Perhaps you’ve been working in law enforcement, the military, or another first responder field for quite some time, and you’re starting to realize that peer support specialists are the key that’s been missing from your organization. Or perhaps you’ve already undergone some of our peer support training programs and are now looking to expand from a one-person department into a bigger program that can help more people.

If you’ve been doing your research, you may have come across a particular document published by other peer support programs known as a Peer Support Specialist Code Of Ethics. This blog post will explain more about what this document is and the benefits it can deliver for your current or future program. Keep reading to learn more and remember that Peer Support Central is here to help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to be a top peer support specialist.

Peer Support Specialists Vs. Licensed Therapists

To fully understand the need for and importance of a peer support specialist code of ethics, it helps to take a look at the differences between this profession and that of licensed therapist.

The first big difference between peer support specialists and licensed therapists is the level of education they went through before entering the profession. While completion of an advanced degree is required of licensed therapists, anyone with the right experience and desire can become a peer support specialist. In most cases, a GED or high school diploma is all that’s required.

This also means that most peer support programs are relatively self-governed. While there are some state and local regulations put in place to define scope and purpose of these programs, they don’t have the federal or legal oversight of licensed therapists.

Why Adopt A Code Of Ethics for Your Peer Support Program?

So how can peer support programs ensure that they are upholding a high standard of excellence that protects both the counselors, many of whom are in recovery themselves, as well as the patients? How can these programs be sure that they have systems in place to preserve the confidentiality that patients assume exists when they talk to their peers? Many choose to do this voluntarily through a Code Of Ethics.

The purpose of a Peer Support Specialist Code Of Ethics is to define the parameters of the peer-to-peer specialist relationship as well as its long term goals for each patient.

Here is a very simple example Code of Ethics from the International Association of Peer Supporters:

  1. Peer support is voluntary.
  2. Peer supporters are hopeful.
  3. Peer supports are open minded.
  4. Peer supporters are empathetic.
  5. Peer supports are respectful.
  6. Peer supporters facilitate change.
  7. Peer supporters are honest and direct.
  8. Peer support is mutual and reciprocal.
  9. Peer support is equally shared power.
  10. Peer support is strengths-focused.
  11. Peer support is transparent.
  12. Peer support is person-driven.

Here is a more detailed example of a Code of Ethics for Peer Specialists, from Magellan Health and DBSA:

  1. Peer Specialists believe that every individual has strengths and the ability to learn and grow.
  2. Peer Specialists respect the rights and dignity of those they serve.
  3. Peer Specialists openly share their personal recovery stories with colleagues and those they serve.
  4. Peer Specialists seek to role-model recovery.
  5. Peer Specialists respect the privacy and confidentiality of those they serve.
  6. Peer Specialists never intimidate, threaten, or harass those they serve; never use undue influence, physical force, or verbal abuse with those they serve; and never make unwarranted promises of benefits to those they serve.
  7. Peer Specialists do not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate in any form of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, national origin, marital status, political belief, or mental or physical disability.
  8. Peer Specialists maintain high standards of personal conduct.
  9. Peer Specialists conduct themselves in a manner that fosters their own recovery, maintaining healthy behaviors.
  10. Peer Specialists do not enter into dual relationships or commitments that conflict with the interests of those they serve.

We Can Help Build Your Peer Support Program From The Ground Up!

If you’re interested in learning more about how to start your own peer support and wellness program, or how to incorporate a code of ethics into your current work, please don’t hesitate to sign up for our peer support specialist training programs. We offer workshops full of robust discussion, debate, case studies, and interactive exercises that can help. Enroll today!