Peer Supporter Definition

What a Peer Supporter is.

A peer supporter is an individual with a life-altering lived experience of psychiatric, substance use, or other challenges who has made a personal commitment to his or her own recovery and has a desire to use what was learned from one’s own lived experiences to assist others with similar challenges.


Lived experience alone does not make someone a peer supporter. Peer support specialists relevant training (determined on a state-by-state basis) on using personal experiences to inspire hope, and support someone in taking personal responsibility. Peer supporters promote increased self-awareness, self-determination, self-advocacy, and a sense of empowerment in those receiving recovery support services.

In 2012, the National Association of Peer Specialist (N.A.P.S.) embarked upon an inclusive process, with assistance from a panel convened by SAMHSA, to establish National Practice Guidelines for the emerging profession of Peer Support, as a first step in a possible national credential.

Following a series of national focus groups and surveys, in which over 1000 peer support providers participated, 98% agreed with the core values and practice guidelines, which were published in the summer of 2013 as the National Practice Guidelines for Peer Supporters.

In 2018, N.A.P.S. embarked on a similar process to develop National Practice Standards for Peer Support Supervisors.