Kaiser Permanente

Welcome to Peer Support at Kaiser Permanente

Peer Support with Certified Peer Specialists

Frequently Asked Questions

What is peer support?

Peer support happens when a person who has experienced a similar type of adversity to you serves as a source of support and encouragement in your recovery process. This person offers help based on a shared understanding of the situation at hand and has also overcome the adversity that you both share.

What are peer support services?

Peer support services is a formal name for the peer support program offered to you through your care team and are led by a Certified Peer Specialist.

What is a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS)?

  • A Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) is a person who:
    • currently or has previously received behavioral health services AND
    • is both trained and certified to offer support and assistance to help you in your recovery
  • A Certified Peer Specialist has lived through recovery from a mental health condition, substance use disorder, or both. Since they have experienced similar challenges, they are able to provide you unique support as you walk towards your own recovery.

What can a Certified Peer Specialist offer?

  • While a Certified Peer Specialist is not a doctor or a clinician, they have a unique understanding from personal experience in a situation similar to yours. Since they are part of your care team, a Certified Peer Specialist’s point of view compliments your therapist and their insight can assist you with finding and following your own recovery paths, without judgment or expectations.
  • A Certified Peer Specialist can help you with:
    • Emotional support
    • Education on recovery
    • Employment searches
    • Goal setting
    • Housing resources
    • Interpersonal skills development
    • Life skills building
    • Socialization and more

What does the relationship between you and a Certified Peer Specialist look like?

  • A Peer Support Specialist maintains a professional relationship with you based on shared experience. A Peer Support Specialist is there for you to establish a healthy interpersonal relationship.
  • Your Certified Peer Specialist is your equal. The relationship is based on trust and mutual respect. Your Certified Peer Specialist “meets you where you are” and helps you decide your personal direction for recovery.

How can you access your Certified Peer Specialist?

  • You can access your Peer Support Specialist:
    • Face-to-face
    • By telephone
    • By video conference
    • In the community

How often do I meet with my Certified Peer Specialist?

How often you meet with your Certified Peer Specialist is up to you, your care team, and your Certified Peer Specialist. Together, you and your Certified Peer Specialist will decide how often to meet, where to meet, and how to communicate that best fits your schedule.

How long does a typical peer support program with a Certified Peer Specialist last?

The time spent in your peer support program is based on an agreed-upon care and recovery plan between you and your care team.

How does my Certified Peer Specialist work with my treatment team?

Your Certified Peer Specialist will periodically review your personalized care plan with your Kaiser Permanente care team. Your care team will monitor and adjust the plan to reflect the progress that you are making in your recovery.

How is your Certified Peer Specialist different from a Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Sponsor?

  • A Certified Peer Specialist is not a counselor, nurse, clergy, or a sponsor. They are formally trained to be a Certified Peer Specialist.
  • A Certified Peer Specialist may assist you in exploring various roads to recovery whereas a NA or AA sponsor promotes a 12-step program.
  • Your Certified Peer Specialists helps you in building a personal recovery plan, access to community services, and helps you work on a personal recovery plan.

Does peer support make a difference?

Research shows that peer support is effective for supporting recovery from behavioral health conditions. Benefits of peer support can include:

  • Increased self-esteem and confidence
  • Increased sense of control and ability to bring about changes
  • Increased sense of hope and inspiration
  • Increased empathy and acceptance
  • Decreased psychotic symptoms
  • Increased engagement in self-care and wellness
  • Reduced hospital admission rates
  • Increased social support and social functioning
  • Decreased substance use and depression

What are the next steps to participate in peer support with a Certified Peer Specialist?

Your Kaiser Permanente care team has started the process to get you set up with a local Certified Peer Specialist in your area. This Certified Peer Specialist will be contacting you shortly. Be on the lookout for their phone call or email soon.