Accelerating Best Practices in Peer Support Around the World

Train Peer Supporters

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Featured Training Resources

Peers for Progress aims to provide training resources for peer support programs around the globe. Below are some training materials that have been provided by our global affiliates and grantees. Underneath these featured resources, please check out the general overview of training and the different training modules.

IDF Peer Leader Manual – A manual by Tricia Tang and Martha Funnell to train peer supporters to provide ongoing diabetes self-management support.

PfP Grantee – ENCOURAGE Project in Alabama, USA: Two 8-hour training sessions

PfP Grantee – Puentes Project in California, USA: 40-hour training sessions

PfP Grantee – Australasian Peers for Progress Project in Australia: 2.5 day training

PfP Grantee – UCSF Health Coach Training in California, USA: 36-hours, 2 weeks

Grantee – PEARL in Hong Kong: 32-hour “train-the-trainer” workshops

Peer Leader Demonstration Project in Nanjing: 7-day training


Featured Quality Assurance Resources

Quality assurance in peer support programs is a crosscutting issue that affects individual peer supporters, program staff, host organizations, and public policy. In recent years, a popular approach to quality assurance has been the certification of individual peer supporters through approved training agencies. Certification is useful in assuring that individuals are qualified to serve as peer supporters. It can standardize training in core competencies, elevate the social standing of peer supporters, and open up opportunities for better reimbursement.

Accreditation of organizations that host peer support programs is another approach to quality assurance that complements certification of individuals. Accreditation is an evaluation and approval process for organizations to deliver a specific type of services or set of services. In many ways, accreditation is like a “seal of excellence” that an organization can obtain in demonstrating quality, value, and optimal outcomes.

Currently, there are no national standards in place for quality assurance of peer supporters and peer support programs. Instead, standards for training and certification are being established at the state level. The two main tracks in state certification are for mental health peer specialists and community health workers.

In the tables below, you will find a selection of resources on the certification of mental health peer specialists and community health workers. Peers for Progress shares these resources to help readers understand the current regulatory landscape and encourages the development of complementary quality assurance methods.


Overview on Training and Certifying Peer Supporters

Basics of CHW Credentialing Brief This document summarizes the pros and cons of credentialing (i.e., certification, licensing, and registration), and opportunities and challenges in state credentialing of CHWs.
Peer Specialist Training and Certification Programs: A National Overview Review This exhaustive overview provides detailed information on peer specialist training and certification guidelines for every state.
Learning From CHW Certification and Credentialing Models Across the United States Video Presentation This 1-hour webcast was the keynote presentation at the 4th Annual CHW Annual Conference. This online course is a great introduction to CHW certification and credentialing processes.
A Summary of State CHW Laws Brief To understand how states are using law as a tool to develop sustainable CHW programs, this fact sheet summarizes the extent to which states have enacted laws addressing CHW infrastructure, professional identity, workforce development, and financing.
State CHW Certification Programs Toolkit This module of the RAC Community Health Worker Toolkit provides an overview and links to resources for state CHW certification programs.
A National Survey of CHW Training and Certification  Programs Study This study analyzed trends and various approaches to professional development in selected CHW training and certification programs.


CHW Training and Certification

Do CHWs Need Formal Training and Certification? Study Mark Siemon, at the University of New Mexico, presents the findings of his study on how CHWs and their voluntary training program were being received in New Mexico.
CHW Evidence-Based Models Toolbox Toolkit Developed by the Office of Rural Health Policy, this guide shares evidence-based models for CHWs in rural communities. Training approaches and state certification is covered in Module 3.
Update on Certification of CHWs in Massachusetts Presentation This presentation was delivered at the 4th Annual Patient Navigator/CHW Conference. It provides insights into the process of establishing CHW certification in the state of Massachusetts.
CHW Policy Initiatives: State and National Perspectives Presentation This presentation was delivered at the 3rd Annual Patient Navigator/CHW Conference. It identifies recent policy initiatives at the state and federal levels designed to promote CHWs.
CHW Workforce Development Certification in Massachusetts Presentation In this presentation, delivered at the CHW Best Practices Conference, Joanne Calista talks about the decision-making process behind the development of CHW certification in Massachusetts and walks us through a timeline of important advocacy actions.
Minnesota CHW Education and Certification Website Minnesota is the only state in the US with a statewide competency-based CHW educational program based in accredited post-secondary schools. You can find more information about the MN certificate program on this website.


Peer Support Specialist Training and Certification

VA Peer Specialist Website These FAQs for peer support applicants helps them understand the training, certification, and hiring process in the Veterans Health Administration.
DBSA Peer Specialist Training Website The Depression and Bipolar Alliance is a leader in training for the peer specialist workforce, and many states recognize DBSA training for certification purposes. More information is available on this website.
NAPS Peer Specialist Training Manuals Manual These manuals, published by the National Association of Peer Specialists, are excellent resources for those wishing to know more about how to provide effective peer support. Material from these publications has been used to create peer specialist training programs across the country.
Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Program: Handbook of Guidelines Standards and Procedures Manual This document defines the role, purpose, functions, and responsibilities of the Certified Peer Recovery Specialist in Tennessee and establishes a fair methodology for evaluation of competency.
Georgia Certified Peer Specialist Project Website This project trains, certifies, and provides ongoing support and education to consumers of mental health services. It provides peer support as part of the Georgia mental health service system.
Illinois Model for Mental Health Certified Recovery Support Specialist Website This website provides information on the Illinois model for peer support specialists, including the credentialing process and competency standards.



Key Steps for Training Peer Supporters


The figure below summarizes key steps for training peer supporters. This basic outline is drawn from the experiences and lessons learned of other peer support programs, particularly from Peers for Progress Grantees in Alabama, California and Michigan.

This section deals with Step 2: Design training content and approach and Step 3: Develop plans for evaluating training outcomes and ongoing training. Additionally, we provide Examples of training curriculum and agendas. For information on prerequisites and Step 1: Describe peer supporter’s roles and responsibilities, click here.

For more details designing and evaluating training content, please view these seminar slides from the 2011 & 2012 Annual Meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM).


You can contact the presenters, who are also Peers for Progress grantees, for more information:

Andrea Cherrington, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Alabama, Birmingham

Tricia Tang, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia

Guadalupe X. Ayala, PhD, MPH, Professor, Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University



Step 1: Describe Peer Supporters' Roles and Responsibilities

See the Start a Program page for more details.


Step 2: Design Training Content and Approach

General Training Materials Outline

The table below outlines the key components for developing peer support training curriculum and approaches. Resources are broken into two parts: Knowledge & Competencies (5 units), and Training Approaches. The materials for each unit are found underneath. Feel free to adapt and incorporate these units into your peer support training curriculum as you see fit. Depending your unique circumstances, it may not be necessary or feasible to develop a curriculum that addresses all of the topics given here.

Part 1: Knowledge and Competencies
Unit 1: Disease Specific Information
General Background of Disease


General Background of Disease

Understanding the basic foundation of disease is an essential component of an effective peer supporter. A peer supporter’s knowledge base should cover what the disease is, how the disease can impact an individual, and the key behaviors linked to that disease. These key behaviors include self-care behaviors that aid in self-management of an illness, such as healthy eating or physical activity.

General Diabetes Information and AADE Self-Care Behaviors


Stress Coping and Emotional Management


Stress Management

Stress is a normal part of life that can cause changes to both the emotions and bodies of people with chronic conditions. Too much negative stress can cause harmful changes in blood sugar and blood pressure, so effective coping with stress is very important to feel good and avoid health complications.

Stress Management Resources



Depression refers to persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Depressive emotions can be a short-term response to stress or a chronic condition. People with diabetes are at greater risk for depression than people living without diabetes.

Depression Resources


Unit 2: Communication and Support Skills
Effective Communication Skills

Effective Communication Skills

Communication encompasses all ways in which information is relayed to others, and includes fundamental techniques such as active listening, sharing stories, as well as other skills like facilitation and coaching. Being an effective communicator is central to a strong peer support relationship, as well as to effective patient provider communication. These skills help build rapport, understanding, and trust between peers.

Active listening is a fundamental communication technique that involves strategic listening and responses to improve mutual understanding, openness, and honesty.

Active Listening Resources:

  • Tip sheet on active listening: “The Art of Active Listening” from the National Aging Information and Referral Support Center.
  • Tricia Tang’s Manual for Peer Leaders: pp 18 for active listening

Sharing stories is a fundamental skill that involves sharing experiences and stories from one’s own life. It is a good way to provide support in one-on-one settings and is a particularly important part of some cultures.

Sharing Stories Resources

Facilitation skills are needed to effectively impart information, guide discussion, and encourage dialogue in both one-on-one and group support settings. Effective facilitation skills help peer supporters better serve people by influencing and guiding others toward lasting behavior change.

Facilitation Skills Resources:

Coaching skills are designed to help people understand and navigate their self-care plan to become a better health consumer. They can alleviate the problems of patients not understanding and/or not agreeing with clinicians’ advice, and can help ensure people are receiving the highest quality of care possible.

Coaching Skills Resources:


Support Skills


Support Skills

Providing support is essential to anyone in a peer support role, including peer supporters, health educators, and health care professionals. There are two fundamental forms of support: non-directive and directive. In many cases, a peer supporter would need to use non-directive support. Other support skills that may be useful to peer supporters include motivation building, stage-based advising, and decision-making.

Non-Directive Support involves allowing a person to deal with what is important to them at their own pace, rather than leading or directing them to change. It allows people to identify their own problem behaviors that need to be changed, which can help a person feel more in control of their self-management care routine. Non-directive support can both empower and encourage an individual.

Non-Directive Support Resources:

  • The Lay Health Educator Manual of the Move More Diabetes Project has slides on Directive and Nondirective Support on pages 25-33 of the manual.
  • Empowerment is when an individual feels they have the power and self-confidence to make changes and take control of their illness.Empowered individuals are able to manage their illness better and often experience a better quality of life.
  • Encouragement includes words and actions that may motivate people toward behavior change or overcome fears, challenges, and burnout related to self-management of an illness.

Building Motivation is the ability to first recognize where a person may be in terms of behavioral change, and then provide encouragement and guidance to individual decision-making in order to strengthen their motivation for change. Building motivation is often person-centered and collaborative, and can help people with a chronic disease make lasting behavioral changes. This set of skills is often based on common counseling techniques such as Motivational Interviewing and Stage-based advising derived from the Transtheoretical Model.


Unit 3: Assistance in Self-Care Behaviors
Individual Assessment


Individual Assessment

Involves collecting, reviewing, interpreting, and using information for the purpose of setting goals and developing an action plan. Assessment helps health care providers, health educators, and peer supporters understand the self-management status of a person with chronic illness, and helps set appropriate behavioral goals for improved self-management.

Individual Assessment Resources


Setting SMART Goals


Setting SMART Goals

Involves choosing something Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART) to change or achieve. For people with chronic illness, goals can be both short and long term. Goal setting is important for people to live longer and healthier lives with their condition.

SMART Goals Resources

  • The California Health Care Foundation offers handouts in English and Spanish called “My Diabetes Plan” that can be used by peer supporters in assisting with goal setting.


Making an Action Plan


Making an Action Plan

Refers to day-to-day plans, goals, and activities that help achieve long-term goals. Action planning can help people with chronic illness change unhealthy behaviors and better manage their condition.

Action Planning Resources

  • Action planning forms are available from The Center for Excellence in Primary Care at the University of California, San Francisco.
  • The California Health Care Foundation offers handouts in English and Spanish called “My Diabetes Plan” that can be used by peer supporters in assisting with creating an action plan.


Problem Solving

Problem Solving

Is an important step to active self-management of chronic illness. Obstacles in chronic care management are encountered every day, so it is very important to know how to find solutions for unexpected problems. Solving problems, no matter how large or small they are, involves clear-headed thinking and determination.

Problem Solving Resources


Unit 4: Linking to Health Care and Community Resources
Linking to Health Care Resources


Linking to Health Care Resources

Linking to Health Care is an important role of peer supporters in aiding an individual’s management of chronic disease. Regular visits with a health care provider can help monitor an individual’s condition and find and treat problems based on an assessment of their health. Furthermore, routine health care can help outline steps for reaching self-management goals. The role of peer supporters is distinct and does not replace the role of professional health care providers in care. Peer support complements and supplements primary care services to a person with chronic disease. By linking an individual to regular health care, a peer supporter can help a person with chronic illness work with an expert provider to improve their health.

Linking to Health Care Resources

  • The Living with Diabetes guide to doctor visits is a resource for people with diabetes sponsored by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation’s Diabetes Initiative.
  • Importance of Doctor Visits is a handout for people with diabetes in both English and Spanish from the Migrant Clinicians Network.
  • Patient-provider communication is essential to effective care of chronic illness and accurate identification of any problems that may arise.
    • Active listening and other communication skills discussed previously (LINK) help establish and strengthen relationships between doctors and patients.
    • Increasing the Public’s Awareness is a commentary about the importance of patient-provider communication found in the North Carolina Medical Journal.
    • This 2007 research article provides a qualitative overview of communication issues important to people with diabetes when interacting with their physician.
    • The Partnership for Clear Health Communication created Askme3: the three most important questions a patient should ask their health provider at every visit.


Linking to Community Resources


Linking to Community Resources

Linking to Community Resources, such as agencies, organizations, and other services that assist people with chronic illness, can help individuals manage their conditions and meet their goals. People with chronic disease may not be aware of the resources available to them in the community and elsewhere, and a peer supporter can help fulfill this need.

Linking to Community Resources

  • MyDiabetesConnect was launched by Cities for Life to connect people with diabetes to community resources in Birmingham, AL.


Unit 5:Protocols
Ethical Considerations


Ethical Considerations

Ethical Considerations refers to basic standards of right and wrong. For a peer supporter, ethical considerations include, but are not limited to, respecting others’ rights, confidentiality, doing no harm, and maintaining boundaries. Ethical considerations are important so that no one is harmed, physically or emotionally. Peer supporters should be trained in basic ethical principles so they may understand the limits of their power, influence, and care, and how to deal with difficult people and situations.


Part 2: Training Approaches


What is it?
Role playing is a training technique that allows people to act out hypothetical situations they may encounter in working with people with diabetes.

Why is it important?
Role playing allows participants to practice and become comfortable with dialogue, listening, and how to handle potentially difficult situations or people.

Learn more about role playing from the following resources:



Step 3: Develop plans for evaluating training outcomes and ongoing training


Evaluating Training Outcomes

An evaluation of training outcomes focuses on the impact of training on the training participants. Such an evaluation is important for examining the preparation of peer supporters to carry out peer support.  It is also important for identifying ways to inform and improve future and ongoing training activities.

Evaluation of training outcomes involves:

  • Identify outcomes that the training intends to achieve
  • Select approaches to assess them

For example, if a peer support training

  • If a peer support training  information uses information education to teach disease specific information (e.g., basic diabetes-related knowledge)   then written tests may be useful for evaluating training outcomes
  • If a peer support training program emphasizes skills building and role plays to enhance communication, facilitation and other support skills a  then  simulation through standardized patient cases to observe participants’ responses may be useful for evaluating training outcomes.

A peer support program needs to determine any “minimum requirements” for meeting or passing the training expectations, and also how to deal with those who may fail to demonstrate the intended training outcomes.  In many cases, programs may offer additional sessions to address noted areas needing further attention and thereby “re-train” the training participants.

It is also recommended to conduct process evaluation in terms of evaluating training program satisfaction. This can help understand if the training content and approaches enable the participants to obtain the knowledge and skills that the training intends to provide. The assessment can be quantitative and/or qualitative.

To learn more, please view

However, in addition to conduct and evaluate training, having plans for ongoing training and support for peer supporters such as periodic booster sessions on certain topics is just important.  You can learn more about how to provide ongoing support for peer supporters in Manage Peer Support.


Examples of training curriculum


Here you can find Examples of Peer Support Training Curricula and Examples of Peer Support Training Agendas. While the target audiences and topics of these resources vary, they do illustrate how to bundle important competencies and skills together to create a comprehensive approach to training peer supporters. Users would need to tailor sample curricula and agendas to best meet the needs of your specific setting or population.




  • IDF Peer Leader Manual – A manual by Tricia Tang and Martha Funnell to train peer supporters to provide ongoing diabetes self-management support.
  • UCSF Health Coach Training – A curriculum developed by Thomas Bodenheimer and David Thom at the Center for Excellence in Primary Care
  • Diabetes Self Management Education Manual – A manual developed by the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council to help trainers to teach diabetes educational sessions to a group.
  • SONRISA – A Curriculum Toolbox for Promotores to Address Mental Health and Diabetes
  • Peer Supporter Training Curriculum – Rapid training course originally developed for the Lions Club of North Carolina


Mental Health


  • Peer Support Training Manual – This training manual was developed by the Canadian Mental Health Association as a guideline for peer support training in the Okanagan (British Columbia) Health Service Area.
  • Peer Mentor Support System – This Peer Mentor Support System addressing mental health provides a series of peer support training modules, guidance documents, other resources, and exercises in various chapters.
  • Peer Support Training Manual – This training manual was written for Trinity College’s Peer Support Project. The manual is a result of years of experience with building a peer support program through the college’s student counseling services. This training manual contains 10 workshops focused on building skills and competencies of peer supporters.
  • Ohio Advocates for Mental Health Peer Support Training – This collection of materials comprises a short course for consumers to further peer support among individuals, to gain skills for use as Peer Support Specialists, to advance the use of warm lines and partnering activities, and to form and sustain peer support groups. The expectation is that people giving and taking this course will have heightened awareness of effective communication skills and resources to assist them as they provide peer support.
  • SAMHSA Training Teleconference Archives – The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration teleconference archives offer many helpful presentations on peer support for mental health. Presentation slides typically include dozens of links to additional resources.




  • Lay Health Advisor Manual – This manual from the NC Breast Cancer Screening Program prepare older African American women working within their local communities to encourage friends, families, and others they meet to have regular mammograms and pap smears.




  • Peer education: training manual – This training manual describes ways in which non-governmental organizations (NGOs) may design, deliver and manage training programs for peer educators. Its purpose is to assist NGOs to design and implement strategies and work-plans for peer education, as part of comprehensive sexual health interventions.
  • Training of Trainers Manual – This peer education in HIV prevention manual was used extensively for two years in 27 countries across Eastern Europe and Central Asia and was translated into 15 languages, including Arabic. In particular, Section 2 provides Guidelines for Training of Trainers, and provides general team building and communication exercises.




  • Lay Health Educator Manual – This is a guide for implementing lay health educator interventions and training educators for settings and program models similar to Maine’s Move More project. The manual includes policies and procedures, change models of particular importance, sample forms, and information about exercise.


Examples of training agendas


Peer supporter trainings vary in duration based on the time, money, and resources available to each individual organization. The following examples are organized by the duration of training:

  • Short ( less than 18 hours)
  • Medium (18-30 hours)
  • Long (Over 40 hours)

Short Duration Trainings (less than 18 hours)

Medium Duration Trainings (18 to 30 hours)

Longer Duration Trainings (over 30 hours)


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