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What is a Peer Specialist Supervisor (PSS)?

This article summarizes the role, responsibilities, and ethical guidelines for Peer Specialist Supervisors.

A Peer Specialist Supervisor (PSS) is a person who supports and guides a peer specialist after they obtain their certification. A PSS will oversee peer specialists while they provide the necessary components of peer work, such as giving recovery-oriented peer services, skill building, ethical problem solving, optimizing professional growth, and performing administrative duties.

 

This supervision may also extend to overseeing aspects specific to the organization where a peer specialist is working. This would include things like learning organization specific policies, or performing and understanding distinct administrative matters.

 

The role of a PSS is important and ongoing, since supervision is consistently required for any peer specialist after they obtain certification. Supervision is likewise required in any organization that implements peer specialists. 

 

For a specialist with initial certification, peer specialist supervision is required at least once weekly. For two-year certifications, supervision is required at least once a month; however, a peer specialist may request more supervision at their discretion. This supervision can be occur in a variety of situations:

  • individually or in a group setting

  • face-to-face or via teleconference

  • while the peer specialist supervisor is being observed by their manager

 

Unlike other peer work roles, a certified PSS requires more than a singular Certified Peer Specialist Supervisor credential. A certified peer specialist supervisor must also be one of the following:

  • a Qualified Credentialed Counselor (QCC)

  • a Licensed Practitioner of the Healing Arts (LPHA)

  • a Qualified Mental Health Professional (QMHP), if supervised by a QCC or LPHA

  • a Qualified Peer Supervisor (QPS), if supervised by a QCC or LPHA 

 

Additionally, a PSS who is a QMHP or QPS is required to undergo observation at a frequency determined by their QCC or LPHA, typically based on the PSS’ skill level. The QCC or LPHA must also provide individual or group supervision in coordination with the PSS at least once a month.

 

In order to gain certification as a Peer Specialist Supervisor, one must successfully complete supervisory training on peer specialist services and the peer-oriented recovery model by a certified training entity. This training must include components distinct to peer work, including all of the following:

  • Clarification of the distinction between peer support and therapy

  • The unique role of peer support services in building and sustaining recovery goals. 

  • How to advocate for peer specialists and peer specialist services

  • How to provide strengths-based, timely, and respectful feedback about the peer specialist’s job performance

 

The legal guidelines for peer specialist supervision can be found in Texas Administrative Code at 1 TAC §354.3103 Supervision.

 

The core competencies for peer specialist supervision can be found here, as outlined by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

 

Peer specialist supervisor certification is administered by the Texas Certification Board (TCB), whose application can be found on their website

 

For next steps on becoming a peer specialist supervisor, check out our guide, Steps to Becoming a Certified Peer Specialist Supervisor (PSS)