Do peer support specialists require a specific model of supervision?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions when an agency is contemplating providing peer support services to the people they serve. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued guidance to states requiring peer support staff providing Medicaid funded services to be supervised by “a competent mental health professional (as defined by the State).” With the availability of state sanctioned certification in most states, Certified Peer Specialists are accepted by some state Medicaid authorities as competent mental health professionals while others require clinical supervision. Many people believe that in order to properly supervise peer support specialists, the supervisor must also be a person with lived experience. Others believe that the most important criteria is that, because peer support services are a unique model, the supervisor (peer or non-peer) must be highly knowledgeable in the practice of peer support services. In many states, the issue is solved by providing day to day supervision by a qualified individual with lived experience and clinical supervision by a state recognized mental health professional.

In short, because of the wide range of state requirements around peer support the final answer for “legitimate” supervision has to be defined on a state by state basis.

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