A peer support provider is an individual with a life-altering lived experience of psychiatric or substance use challenges who has made a personal commitment to his or her own recovery and has a desire to use what was learned from one’s own lived experiences to assist others with similar challenges.

Having a life-altering lived experience alone does not make someone a peer support provider. Peer support providers receive very specific training (determined on a state-by-state, or country-by-country basis) on using personal experiences to inspire hope, support someone in taking personal responsibility,and promote better self-awareness, self-determination, self-advocacy, and a sense of empowerment in those receiving recovery support services.

In 2012, the National Association of Peer Specialist (NAPS) embarked upon an inclusive process, with assistance from a panel convened by SAMHSA, to establish Practice Standards for the emerging profession of Peer Support, as a first step in a possible national credential.

Following a series of national focus groups and surveys, in which over 1000 peer support providers participated, 98% agreed with the core values and practice guidelines, which were published in the summer of 2013 as the National Practice Guidelines for Peer Supporters.