Minimum Requirements for Texas Mental Health Peer Specialist Certification
According to the Texas Administrative Code, a peer specialist must meet the following eligibility criteria:1
(1) be at least 18 years of age;
(2) have lived experience;
(3) have a high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED);
(4) be willing to appropriately share his own recovery story with recipients;
(5) be able to demonstrate current self-directed recovery; and
(6) pass criminal history and registry checks as described in §354.3201 of this subchapter (relating to Criminal History and Registry Checks).
What is “Lived Experience”?
Lived experience is a broad concept, as we discussed in our section about the basics of peer support. But, for the purposes of eligibility as a Certified RSPS, a person must have lived experience with substance use. Specifically, a person has eligible lived experience “a significant life disruption due to the person's own . . . substance use disorder.”
The Texas Administrative Code defines a substance use disorder as: ”a recurrent use of alcohol or drugs that causes clinically and functionally significant impairment, such as health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.”
One thing we want to highlight in this definition is that this definition does not say anything about requiring that someone has a diagnosis. This is because peer support is non-clinical, and therefore, Peer Specialists do not rely on diagnoses to relate to other people.
More about Recovery
Peer Specialists are open and authentic about their experiences with recovery, and sometimes they share their experiences with recovery when it is helpful to the exploration and support of the person they are providing services to. That is why certified Peer Specialists in Texas must be able to “demonstrate current self-directed recovery”4 and “be willing to appropriately share his own recovery story with recipients.”5
If you do not feel like you are in a position to share your experience with substance use challenges and your experience with your recovery journey, you are probably not quite ready to be a peer supporter yet.
Remember that recovery does not require someone to be abstinent (although many people choose abstinence as the recovery pathway that works for them). Recovery Support Peer Specialists do not have to engage in abstinence nor do they have to follow any other recovery pathway. Regardless of the pathway that they have chosen, both MHPS & RSPS need to be able to demonstrate that they are strongly grounded in their own recovery.