New Training Resource for Supervisors of Peers and Recovery Coaches

Recently, a new resource on the Supervision of Peer Based Recovery Support Services has been published under a grant from the Regional Facilitation Center and the Oregon Health Authority, specifically from the Health Services Division of the OHA. This is a resource is designed for the training of supervisors of Peer Recovery Support Specialists and Recovery Coaches.

Peer-based recovery support services (P-BRSS) have grown exponentially in recent years as an adjunct, and in some cases, an alternative to professionally-directed addiction treatment. P-BRSS are also being integrated within allied human services, primary health care, the child welfare system, the criminal justice system, and managed behavioral healthcare organizations. Reviews of the research to date on P-BRSS (See White, 2009; Reif, et al, 2014; Boisvert, et al, 2008) suggest salutatory effects of such services on long-term recovery outcomes. A growing body of literature explores such areas as the history and theoretical foundation of P-BRSS, the role of such services within drug policy, the integration of P-BRSS into recovery community organizations, avoiding role ambiguity and role conflicts in the delivery of P-BRSS, and ethical issues that arise in the delivery of P-BRSS.

But surprisingly little has been written on the supervision of peer recovery support services. Through support of a grant from the Oregon Health Authority (Health Services Division), Substance Use Disorder Peer Supervision Competencies has just been completed. The report is authored by Eric Martin, Anthony Jordan, Michael Razavi, Van Burnham, IV, Ally Linfoot, Monta Knudson, Erin Devet, Linda Hudson, and Lakeesha Dumas. J. Thomas Shrewsbury. Dr. Jeff Marotta, Dr. Ruch Bichsel, and Kitty Martz served as editors. The supervisory competencies are organized within four sections of the report: Recovery-Oriented Philosophy, Providing Education & Training, Facilitating Quality Supervision, and Performing Administrative Duties. This document is an invaluable resource for organizations involved in the recruitment, selection, orientation, training, and on-going supervision and evaluation of recovery coaches and other support specialists. It stands as an excellent complement to SAMHSA’s 2015 Core Competencies for Peer Workers in Behavioral Health Services.

I think the greatest mistake that could be made in guiding the delivery of P-BRSS would be to assume that traditional models of clinical supervision within addiction treatment can be indiscriminately applied to the supervision of P-BRSS delivery. If that occurs, peers providing recovery support service will be turned into little more than junior counselors and the potential vitality of that role and the broader role of community in long-term recovery will be lost.

P-BRSS require a distinct role definition, different standards of practice, and different models of supervision. Substance Use Disorder Peer Supervision Competencies will help assure such distinctiveness. I commend this report to all organizations providing peer-based recovery support services.

This blog post has been written by William White. The link to this article at the William White Papers web site is:

William (Bill) White is an Emeritus Senior Research Consultant at Chestnut Health Systems / Lighthouse Institute and past-chair of the board of Recovery Communities United. Bill has a Master’s degree in Addiction Studies and has worked full time in the addictions field since 1969 as a street worker, counselor, clinical director, researcher and well-traveled trainer and consultant.   He has authored or co-authored more than 400 articles, monographs, research reports and book chapters and 18 books. His book, Slaying the Dragon – The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America, received the McGovern Family Foundation Award for the best book on addiction recovery. Bill was featured in the Bill Moyers’ PBS special “Close to Home: Addiction in America” and Showtime’s documentary “Smoking, Drinking and Drugging in the 20th Century.” Bill’s sustained contributions to the field have been acknowledged by awards from the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, NAADAC: The Association of Addiction Professionals, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and the Native American Wellbriety Movement. Bill’s widely read papers on recovery advocacy have been published by the Johnson Institute in a book entitled Let’s Go Make Some History: Chronicles of the New Addiction Recovery Advocacy Movement.

You can contact Bill White at: or

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