transformation Transfer Initiative (TTI) Grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)  in 2009. This grant allowed the purchase of the training from Focus on Recovery United, which included Heather McDonald of FOR-U, Chyrell Bellamy of Yale University, and Shery Mead and Chris Hansen of Shery Mead Consulting. A curriculum for the State of Nebraska’s Office of Consumer Affairs was purchased that focuses on trauma-informed Intentional Peer Support. 
In 2009 a group of 9 facilitators were trained. In 2013 a group of 10 facilitators were trained. Training for the facilitators was made possible by the TTI grant awards in 2009 and in 2013.  These facilitators along with the Office of Consumer Affairs have added curriculum in advocacy, self-advocacy, and Nebraska specific history. Currently there are 16 active facilitators from the Office of Consumer Affairs Facilitator's Circle. 
The Office of Consumer Affairs Facilitator's Circle conducts a minimum of one to two Peer Support and Wellness Specialist (PSWS) trainings per year. Peer support and wellness specialists work in hospitals, addiction treatment facilities, outpatient care facilities, hospital diversion services, family and youth agencies, police departments, emergency rooms, support groups, mental health programs, and much more! 
All persons who hold a certificate of attendance/completion of 40 hours of any peer support training are invited to sit for a statewide exam to become a Certified Peer Support and Wellness Specialist (CPSWS). Traditionally, only 74% of candidates pass the exam; we encourage people to consider this before taking the exam.
The Office of Consumer Affairs recommends that CPSWSs maintain quarterly co-supervision and six hours of continuing education annually. The Living Well curriculum offered through public health ( ) and attending the Statewide Behavioral Health Conference ( will provide six continuing education credit hours.
As of September 15, 2014 there are 258 Certified Peer Support and Wellness Specialists in Nebraska.
Nebraska Peer Support Focus Group-Survey Report Final Added new testing dates and updated the number of CPSWS in NE
Stay Tuned Spring 2015!
Upcoming Quiz Dates
Lincoln, NE
      November 03, 2014
      November 10, 2014
      November 14, 2014
Bellevue, NE
      November 18, 2014
      November 19, 2014
      November 20, 2014
* NOTE: Watch this space for more opportunities to take the Peer Support and Wellness Specialist Certification Quiz. Space is limited so register early once an announcement is made.

2012 Report on the employment of Peer Support and Wellness Specialists and what participants say about the training.
For more information contact:
Cynthia Harris, MS, CPSWS
Carol Coussons de Reyes,
Certified Peer Specialist, MS
Administrator Office of Consumer Affairs
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
Division of Behavioral Health
Office of Consumer Affairs
301 Centennial Mall South
PO Box 95026
Lincoln, NE  68509