Certified Peer Specialist 

Massachusetts CPS Training Program 

Please read below for information on eligibility requirements and steps on how to apply.


Massachusetts Certified Peer Specialist Training


Class 1 – July 2021- 1 online class via zoom  3x a week (9-4pm last 3 weeks of July)-closed 

Class 2 – September 2021 -1 online class via zoom  3x week (9-4 pm  the month of September)-closed

Class 3  – November 2021- 1 online class  via zoom  2x week (9-4pm Tues & Thurs)-closed 

Class 4  – March 2022 – 1 online class via zoom 5x week (9-4pm March 14-25) 

Class 5  – May 2022 – 1 online class via zoom 3x week (9-4pm first 3 weeks of May) 

Dates, places, and class formats are subjected to change.

Certified Peer Specialist Training Program

Welcome! We are pleased to provide you with information about the CPS program.

Click the link to go to the section:
About the MA CPS Training Program Demonstrated Student Skills CPS Eligibility Requirements Preparing for the CPS Program CPS Success Factors Steps to Apply and Quicklinks Other FAQs
Healing is a Self-Determined Process

Who better to deliver that message than other individuals who have lived experiences with trauma, mental health, and substance use? “I’ve felt something like this too” is one of the most validating and useful phrases a person can say or hear.

What is Peer Support?

At the core of the Massachusetts Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) training is the mutually valuable exchange of hope, encouragement, connection, and understanding. That, coupled with information and support, is the essence of the peer support community. In the mutual and survivor movements, peer support relationships are among two or more people who have experienced trauma and/or been given a mental health diagnosis.


This is a rigorous training for people preparing for a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) role in the community or service system. CPS is not an entry-level position and the training is designed for people who have some knowledge and experience with peer support. A CPS has been trained to share their experiences of healing with trauma, a mental health diagnosis, services, and support and to carry the message that “Healing is a Self-Determined Process.” In sharing our wisdom, strength, and hope with others (including people using services, mental health professionals and policy makers) CPSs can significantly impact peoples’ beliefs about their own capacity to heal and the capacity of others to heal with the experiences they’ve lived through. The CPS program includes classes that covers 24+ modules, small group activities and homework. The course supports students to inspire hope in people they support and work with. After completing the class, students are eligible to take a written examination in order to become certified.

  • The Three Core Competencies: 1) Peer Support, 2) “In” but not “Of” the System, 3) Change Agent
  • Peer Support, Mutual, Survivor Movement History
  • Advanced Fundamentals of Peer Support
  • Human Experience Language
  • Cross-Cultural Partnering
  • Fear: Friend and Foe
  • Group Facilitation and Self-Help Tools
  • Power, Conflict and Integrity
  • Creating the Life One Wants

Final decisions take into account our mandate to compose a class that includes diverse perspectives and world views, and makes admission a priority for people currently employed as a CPS.


The application process considers the following as success factors for CPS training and in the CPS role:

  • Demonstrates a foundation of knowledge and experience in peer support relationships and understands the peer specialist role in the mental health system.
  • Has basic knowledge about the differences between a maintenance-based mental health system and one that is recovery-oriented.
  • Has knowledge of self-healing process through personal experience and experience with leadership, advocacy, or other relevant peer support roles.
  • Is committed to completing the CPS course, taking the CPS exam, and working as a CPS in mental health and other service systems.
  • Have successfully participated in at least two peer run trainings and/or workshops.

There are many resources available that will help you assess your skills in one-on-one and group peer support settings so you may become an agent for change and share your story (links below):

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) | Training Self-Assessment | Code of Ethics | Preparation Manual

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Live or work in Massachusetts
  • High School Diploma or equivalent (GED, HiSET, etc)
  • Lived experience with significant life impacts like trauma, receiving a mental health diagnosis, and/or substance use
  • Willingness to share your story in the context of peer support
  • Have successfully participated in at least two peer run trainings and/or workshops

PLEASE read “Summary of the interview and application process” for important details, eligibility, preparation, and requirements for the CPS Training. Your ability to follow these instructions is part of our evaluation of readiness for training.

apply here
Summary of the interview and application process:
  1. Review “CPS Eligibility Requirements” above.
  2. Assess your readiness for CPS Training using the “CPS Training Self-assessment
  3.  Complete your CPS Application
  4.  After you fill out the application, you will get an email from “The Kiva Centers” with a link to schedule an interview. (Check your spam file if you do not receive a confirmation email.)
  5. You will receive a confirmation email with the date of your interview.
  6. Obtain two Letters of Recommendation
  7. Submit letters of recommendation and/or application in any of these ways: 1) Upload with your CPS application within 2 business days before your interview, 2) Email to CPS@kivacenters.org, or 3) Fax to: 617-442-4005. (Please make sure paperwork clearly states who the reference is for) For details about what letters of recommendation we are looking for please read below.
Letters of Recommendation

Tips: Request letters of recommendation from people that have a good understanding of your characteristics and skills and how they might apply to the CPS role.  Potential references include  employers, volunteer supervisors, educators, friends, or other people that know you well.  We are interested in your ability to form supportive relationships and any experience you have with peer support.

  • Two (2) letters of recommendation are required.
  • We encourage you to request letters as soon as you decide to schedule an interview.  Some applicants request letters from more than 2 people to help ensure they will be done before your interview.
  • Letters should be written specifically for this application.
  • Please do not submit a recommendation you obtained as part of a past CPS applications or for another purpose.
  • One letter of recommendation must be from someone directly involved in peer support. Family members may not provide letters of recommendation. Recommendations from treatment providers detailing your “mental health diagnosis” and treatment are discouraged.

Other FAQs



No! Peer Support relationships change lives and foster self-healing anywhere that people seek and give support based on shared experiences. There are far more opportunities and places to offer peer support than there are paid roles for Certified Peer Specialists. Peer support happens informally and in paid and volunteer roles that do not require CPS training and certification. Peer support training is offered through a variety of organizations for people with or without experience with peer support. Many provide a certificate of completion or offer their own certification program, for example, Regional Recovery Learning Communities (RLCs) who offer a variety of peer support trainings.


See the top of the page for a list.

Kiva CPS Team
C4 Innovations

Kiva Centers is pleased to partner with C4 Innovations to develop CPS Training Programs for the Commonwealth

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