Certified Behavioral Health Peer Support Specialist

In looking at other state plans for peer services, Montana’s Peer Network quickly identified the need for standardization of peer services in Montana. That’s when the “Montana Peer Support Task Force was born. In 2012, The Addictive and Mental Disorder Division and Montana’s Peer Network collaborated to form the task force with the aim “to support and enhance the professional field of peer support for people in the process of recovery from substance use, other addictions, mental illness, or co-occurring disorders.” The task force was able to achieve its mission and goals and Governor Bullock signed Behavioral Health Peer Supporter Certification on March 31, 2017.

The standardization of peer services ensures the following key qualities:

  • Public Safety concerns are addressed such as professionalism
  • Standardized training, supervision and continuing education for all peer workers
  • Workforce development
  • Establishment of a recovery-oriented curricula for peer supporter and behavioral health providers
  • Peer Services are considered a resiliency factor for healthier communities
  • Paradigm shift to “recovery-oriented” service delivery which positively impacts the human, social and financial consequences of untreated serious mental illness and substance use and or addiction

Certification and Renewal

To apply for certification, you must:

  • Complete a 40 hour peer support education program (within the last 5 years). The program must include an exam and verification must be sent to the Board by the training provider. You can get your training from MPN. Check our Events Calendar for upcoming training.
  • Submit the Supervisor Agreement and Supervision Plan.
  • Attest that you have a behavioral health disorder.
  • 2 years in recovery with no hospitalizations or incarcerations.
  • Submit a Legal and Health History Content Form
  • Provide a narrative that outlines the recovery program from the behavior health disorder.
  • Complete the fingerprint/background check process (includes a fee of $27.25 to the Montana Department of Justice).
  • Pay a licensure fee of $125.

Certification must be renewed yearly and expire on December 31 each year.

Renewal requirements:

  • Complete 20 hours of continuing education and submit proof of completion. (May be less if certifying after July 1.)
  • Maintain clinical supervision documentation.
  • Attest to continued recovery (no periods of incarceration, hospitalization, ot inpatient admission related to behavioral health disorder).
  • Pay licensure fee.

It can be advantageous to carry individual professional liability insurance, especially if you are working independently instead of as part of an organization. The National Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC.org) offers a discounted rate for individual professional liability insurance plans. NAADAC members are able to access insurance that is offered through American Professional Agency, Inc.  (Memebrship in NAADAC is $94.00 a year, with additional discounts for students and retired and military individuals.)  Insurance rates start at $32 and increase depending on the amount of coverage. You can call  American Professional Agency, Inc. by phone at 1-800-421-6694 x 2265 or email at mentalhealth@americanprofessional.com. NAADAC.org includes the program highlights of the CBHPSS coverage. You can also apply for the insurance right from the website. It is easy to navigate.  It is a great way to invest in yourself and the recovery movement and increase your professionalism!

A person must be certified by a VA approved peer support certification not-for-profit organization or a state approved certification organization.

It is important to remember that just meeting a state’s certification training requirement without also having the state peer specialist certification is insufficient to be approved for VA.  The law says must be certified by –

  1. a not-for-profit entity engaged in peer specialist training as having met such criteria as the Secretary shall establish for a peer specialist position; or
  2.  a State as having satisfied relevant State requirements for a peer specialist position.

Also, if a peer specialist is certified by a state entity, if that state requires periodic recertification, the peer specialist must comply with that requirement and have documentation that they are current with their certification.  Not maintaining certification could result in a change of duty assignment to non-patient care or loss of position. Montana’s Peer Network’s PS 101 course is approved by the VA and the state for certification purposes.

Click here for more information about VA certification.

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Additional information about Montana state certification is available from the
Board of Behavioral Health.