What is a CPRS?
CPRS stands for Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (sometimes referred to as a ‘Peer Navigator’ or ‘Recovery Coach’). A CPRS is a person with lived experience dealing with mental health challenges and/or substance use disorders who has received specialized training to work with their Peers. Their role is to meet people ‘where they are’ and walk alongside an individual providing problem solving skills, coping skills, hope, and education on wellness and recovery.
Benefits of CPRS Services
Studies indicate having a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist as part of the workforce helps in the following ways:
Reduced hospitalization and reduced number of days spent as inpatient
Decreased use of emergency rooms
Reduced substance use among persons with co-occurring substance use disorders or mental health challenges.
A decrease in participants; level of distressing symptoms and symptoms overall.
Decreased experience of depression.
Increased the degree to which participants felt their care was responsive and inclusive of non-treatment issues.
Additional sense of control and ability to bring about changes in their lives.
Increased sense of hope and degree of engagement in managing their challenges, degree of satisfaction with family life, positive feelings about themselves and their lives, social support, and sense of community belonging.
Enlarged social networks and enhanced quality of life.
Superior outcomes in terms of engagement of “difficult to reach” people.
What is the Role of a CPRS?
PROVIDE EDUCATION ON WELLNESS & RECOVERY
Facilitate peer-to-peer evidence-based practices or best establish and maintain a peer relationship based on mutuality rather than a hierarchical relationship.
Facilitate non-clinical peer-to-peer recovery education and wellness coaching through group activities or one on one. Utilize and inform on topics such as stress management, healthy leisure activities, alternative treatment options, self-affirmation, recovery, and wellness.
ACCOMPANY PEOPLE THROUGH INTAKE & DISCHARGE PROCESS
Accompany people through the behavioral health service intake process and the discharge process, with person-to-person, face-to-face follow up after discharge. Help people identify and implement service exit strategies.
Provide outreach to people who have frequent in-patient experiences. Provide outreach to people who have been reluctant to engage with the behavioral health system.
Enhance the patient's ability to navigate the systems of service related to the person’s written wellness-recovery plan or individual service plan.
SUPPORT VOCATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL CHOICES
Support the vocational and education choices of peers and assist them in developing strategies for overcoming education or job-related behavioral and health challenges.
Share effective strategies for developing coping skills and wellness tools.
CLARIFY & ENHANCE
Encourage Peers to develop independent behavior that is based on informed choice; assisting peers in developing empowerment skills through self-advocacy.
HAVE A MUTUAL RELATIONSHIP
Establish and maintain a peer relationship based on mutuality rather than a hierarchical relationship; partner to facilitate recovery dialogues and evidence-based and best practices methods.
MENTOR COMMUNITY INTEGRATION
Provide community networking and linkage with social, recreational, spiritual, educational or vocational resources. Assist the person in identifying community based support that sustains a healthy life style. Provide opportunities to practice socialization, interaction, and engagement abilities in the community. Support, encourage, and enhance the development of natural support systems.
Assist in the development of a community integration plan that sets milestones for an increased independent community involvement, showing a decrease of dependency on the CPRS.
Support integration/reintegration into a positive community.
Assist other behavioral healthcare service providers in identifying program and service environments that are conducive to recovery.
Suggested Characteristics of a Qualified Peer Recovery Specialist
While lived experience of having mental health challenges or substance use disorders are one of the requirements for working in this field, the following characteristics should also be present:
Open-minded and accepting of themselves and others
Flexible and adaptable
Willing to grow and continue learning
Mindful and able to be in the present
Talented at seeing strengths in others
Able to react in a mutual manner with peers
(As stated in the Peer Recovery Specialist Training Manual developed by the VA Office of Recovery Services)