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Behavioral Health and Recovery Services

Department of Community and Human Services

Behavioral Health and Recovery Division
Chinook Building
401 Fifth Ave., Suite 400
Seattle, WA 98104

Jim Vollendroff, Dir.
e-mail us
Phone:  206-263-9000
Fax:   206-296-0583
TTY:   711 Relay Service

Employee Directory

Department: Community and Human Services
Adrienne Quinn, Director

Peer Counselor Training for State Certification

Certified Peer Counselors

Coping with symptoms Certified Peer Counselors are people who have experienced mental illness themselves and are on their own recovery journey. Certified Peer Counselors are well grounded in their own recovery and model competency in ongoing coping skills. They help people identify goals that promote recovery and resiliency and assist them in identifying services and activities to help them reach these goals.

Medicaid has rules about the mental health services they will pay for. In order for a mental health agency to be reimbursed for "peer support services", the peer support person must be certified by the State of Washington as a Certified Peer Support Counselor.

To be certified as a Peer Counselor a person must meet these criteria:

  • Self-identify as a consumer who is receiving or has received mental health services. For a child under the age of thirteen, or for a child age thirteen or older whose parents or legal guardians are involved in the treatment plan, the definition of consumer includes parents or legal guardians. The mental health services they have received can be either privately funded (insurance) or publicly funded (Medicaid).
  • Demonstrate that they have been well grounded in their own mental health recovery for at least one year at the time of application
  • Receive specialized training approved by the state Mental Health Division - the training is free
  • Pass a written and oral exam administered by the state Mental Health Division - the exam is free
  • After having successfully passed the exam, one is considered “Qualified to be a Certified Peer Counselor.” To be officially considered a Certified Peer Counselor requires registering with the Washington State Department of Health as an Agency Affiliates Counselor. This requires one to be employed by a mental health agency.

Peer Counselor Training for Certification

King County provides the Peer Counselor training approved by the Washington State Mental Health Division. You must be a King County resident to qualify for the training provided by King County. Lunch and morning and afternoon snacks are provided. You must provide your own transportation each day. Class is from 8 am to 5 pm for five days, Monday through Friday. The training is free.

To take the King County training, you should have or desire to have employment in the King County public mental health system as a Certified Peer Counselor after completion of the program. Please see the column on the right of this page for training dates and a link to the application.

The state Mental Health Division also sponsors the same training state-wide. They provide hotel accommodation and all your meals. Please know that there is a great deal of competition for the state trainings and the wait list can be long. Click on the following link to be taken to their Web site to learn when the next state trainings are and how to apply.

Please note:

Training slots are limited and therefore submission of the application does not guarantee admission. If you are selected for the training, you will receive a letter inviting you to register. Applications accepted for training are prioritized in the following order:

  • Individuals currently employed in the mental health field.
  • Individuals currently volunteering in the mental health field.
  • All other applicants based on date the application is submitted.

Certification as a peer counselor does not guarantee employment. Please see Peer Support Opportunities for postings of open positions within King County mental health agencies.

Application - Peer Counselor Training

Click on this link for the Application Form:   Peer Counselor Training Application
Instructions for filling out the form are included.  Your signed and dated application, including your answers to the application questions, should be submitted to:

DSHS/Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery
Attn:  Bonnie Staples, Program Administrator
P.O. Box 45330
Olympia, WA 98504-5330
Your application must be a hard copy with your handwritten signature. 
Please include a cover letter to inform the DSHS/Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery if you want to take the training in King County or State sponsored training. For more information about the differences, read the section titled, “Peer Counselor Training for Certification.”