Peer Support Specialists

If you want to learn more about peer support specialists, you’re in the right place. Read to learn about who we are, where we work, and get answers to frequently asked questions. 

Who are PSS?

A Peer Support Specialist (PSS) is an individual who is personally living well in recovery from a serious mental illness.  A Peer Support Specialist uses their recovery story to instill hope.  They provide support to other peers and assist them in reaching and maintaining their personal recovery goals. In addition, a PSS can serve as an advocate, provide information, help access community resources, and model competency in recovery and wellness. Peer Support Specialists promote skills for improving mental and physical wellbeing and increasing resiliency.  They promote self-determination and support peers in maintaining relationships and increasing a higher level of control and satisfaction over their lives.

Where do PSS work?

Peer Support Specialists are employed in mental health facilities, social service agencies, peer run recovery centers, peer run respites, integrated health homes, hospitals, prisons, with law enforcement agencies and other healthcare organizations.  Peer Support Specialists may also serve on a variety of advisory boards and committees at local, state, and national levels.

Peer Support Trainings 2019

Iowa City
September 2019

Application Open

July 1 - August 12, 2019

In-Person Training

September 23-27, 2019


Clarion Highlander Hotel
2525 N. Dodge St.
Iowa City, IA 52245

West Des Moines
November 2019

Application Open

August 19 - September 30, 2019

In-Person Training

November 11-15, 2019


Link Associates
1452 29th St.
West Des Moines, IA 50266

Training Details

5-Day Training

You must commit to attending the entire 5-day training. Training begins promptly at 830AM each day and ends at 5PM. Training will break each day around noon for lunch

Lodging Information

You must arrange and pay for your own lodging.


This training is FREE, however, trainees must pay for their own lodging, food and travel costs. If you are currently employed as a Peer Support Specialist, check with your employer about covering these expenses.


You must make arrangements for your own food.  You will have an hour for lunch and there are many food options near the training site. Most training locations do not allow outside food to be brought in.


Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this training, please contact Diane Funk in advance at 319-467-5034.


If you are not currently employed as a PSS (and will not have your costs paid by your employer), you may be eligible for a stipend that would reimburse you for part of your training related expenses.  You would be required to pay the initial costs of you hotel, gas and meals and submit a form for reimbursement upon completion of the training. You must submit the stipend application 2 weeks before the first day of training. Stipends must be applied for, processed and approved BEFORE the training.  If you would like more information about applying for a stipend please email: IowaPeerSupportTraining@

PSS Application Requirements

You must have a high school diploma or GED.

The training will provide you with in-depth knowledge and skills. However, in general the PSS role involves the ability to:
  • Model effective coping and self-help techniques
  • Work with individuals from diverse socio economic and cultural backgrounds
  • Attend workplace meetings and complete agency requirements
  • Assist people with finding community and natural supports and teaching them how to utilize these services
  • Advocate for someone’s needs and accompany them to meetings as needed
  • Work as a member of an interdisciplinary team focusing on each persons need for recovery
  • Communicate effectively both verbally and in writing
  • Adhere to confidentiality and understand protected health information
  • Maintain records and provide accurate documentation
  • Use computers ( i.e. Basic computer skills-email, web searches, word processing)
  • Ability to maintain a part-time or full-time work schedule
  • Willing to share your own personal story of living with and recovery from a mental illness

You must be 21 years of age to take the training.

  • To apply send an email request to:
  • You will receive an email response within 48 hours with a link to the online application.
  • Applications will be screened when the application process closes. See date listed under specific trainings for closing dates. Training spaces are limited, so apply early.
  • You will be asked to provide contact information for 2 references.
  • Once your application is received, you may be contacted with information regarding a phone interview.
  • After the screening interview, you will be notified about whether or not you will be accepted for training. This is generally around 3 weeks before the in-person training starts.