Peer Support


What are peer support specialists?

Peer support specialists bring hope by sharing their experiences and promoting a sense of belonging.Peer support has existed in the behavioral health field for decades; however, its rapid growth in recent years in due to the increasing evidence supporting its effectiveness. Peer support specialist use their experience to:

  • Establish positive rapport.
  • Serve as a pro-social model.
  • Offer insight to the individual’s care team.
  • Provide support focused on advocacy, coaching, and mentoring.
Peer support is effective, and can:
  • Improve quality of life.
  • Improve whole health, including conditions like diabetes.
  • Improve engagement and satisfaction with services and supports.
  • Decrease hospitalizations and inpatient stays.
  • Reduce health care costs.
Recovery is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.
  • Health: Choices that support one’s overall well-being.
  • Home: A safe and stable place to live.
  • Purpose: Meaningful daily activities, such as job, school, or volunteering.
  • Community: Relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship and love.

Thank you for your interest in applying to be a Certified Peer Support Specialist in North Dakota. We are grateful that you want to share your personal lived experiences to benefit others. Below are the steps to certification.

  1. Verify that you meet the eligibility requirements 
  2. Complete the application, including all required attachments.
  3. Mail a $50 check or money order to:
    North Dakota Behavioral Health Division
    Dept 325-Judicial Wing
    Bismarck, ND 58505-0250.
    Please include the name of the applicant on the check or money order.

Please use the attached templates for recommendations, statements and verification of peer support service hours:

Code of Ethics

If you like more info on the application process please view the Peer Support Certification Webinar.


Who can become a Certified Peer Support Specialist?

Anyone living or working in North Dakota, who is over the age of 18, self-identifies as an individual in recovery from a mental health disorder, substance use disorder, brain injury, or any combination thereof: or a family member who has personal lived experience with an individual with a mental health disorder, substance use disorder, brain injury, or any combination thereof and has completed the education and training requirements. Please see the checklist for certification eligibility document for full eligibility requirements.

How long does it take to process my certification application?

Please allow up to 30 business days for your application for certification to be processed and for you to receive notification.

How do I know if my peer support training program is division approved?

If you completed a training other than the training program offered through the North Dakota Department of Human Services, Behavioral Health Division, please submit your certificate of completion along with the curriculum objectives and any other accompanying materials to

I am certified in another state, will I automatically be certified in North Dakota?

No, you will still need to complete the application process for certification for North Dakota.

What is the difference between a CPSS I and a CPSS II?

A Certified Peer Support Specialist II is a peer support specialist who has 1500 hours of direct service hours as a peer support specialist and can serve as supervisor for a CPSS I.

How can I verify my direct service hours working as a peer support specialist?

Please submit the "Hours Verification” form. A supervisor from the agency or agencies where you provided direct services will need to review and provide and their contact information on the form. Please review the template for verification of direct service hours for more information.

If I don’t have my High School diploma or GED how do I demonstrate an ability to read and write at a level proficient enough for training, documentation, and the type of work peer support will require?

By completing the application and writing a personal statement, your ability to read, write and document at a level proficient for peer support work will be shown.

I’m applying for certification as a family member. I’m struggling with how to apply the word “recovery” to my personal statement.

The definition of recovery used by the Behavioral Health Division, as found in NDCC 75-03-43-01.6 states, “Recovery” means a process of change through which individuals improve the individual’s health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach the individual’s potential.” Your personal statement should include information detailing how you have supported your family member’s recovery process for a year or longer. This does not require that your family member has remained in recovery for a year or longer, rather identifying how you have supported that family member’s recovery process for a year. If you have further questions, please contact

What if I work for an organization in Minnesota/Montana/South Dakota, can I still be certified?

If your agency services North Dakota residents, you are eligible for certification in North Dakota. Please answer this application question as “yes” under Part III Eligibility Criteria that states, “Do you work for or have a job offer at an organization that services North Dakota residents?”

Do I have to use the templates provided for the reference letters, personal statement and verification of peer support service hours?

Yes, please use these templates, it ensures that we receive all required components per administrative rule.

Once I am certified, how do I get a job as a Peer Support Specialist?

As a certified peer support specialist, you will want to keep in contact with local organizations, search job postings and follow the North Dakota Peer Support group on Facebook. The Behavioral Health Division will provide a list of certified peer support specialists in North Dakota to any employer that requests this information.

If I need help with my certification application, or have questions who can I reach out to?

Please email

The CPSS II application references a division-approved peer support supervision training. Is this available?

Please check the upcoming trainings link for the next Peer Support Supervision Training session. If one is not listed, that means we are in the planning phase of scheduling the next one. If you have taken a different peer support supervision training please submit your certificate of completion or verification along with the curriculum objectives and any other accompanying materials to and we can verify if it qualifies as a division-approved training. If you attended the Peer Support Supervision training at the Behavioral Health Conference in 2019, that is also a division approved training. Feel free to email if you have trouble locating verification of attendance at the conference training.

I am currently a CPSS I, how do I obtain certification for CPSS II?

If you have verification of 1500 hours of direct peer support hours and you have taken a Peer Support Supervision training, you will need to re-apply for certification as a CPSS II. If it has been more than 30 days since you were certified as a CPSS I, you will need to pay the $50 certification fee again.


Want to network with other peer support specialists? Contact Kristy Johnson at