Collaborative Talk About It


Certified Peer Support Workers


The Certification of Peer Support Workers by the State of New Mexico has two primary purposes: The certification will allow peers to work within an eligible certified agency as a Community Support Worker (CSW), and be able to provide services within the agency’s Comprehensive Community Support Services (CCSS) or Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) program. The certified agency can then be paid by the state for the services provided by the Certified Peer Support Worker working as a Community Support Worker.

Federal Medicaid rules require that the state approve the certification process. The certification allows individuals to work within a certified agency to provide peer services according to very specific rules and regulations in order to enhance the recovery and resiliency of others with Severe Emotional Disorders, Severe Mental Illness and/or chronic substance abuse. Persons who have been able to “live recovery and resiliency” can help others within the frame work of agency’s CCSS or ACT programs develop the skills and attitudes they need to enhance their resiliency and recovery. The addition of the Peer Support Workers Certification process is a powerful tool that includes the peer experience as part of the public behavioral health system.

At this time, the state certification process is only for this activity. However, Individuals may provide peer services in a variety of other venues that do not require certification. These other venues can include drop-in centers, consumer driven activities, self-help groups and other consumer activities. Any person may elect to call themselves a peer support Worker. Only a person who has completed the state training and certification process can call themselves a Certified Peer Support Worker and then be credentialed as a Community Support Worker within a certified agency to provide reimbursable services within a CCSS or ACT program.


Peers are persons who have self identified themselves as consumers of mental health and/or substance abuse services. The certification process requires that peers have two year demonstrated recovery and provide written proof of their recovery.

CPSW application January 2015
State Map of Peer Specialists Locations
CPSW Code of Ethics
Contact Information

Office of Peer Recovery & Engagement

Behavioral Health Services Division, NM Human Services Department

Telephone: (505) 476-6290

Fax: (505) 476-9272

P.O. Box 2348
37 Plaza la Prensa
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504

Roles and Activities

Roles and Activities of Certified Peer Support Workers

Agency: The Certified Peer Support Workers work within the framework of a certified agency under the supervision of an independently licensed behavioral health professional within the agency’s CCSS or ACT programs as specified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (August 15, 2007). The credentialing allows a person to work in an agency as a Community Support Worker. In the role of Community Support Worker, the Certified Peer Support Workers are agency employees. As any employee their roles are often impacted by the rules and procedures of the agency.

Services: The agency will expect Community Support Worker to provide peer support services according to the approved client’s individualized Plan of Care and according to the CCSS Service definitions. The service definitions provide very specific guidelines on service activities which are individualized for the person being served. The following service lists are CCSS and ACT Peer activities as described in the CCSS service definitions that peers may provide as a member of the agency team:

Community Support Services

Comprehensive Community Support Services
  • Assistance in the development and enhancement of people’s interpersonal, community coping and functional skills including adaption to home school and work environments which includes: social skills, daily living; school and work readiness activities; education in co-occurring illness.
  • Promotion in the development and linkage of natural supports in workplace and school environments.
  • Assistance in teaching symptom monitoring and illness self management in order to identify and minimize the negative effects of symptoms which interfere with daily living and supports employment and school tenure.
  • Assistance in enhancing individuals’ abilities and skills to obtain and maintain stable housing.
  • Assistance in the development of the individual’s recovery/resiliency plan.
  • Support in crisis situations.
  • Necessary follow-up to determine if the services have adequately addressed the person’s needs.


Assertive Community Treatment (ACT)

ACT is a team based service that assists persons with severe mental illness develop the skills, knowledge, natural supports and resources to develop a rewarding life in the community. The Certified Peer Support Worker works as a member of the ACT team and assists with activities similar to those listed under Comprehensive Community Support Services (above).

Certified Peer Support Workers perform an important part of the services for individuals requiring behavioral health services. They are uniquely qualified to assist others in making personal transformations.

  • Certified Peer Support Workers have confronted issues precipitated by behavioral health disorders themselves and developed skills and abilities to build a life for themselves. Their lived experience provides a unique outlook which that recovery is possible and provides a very strong message of hope for the peer, family and other providers on the team.
  • Certified Peer Support Workers have the ability to relate to the consumers’ experiences in such a way as to significantly enhance engagement and retention activities.
  • Certified Peer Support Workers have both an understanding of a variety of recovery approaches from training and from their own lived experience of receiving services. This varied perspective enhances their ability to facilitate skill building and identify/engage natural supports.
  • Certified Peer Support Workers can personalize the behavioral health experience for the service team by expanding the team’s perspective for service assessment, planning, provision and evaluation.

Certification Process

1. Prerequisite requirements to be a Certified Peer support Specialist include:

  • 18 years of age or older.
  • Self identify as a current or former consumer of mental health and/or substance abuse services
  • Two year demonstrated recovery and provide written certification
  • High School Diploma or G.E.D.
  • Have no convictions for domestic violence, sexual offenses or other serious crimes against persons.

2. Application process:

  • Complete an application and submit it along with the $120 fee for the test (make checks payable to NMCBBHP at time of training) to the Office of Consumer Affairs. Application can be obtained from the collaborative website which can be reached: or by calling OCA at 505-476-9260
  • Give permission at the individual’s expense to do a limited criminal background check for domestic violence, sexual offenses or other serious crimes against persons.
  • Provide proof of education
  • Agree to abide by the New Mexico Certified Peer Support Worker’s Code of Ethics.

3. Training: Successfully complete the Peer Support Worker training offered through the Office of Consumer Affairs by State Approved Trainers. A schedule for the training events can be found at:

4. Certification:

  • Upon successful completion of the training the applicant must successfully complete the certification examination provided though New Mexico Credentialing Board for Behavioral Health Professionals (NMCBBHP).
  • The certification examination will be provided quarterly
  • Upon successful completion of the NMCBBHP certification examination the Peer Support Worker will be mailed a certification document from the NMCBBHP.
  • All Certified Peer Support Workers will be considered members of the NMCBBHP Board and will be asked to attend quarterly meetings. In addition, two CPSW will be selected to be a part of the Executive Board of the NMCBBHP.


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