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Office of Recovery Services

Information for Providers

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, Director:
Mary J, McQuown, CPRS, Peer Recovery Specialist Liaison:

RECOVERY BLAST – Would you like to be included in Office of Recovery Services' periodic "Recovery Blast" email distribution list? Click here to send us your request to be included on timely emails on about recovery-oriented events and trainings, job openings, information on evidence-based practices, and other important information.

In December 2013, The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) Creating Opportunities Peer Workforce Development stakeholder group submitted recommendations specifying the required knowledge, skills and abilities for Certified Peer Recovery Specialists in Virginia. The recommendations set forth evolved from the extraordinary research, knowledge, and effort of a large number of people over the previous eight to ten years.
Most members of the DBHDS Commissioner’s advisory group had personal experience with mental health or substance abuse. Others had experience with the current system of behavioral healthcare delivery. Some had both personal experience and system experience. Some had been hospitalized multiple times; others had experience with the justice system. Some were in recovery from multiple addictions and others knew what it was like to experience negative fallout from traumatic events in their lives. Some had been certified by programs across the United States, others had been trained by programs within the state of Virginia. Some had been trainers; others had been trained. Some were employed; some were hoping to become employed. Some called themselves Peer Recovery Coaches, others called themselves Peer Specialists and yet others identified as Recovery Specialists.

What they shared was a conviction that recovery is possible for everyone. They also shared a dream of a training and certification process that would unify, legitimize, and facilitate payment for the services of people in recovery supporting other people seeking recovery. They shared the conviction that the basic relationship skills needed to provide peer recovery support were the same if you were talking about addiction recovery or mental health recovery. They shared the conviction that people in recovery make a difference when holding the hope of recovery for other people.

This group of pioneers coined the title: “Certified Peer Recovery Specialist” as best representing the unified approach to peer support that mirrored emerging research and their own personal experience that people frequently struggled with both addiction and mental health challenges. They merged the “Recovery Coach” title most familiar to the SA recovery community and the “Peer Specialist” title most familiar to the MH recovery communities.

A major focus of the Office of Recovery Services is the implementation of the Virginia Peer Recovery Certification process recommended by the Creating Opportunities advisory team along with the input and consultation of our valued stakeholders that have helped us along every step of the way.


About the Virginia Peer Recovery Certification Process

Information about the Virginia Certification Board

Virginia Certification Board Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Application

CPRS Practice Guidelines

CPRS Scope of Knowledge

CPRS Code of Ethics


DBHDS-approved CPRS Trainers as of February 2017


The Office of Recovery Services facilitates peer support among Peer Recovery Specialists (PRS) that serve special populations. We currently convene regular meetings, either in person or by conference call, to discuss challenges and successes. We also use these opportunities to provide training in order to fulfill our commitment to develop the PRS workforce. Among the groups that currently meet are:

  • DBHDS State Facility Based PRS serving individuals in Virginia state hospitals and mental health institutes
  • Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) and Crisis Stabilization PRS
  • Coordinated Specialty Care PRS serving youth and young adults experiencing their first episode of psychosis
  • Veteran PRS with lived experience in military life

ORS also has support networks in the works for PRS in Assertive Community Treatment programs (known in Virginia as Programs of Assertive Community Treatment, or PACT), and those providing support to families with children who have mental health challenges.  Check back soon for updates!

If you would like to participate in one of these groups, or if you have any suggestions for other groups, please contact Mary McQuown in the Office of Recovery Services by email at  

ORS Community Innovations Funding Request for Proposals

DBHDS provides Community Innovations Funding to support the influence of innovative programs offered by peer-run programs throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Funds are to be used to support innovative programs that will support the development of Peer Specialists, to promote increased awareness of recovery possibilities for people who have experienced mental illness, addiction, or a combination of both, or to contribute to mental health service delivery systems in becoming recovery-focused.  Independent peer-run programs may request from $500 to $5,000 in one-time awards.  For more information and to apply for funds, please start by downloading our Community Innovations Funding Application.

Virginia Organization of Consumers Asserting Leadership (VOCAL):  Peers Speaking Up for Mental Health. Together.

Mission: To create a climate in Virginia where peers are empowered to understand and find their own recovery through programs that achieve: a) personal transformation, b) community transformation, and c) systems transformation. 

Substance Abuse and Addiction Recovery Alliance (SAARA) of Virginia:  Advocacy, Community, Recovery. Unlimited Potential. Mission: to celebrate, support and advocate for resources and services for the prevention of and recovery from substance abuse and addiction. SAARA promotes social, educational, legal, research and health care resources and services that support accessible, effective and accountable addictions: prevention, intervention, treatment and Recovery.  

NAMI Virginia National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Virginia Chapter

Mission: To promote recovery and improve the quality of life of Virginians with serious mental illness through support, education, and advocacy. We envision a world where all people affected by mental illness get the help, hope, and support that they need.  

Mental Health America of Virginia (MHAV)

Mission: To educate, empower and advocate on behalf of individuals, communities and organizations to improve mental health and reduce the conditions which impede mental wellness. 

Virginia Veteran and Family Support Program (VVFS)

Works to ensure that Virginia Veterans do not slip through the cracks and that adequate and timely assessment, treatment, and support are available to promote resilience and recovery. 

Community Coalitions of Virginia: Partnering for Healthy Communities Across the State

Mission: works collaboratively to prevent and reduce substance abuse and related risk factors in Virginia communities in ways that are measurable and that improve quality of life. 

Virginia Family Network:  NAMI Virginia’s initiative for parents who have children and youth with mental health needs. 

Youth MOVE Virginia:  NAMI Virginia’s initiative for youth and young adults.   

Voices for Virginia’s Children

Mission: To champion public policies that improve the lives of Virginia’s children.

New Found Families:  Advocates for the needs of all foster, adoptive and kinship families in Virginia.

Virginia Recovery Initiative – Brining Recovery Supports to Scale

In 2011, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) launched the Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS TACS) to promote the widespread adoption of recovery-oriented supports, services, and systems for people in recovery from substance use and/or mental health conditions. In 2012, Virginia received a SAMHSA grant which supported the development of a statewide team of stakeholders that would champion efforts to emphasize the value of people’s lived experience of recovery from substance use and mental health conditions. The project sustains a significant and meaningful focus on people in recovery in all aspects of project development, leadership, and implementation. Recovery advocates meet in each region around the Commonwealth to develop community based strategies to expand the “recovery footprint” in their areas.  The Office of Recovery Services coordinates the Recovery Action Focus Team (RAFT), a statewide team that meets regularly to develop strategies that are more focused on creating and measuring a Recovery Oriented System of Care for Virginia. For information of how to become a Recovery Advocate in your region, or for information on DBHDS's statewide strategies, please contact Becky Sterling, ORS Director, at