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Office of Recovery Services

The Office of Recovery Services was created though a collaborative vision towards System Transformation. Community stakeholders identified the requisite to earmark resources that would focus on expanding and enriching Virginia’s recovery support services.

The Office of Recovery Services (ORS) is staffed with persons with lived experience and self identify as being in Recovery. ORS is represented on DBHDS’s Leadership Team and is involved in developing policy and plans that support a recovery oriented system of care.

ORS serves as a liaison and promote collaboration within the peer recovery service provider community as well as provide technical assistance for recovery based and peer to peer based services. This includes services provided by and for individuals with lived experience with mental health, substance use and co-occurring issues as well as family to family peer support.

Office of Recovery Services Staff:

Becky Sterling, CPRS, QMHP

Mary McQuown, Peer Recovery Specialist Liaison

Mark Blackwell, MSA - Program Specialist


Virginia Certification Board

Peer Recovery Specialist Application

Community Innovation Funding RFP

Becky Sterling, Director of Recovery Services, 804-774-2277

Virginia provides a single Peer Recovery Specialist Certification for both Mental Health and Substance Use Conditions.

All applications must be sent to the Virginia Certification Board. The application and instructions can found here.

Virginia Certification Board Contact Information:
PO Box 27672
Richmond Va 23261
Phone: 804 741 2319
Fax: 717 540 4458

Benefits of obtaining the Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS) in Virginia include:

1. Establishes a base level of competency
2. Gives professional recognition
3. Provides requirements for ongoing professional development
4. Promotes professional and ethical practice
5. Provides reciprocity with other states who also participate with IC&RC. IC&RC is an international organization that establishes standards and testing for addition and behavioral health related credentials.

In order to acknowledge Peer Support Specialist and Peer Recovery Coaches who are actively providing services at the beginning of the Certification process Virginia will initiate a 15 month grandparenting phase beginning April 17, 2015 and ending July 17, 2016.

Minimum requirements to apply for the CPRS:

1. High school Diploma, GED, or High School Equivalency Diploma
2. Ability to demonstrate one year of recovery
3. Signed Code of Ethics
4. 500 supervised paid or volunteer experience hours in the 3 years prior to applying. (Supervisor’s written verification will be required)
5. Twenty-five of the 500 hours of experience must include supervised structured review of the person’s experience, progress, expertise and delivery of peer services within the domains of Advocacy, Mentoring, Recovery/Wellness support and the delivery of ethically responsible services. Applicant must have lived and worked or volunteered in the State of Virginia during these 500 hours.
6. If more than one Supervisor provided either of the 500 or the 25 hours each supervisor must verify the hours they provided.
7. A minimum of 46 Hours of Peer Specialist or Recovery Coach training from a Virginia Department of Behavioral Health approved training program. Training must have occurred after January 1, 2006. See Appendix for list of approved trainings. (Note: some approved programs only offered 40 hours of training. Additional hours needed to reach the required minimum of 46 must be obtained from a training provider on the approved list before submitting your grandparenting application.)

Once grandparenting of the CPRS end, the requirements will change. Effective July 16, 2016 the requirements for the CPRS will be:

1. High school Diploma, GED, or High School Equivalency Diploma
2. Ability to demonstrate one year of recovery in order to role model the reality of recovery
3. 500 supervised paid or volunteer experience hours in the 3 years prior to applying. Twenty-five of the 500 hours of experience must include verification by all supervisors of those 500 hours of the supervisor’s structured review of the person’s experience, progress, expertise and delivery of peer services within the domains of Advocacy, Mentoring, Recovery/Wellness support and the delivery of ethically responsible services.
4. Applicants must live and work/volunteer in the State of Virginia at the time of application for Certification
5. Completion of the Virginia Peer Recovery Specialist Curriculum that covers 90 Hours of training with-in the content areas listed in the Appendix. Training must be provided by a Virginia DBHDS approved trainer. An approved list of trainers will be available on the DBHDS and VCB websites.
6. Signed Code of Ethics
7. Successful completion of the CPRS examination.


Certification must be renewed every two years with written documentation of successful completion of 20 contact hours of education that include six hours in ethics plus any training in the content areas listed in the Appendix I.
People who were certified during the grandparenting phase will need to complete a State sponsored MHSA Refresher training. This training will count towards the required 20 hours needed for recertification.


Content Areas/Base Hours of Training

1. Current Body of MH/SA Knowledge
a) MH and SA Recovery definitions
b) Introduction to diagnostic terminology
c) Overview of substance use disorders
d) Overview of mental health disorders
e) Historical MH/SA roots and history (including recovery movements)
f) Current research in MH and SA

2. Recovery Process - Promoting Services, Supports, and Strategies
a) Models/pathways (12 steps, SMART recovery)
b) Process
c) Practice based evidence
d) Intentional peer support
e) Strengths based and person centered approaches
f) Alternatives (such as acupuncture)
g) Recovery plans and recovery goal setting (such as WRAP, Relapse Prevention Plan)

3. Crisis Intervention
a) Appropriate role/activities for peer support
b) Legal/ethical responsibilities
c) Advanced Directives
d) Relapse Prevention and WRAP plans

4. Values for Role of Recovery Support Specialist
a) How to provide strength- based, mutual recovery support with unconditional and positive regard
b) How to share experiences and use your story/lived experience as recovery support (a tool to teach
concepts & recognize one’s own strengths)

5. Basic Principles Related to Health and Wellness
a) Overview of concepts (10 X 10 Wellness Campaign)
b) Definitions of health, wellness
c) World Health Organization definitions
d) Holistic health
e) Impact of MH/SA on experience of health and wellness

6. Stage Appropriate Pathways in Recovery Support
a) Stages of Change (stages of recovery)
b) Withdrawal/Detoxification
c) Overdose
d) Medications (medication intelligence) and Side Effects
e) 5 – 6 stages of MH recovery
f) Understanding and Working with Imputed Power Differential

7. Ethics & Boundaries
a) Code of ethics
b) Confidentiality
d) 42 CFR
e) Advanced Directives
f) Sexual Harassment
g) Healthy and Unhealthy Environments
h) Self Care
i) Codependency
j) Relationships with Other Professionals

8. Cultural Sensitivity and Practice
a) Defining culture, elements of culture, and impact
b) Person First/Person Centered language
c) Types of Cultures (mainstream and others)
d) Recovery Language and Culture (such as NA, sponsor, SA coach, peer support, MH support)
e) Influence of Cultural Heritage on Individuals and Groups
f) Influence of Cultural Identity in Communication Dynamics.
g) How Cultural Identity Shapes the Helping Process.

9. Trauma and Impact on Recovery
a) Overview of Trauma (definition, types, etc.)
b) Trauma Informed Care and Recovery Support
c) PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)
d) Military Culture/Experience and Trauma
e) Traumatic injuries
f) Sexual abuse and rape
g) Self Evaluation of Capacity and Ability to Interact with Others
h) Awareness and Sensitivity when Working with Others
i) Impact on Recovery Process
j) Self Care and Supervision

10. Community Resources No less than five (5) hours
a) Identifying community resources (including crisis services)
b) Accessing and referring to community resources
c) Coaching others to navigate community resources
d) Building partnerships with community resources

11. Delivering Peer Services Within Agencies and Organizations
a) Overview of Virginia’s Service Delivery Systems
b) Peer Support Within an Organizational Culture and Requirements
c) Documentation to Meet Organizational Requirements
d) Working with a Clinical Team
e) Use of Supervision
f) Advocacy for Peers and Recovery Support Services Within the Organizational Culture

Principle: Recovery First
My primary obligation and responsibility is my recovery. I will immediately seek outside counsel and if applicable, notify my supervisor if alcohol, drug use, mental illness or anything else gets in the way of my recovery.

Principle: Sharing Personal Recovery Story
I will share my lived experiences to help others identify resources and supports that promote recovery and resilience.

Principle: Service Approach
I affirm the rights and dignity of each person that I serve.

The services I provide will be guided by the principle of self-determination to assist others in achieving their needs and goals. This includes advocating for the decisions of the peers regarding professional and other services.

I will advocate for the right of peers to self-select their own recovery pathways and recovery communities and will promote the individual’s inherent value to those communities and pathways.

Principle: Confidentiality
I respect the privacy of those I serve and I will abide by confidentiality guidelines as required by the law.

Principle: Non-Discrimination
I provide recovery support services regardless of someone’s age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, political belief, language, socioeconomic status or mental or physical condition. If differences that impact the motivation for recovery occur, I seek consultation and, if necessary, make referral to another Certified Peer Specialist.

Principle: Conduct
I act in accordance with the law.

I never use physical force, verbal or emotional abuse; intimidate, threaten, harass, or make unwarranted promises of benefits.

I will fairly and accurately represent myself and my capabilities to the peer and the community.

I will not accept money or items of significant value from people that I serve.

I will not lend or borrow from the peers that I serve.

I will not engage in sexual activities or intimate relations with peers that I serve.

I will not engage in sexual activities or sexual contact with former clients within a minimum of two years after terminating services.

I will not provide services to individuals with whom I have had a prior sexual or intimate relationship.

Principle: Integrity
I will not discontinue services to a peer without his or her knowledge and will make a referral for continued services when appropriate.

I will report violations of the Code of Ethics by other Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialists to the appropriate certifying entity.

Principle: Conflict of Interest
I will not use my role as a CPRSS to promote any treatment, procedure, product or service, which would result in my personal gain.

Principle: Scope of Practice
I will not perform services outside of my area of training, expertise, competence, or scope of practice.

Principle: Personal Development
I will improve my recovery service knowledge and skills through ongoing education, training and supervision.

DBHDS Approved Peer Support Training List

Virginia Peer Recovery Specialist Certification



Training Name

The Appalachian Consulting Training Program

Region IV Peer Specialist Training (Betsy Brown/Carla Beck/Virginia McGill) 

The Georgia Certified Peer Specialist Project

The Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery Coach Academy

Roads to Recovery Peer Leadership Institute

SAARA Center of Virginia pre- April 2015

SAARA Center of Virginia post April 2015

Middle Peninsula Northern Neck Consumer Operated Program Training (MPNN CoOP 90 Hour)

Recovery Innovations of Virginia 

The Depression Bi-Polar Support Alliance Peer Specialist Training (DBSA)

DBSA Veteran Peer Specialist Training and Certification

Peer Support Specialist Training International Association of Peer Specialists (NAPS)

Chesapeake Community Services Board Chesapeake, Virginia

Spirit Works Peer Training

The Institute for Recovery and Community Integration (also referred to as “the Pennsylvania Model”)

The Virginia Human Services Peer Training (VHST) After 2006

(6 to 8 Weeks, minimum 46 hours related to Providing Peer Services)

The Institute for Recovery and Community Integration Training Program

Any Peer Recovery Specialist Certification that is recognized by IC and RC following their guidelines for reciprocity


DBHDS approved peer support training must meet the following criteria:


Effective 4/17/2015 trainings must offer a Minimum 46 Hours.

Training Programs established prior to 4/17/2015 must have offered a minimum of 40 hours. Students will need to take an       additional 6 hours of approved training in order to meet Virginia Certification Board requirements.*

Curriculum must meet Virginia Certification Board criteria and have minimally taught in the following topic areas

a.       Current Body of MH/SA Knowledge

b.      Recovery Process - Promoting Services, Supports, and Strategies

c.       Crisis Intervention

d.      Values for Role of Recovery Support Specialist

e.      Basic Principles Related to Health and Wellness

f.        Stage Appropriate Pathways in Recovery Support

g.       Ethics & Boundaries

h.      Cultural Sensitivity and Practice

i.        Trauma and Impact on Recovery

j.        Community Resources

k.       Delivering Peer Services Within Agencies and Organizations


Peer Support Training Programs who feel they meet the above requirements and wish to be included on this list may submit a request to:

Becky Sterling, Director Office of Recovery Services


* Peer Recovery Supporters who, prior to April 17, 2015, have satisfactorily completed a 40 hour  DBHDS approved training will be required to complete additional hours to reach a total of 46. The additional 6 hours must be provided from training programs on this list.