Peer Specialist to Youth

‌Make a difference in your community!  Peer relationships have been shown to improve mental health outcomes. 

This program trains and prepares people with lived mental health challenges to support transitional age youth and parents of children, adolescents and transitional age youth who have also lived with mental health challenges.

The last cohort for this program started on 5-7-18.  

No further applications can be accepted for this program. 

Can I Participate In This Program If I Am Already Working In This Or A Similar Field Or Have Taken Other Courses?

Yes!  Students may be new to the field or may be individuals who are already practicing and want additional credentials to advance their employability.


The program consists of a combination of three courses with an evidence based curriculum plus practicum experience.  This program exceeds traditional standards by providing additional proven tools to improve the effectiveness of skills used by Peer Support Specialists.  The program consists of the following courses and practicum hours.  The practicum hours are divided between support group experience and volunteer hours. 

Section Classroom Hours Practicum Hours Total Practicum and Classroom Hours
Introduction to Peer Services 40 77


Tools for Peer Providers 40 86 126
Peer Bridging 40 86 126
Total 120 249 369


This program is a collaboration between LMU Extension and SHARE! the Self-Help And Recovery Exchange.  The course curriculum is proven material based on the SHARE! the Self-Help And Recovery Exchanges' 24 years of experience in providing peer-based programs and extensive research into effective evidence based practices. 


Acceptance into the program provides to you a full scholarship to the Peer Specialist for Youth program. The scholarship covers the tuition for the three sections in the program:

  • Introduction to Peer Services: $533
  • Tools for Peer Providers: $533
  • Peer Bridging: $534
  • Total award: $1,600

The scholarship is made possible through an HRSA grant, which provides funding for 128 students to complete the three courses in this program.  The terms of the grant requires you to complete the program (consisting of three sections and practicum hours) and, after completing the courses, seeking employment (paid or as a volunteer) as a Peer Specialist working with transitional-age youth or the parents of children, adolescents, or transitional age youth. 

Section Descriptions:

Courses must be taken in sequence. All sections focus on transitional-age youth (TAY) and the parents of children, adolescents and transitional-age youth. 

Section One:  Introduction to Peer Services (plus practicum hours) 

The first section teaches about self-help groups, recovery planning, crisis management, suicide prevention, targeted case management assistance, triage, ethics and boundaries, HIPPA and confidentiality, self-care and job readiness skills. 

Students will learn:

  • Evidence-based best peer practices for connecting people with services and resources to further their recovery, and know when to connect someone to a higher level of care. 
  • The difference between supporting, controlling and enabling appropriate boundaries.
  • How to avoid disclosing protected health information, respecting people's confidentiality and privacy rights and needs.
  • Five strategies for work-life balance, mental health self-care, recovery, stress reduction and resiliency.
  • Job readiness skills (including: attendance, working together, project management, meeting deadlines, co-worker relations, and supervisor relations) will be woven into the structure of the curriculum.
  • Risk factors and warning signs of suicide, as well as health, cultural, ethnic, environmental and historical factors which can predict suicidal behavior, and know effective strategies for preventing suicide.
  • How to guide someone through SHARE!'s Plan for Success and support them in reaching their goals.

Students will be familiar with:

  • Self-help support group best practices and how to make referrals to them. 
  • The large variety of diverse culturally competent 12-step and other self-help support groups available to mental health consumers, people with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse issues and their families, parents and caregivers.

Section Two:  Tools for Peer Providers (plus practicum hours)

This second section teaches students concrete skills to:

  • Help create and maintain safe, non-judgmental peer environments in Client-Run and Wellness Centers, respite houses and peer services. 
  • Use evidence-based practices and techniques developed by SHARE! the Self Help Recovery Exchange and others to make peer personnel effective.
  • Help people reach their recovery goals, build healthy relationships, avoid and defuse conflict and avoid power struggles.
  • Understand in which circumstances each Tool works best, and be sensitive to cultural issues in implementing them.
  • Application of a broad range of strategies to use with different situations and people.
  • Do crisis management.
  • Know when to quickly change to another Tool.
  • Focus on the job despite mental health issues.
  • Know and be able to manage triggers, and
  • Have good self-care practices. 

The curriculum from this course comes from many evidenced based practices, among which include concepts found in SAMSHA's Whole Health Action Management (WHAM) training program.  This course includes more than 30 techniques developed over 25 years of working with people at SHARE!, a peer-run self-help support group center.  Using the Tools, SHARE! has supported tens of thousands of people in achieving their goals, including obtaining jobs, housing, education, relationships, family, sobriety creative pursuits and more.  SHARE! "Tools of the Trade" represent a holistic way of looking at relationships which ultimately result in building community and creating a recovery environment that fosters growth and change. 

Section Three:  Peer Bridging (plus practicum hours)

The third section teaches students to support consumers as they transition from hospitals, IMDs, jail, homelessness, and foster care to new circumstances.  

Students learn:

  • Effective problem-solving individually and in groups.
  • Skills to support people as they transition into less restrictive environments (and/or away from homelessness).
  • To anticipate and resolve problems as they arise, deal with the surprises and disappointments which accompany change and support people as they develop independent living skills.
  • How to help people build their own supportive social networks, deal with problems without panic or relapse, focus on a better future and develop meaningful roles in the world.
  • Skills to use when entering the workforce. 

The Value of This Certificate Program

Throughout the three sections and practicum experience, you are learning needed skills to thrive as a Peer Specialist for Youth.  This training goes beyond standard workshops.  Starting with the very first course in this program you are gaining job readiness skills to ease your ability to do well in the workplace; as well as concepts of prevention, clinical intervention, treatment and seven evidence based practices proven to be effective when mentoring high-risk populations.  The evidence based practices include:

  1. Tangible Social Support.
  2. Self-Help Support Groups.
  3. Peer Services.
  4. Helper Therapy Principle.
  5. Trauma Informed Care.
  6. Peer Critical Time Interventions.
  7. Housing First.

During the three courses and practicum experience, you develop and continually deepen knowledge in 15 core-competency elements including:

  1. The concepts of hope, recovery, and wellness.
  2. The role of advocacy.
  3. The role of consumers and family members.
  4. Psychiatric rehabilitation skills and service delivery, and addiction recovery principles, including defined practices.
  5. Cultural competence training.
  6. Trauma-informed care.
  7. Group facilitation skills.
  8. Self-awareness and self-care.
  9. Co-occurring disorders of mental health and substance abuse.
  10. Conflict resolution.
  11. Professional boundaries and ethics.
  12. Safety and crisis planning.
  13. Navigation of, and referral to, other services.
  14. Documentation skills and standards.
  15. Study and test-taking skills.

This program prepares you to succeed.  When you successfully complete the courses and practicum hours with a grade of "C" or better, you are eligible to receive a certificate as a "Peer Specialist for Youth" from Loyola Marymount University. 

Location Addresses:

Loyola Marymount University:  One LMU Drive,  Los Angeles, CA  90045 

SHARE! the Self-Help And Recovery Exchange:  6666 Green Valley Circle, Culver City, CA  90230

Who are transitional-age youth?

Transitional age youth are actually young adults between the ages of 16 and 25. 

Would you like to be a practicum site or employ a program graduate?

Send an email to or phone 310-338-5813 to discuss the possibility of being a practicum site or hiring one of our graduates.  The considerable training the students are receiving in this program will prepare them to make a contribution within your organization.

Would you like to become a program sponsor to help peers receive high quality training beyond what our grant is providing? 

Send an email to or phone 310-338-5813. 

Need more information about the program?

Send an email to or phone 310-338-5813.

Grant Support
This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under:
Grant number:  G02HP30571
Title: Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training for Professionals and Paraprofessionals.
Total award amount:  $300,000
Percentage financed with nongovernmental sources:
This information of content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsement be inferred by HRSA or the U.S. Government.

It is anticipated additional courses will be scheduled.  To find out more information send an email to 

Information on this site may change.  Please check back frequently or phone the office to confirm.