Who is eligible to participate in DBSA’s Peer Specialist Course?

Participants must be 18 or older with lived experience of one or more of the following: trauma, mental health, and/or substance use condition. They must be publicly willing to identify as someone who lives with a mental health, trauma, or substance use condition who seeks to use their experience as practical, supportive services for others in recovery. DBSA does not offer a course for family members of loved ones living with major depressive or bipolar disorder.

Can family members or friends participate?

We recognize that family members and friends are a valuable source of support for people in recovery. Many other organizations provide training that is designed for family and friends. However, our course is specifically for those with direct lived experience of mental health, trauma, and/or substance use conditions.

Can people in recovery from substance use conditions/disorder (SUD) participate?

Our curriculum focuses broadly on recovery principles and skills and can be beneficial for people in recovery.

Is this a national certification?

There is currently no national certification for Peer Specialists. Training and certification requirements are determined on a state-by-state basis. Our training is rooted in peer competencies from SAMHSA and the Veterans Health Administration.

Does this training course meet my state training and certification requirements?

Each individual state sets its own peer specialist training and certification standards. Many states do accept the DBSA Peer Specialist Course as part of their training requirements, but receiving DBSA’s course certificate is just the first step in becoming a state-credentialed Peer Specialist. Please check applicable requirements with your state certification body, office of consumer affairs, or service delivery system before making the decision to participate in the DBSA Peer Specialist Course.

Does successful completion of this training course meet the qualifications for VHA peer specialist positions?

Successful completion of DBSA’s Peer Specialist course meets national competency standards set by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Mental Health Services for peer specialist employees. Successful completion of the DBSA Peer Specialist Course meets those standards and is recognized by the VHA as an approved course. There may be additional work or volunteer experience required by the VHA for employment. Taking DBSA’s course does not guarantee employment at VHA facilities, and if hired by the VHA, more training will likely be part of their apprentice and onboarding programs.

Does participating in this course make me eligible for a paid position?

Many individuals have increased their skills and marketability by successfully completing the DBSA Peer Specialist Course. However, participating in the course does not guarantee employment or a volunteer position as a Peer Specialist. Nor does successfully completing the course fulfill all of a state’s additional requirements for a state credential. DBSA’s training is part of that overall process, and it is up to the student to check with their unique state’s requirements.

How do I enroll in the course?

Visit our registration page to complete the online application form by the scheduled deadline. Enrollment is limited. Please note that submitting an application form does not guarantee acceptance.

What is the cost?

Tuition is $1,500, plus a non-refundable $75 registration fee. If you are accepted, your registration fee will be automatically applied to your tuition. DBSA requires the full tuition payment to be submitted 10 business days prior to the start of the course.

Do you offer scholarships for the training course?

Generally, DBSA does not offer scholarships for the Peer Specialist Training Course. If scholarships are available, the link will be on the registration page.

Can Veterans use Chapter 31 benefits toward their tuition fees?

Eligible Veterans and family members can apply to use VA Chapter 31 benefits to cover the expenses involved in receiving a certificate of course completion. We recommend you contact your local VA facility to learn more.

Do you accept payment from 529 college savings funds?

DBSA is not an accredited academic institution and therefore is not a recipient of those types of funds.

What types of payments are accepted?

DBSA accepts check and credit card payments. We can also bill a third party on request from the participant.

What is the cancellation policy?

The $75.00 registration fee is non-refundable.

The $1,425.00 course tuition is:

  • 100% refundable if requested up to 30 days prior to the first day of the DBSA Peer Specialist Course.
  • 50% refundable if requested up to two weeks prior to the first day of the course.
  • 25% refundable if requested any time after two weeks prior to the first day of the course.
  • Once the course has commenced there is no refund.

Why is the tuition fee $1,500?

Part of elevating the Peer Specialist role and workforce is striving to offer best-in-class service. As a nonprofit organization, DBSA carefully manages its budget to fulfill our mission of providing hope, help, support, and education to improve the lives of people who have mood disorders.

Though we strive to avoid financial barriers to participating in our programs, we cannot eliminate the resources needed to ensure the Peer Specialist course prepares participants for the workforce. DBSA would like to invite you to consider two things if tuition is a barrier:

  1. Join our advocacy efforts which will help remove barriers like cost.
  2. Consider the following fundraising options.
    • Research scholarship options.
    • Research Chapter 31 benefits if you are a Veteran.
    • Set up a Go Fund Me style page to raise the money for the course.

What’s the training schedule?

The DBSA Peer Specialist Course is a blend of independent learning, remote group learning, and a virtual skill-building workshop.

Week 1 | Independent learning: approximately 15 hours
Week 2 | Independent learning: approximately 15 hours
Week 3 | 5-day Building the Skills workshop: Approximately 40 hours
Week 4 | Independent learning: Approximately 10 hours

Comprehensive final evaluation: 3 hours

Is there a test, and is it required?

To receive a certificate of completion, the student must obtain a combined score of 75 points out of a 100-point evaluation. The final test is part of these 100 points. Student participation and engagement is also a significant part of the total 100 points.

When and where does testing take place?

All quizzes, essays, student participation, observed evaluation, and comprehensive exam are completed by the student remotely.

Is there an extra fee to take the test?

The cost of testing is included in the course registration fee.

Can I re-test if I don’t pass?

Yes. Our test is designed to show that students were engaged to the best of their ability during the learning experience. It is not designed to be so difficult that it is a challenge to pass. The vast majority of our learners easily score sufficiently on the test to receive their certificate from DBSA. If not – and this is rare – we will work one on one with that individual.

Can I obtain a copy of DBSA’s course materials?

Our Student Manual is proprietary material and requires classroom attendance and instructions.

Can DBSA staff review my situation and decide if I should apply?

While DBSA staff is not in a position to speak about your own unique situation, we recommend reviewing these FAQs for further information. This may help you make a determination on whether or not this course is a good fit for you.