Transformation Center


Voicing lived experience...Generating mental health wellness through community, policy, training and peer support

Massachusetts Certified Peer Specialist (CPS)Training Program




Certified Peer Specialist Brochure PDF

CPS Frequently Asked Questions PDF

CPS Info 617-807-0222 (call/text)


                                       Spring 2020 Certified Peer Specialist Training 

                                             INTERVIEWS ARE NOW CLOSED


What is Peer Support?

“Peer Support” is a relationship between people with similar experiences.  It is a mutually valuable exchange of hope, encouragement, connection, understanding, information and/or assistance.  “I’ve been there” is one of the most validating and useful things a person can say or hear. In the mental health recovery movement, peer support relationships are among people who have experienced emotional distress, trauma and/or been given a mental health diagnosis.

The Massachusetts Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) Training

This is a rigorous training for people preparing for a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) role in the community or service system.  CPS is not an entry-level position and the training is designed for people who have some knowledge and experience with peer support.

A CPS has been trained to share their experiences of mental health recovery, services and supports and to carry the message that Recovery is Real!   In sharing our wisdom, strength and hope with others (including people using services, mental health professionals and policy makers) CPSs can significantly impact peoples’ beliefs about their own capacity to recover and the capacity of others to recover.

The CPS program includes classes that covers 24+ modules, small group activities and homework.  The program supports students to inspire hope in people they support and work with.  After completing the class,  students are eligible to take a written examination for the CPS Certificate.  Students demonstrate a host of abilities that are necessary in the Certified Peer Specialist’s role, including:

The Three Core Competencies:  Peer Support, “In” but not “Of” the System, Change Agent
The Shoulders Upon Which We Stand
Advanced Fundamentals of Peer Support
Human Experience Language
Cross-Cultural Partnering
Fear: Friend and Foe
Group Facilitation and Self-Help Tools
Power, Conflict and Integrity
Creating the Life One Wants

Do I need to be trained as a CPS to give Peer Support?

No!  Peer relationships change lives and foster recovery anywhere that people seek and give support based on shared experiences. There are far more opportunities and places to offer peer support than there are paid roles for Certified Peer Specialists.  Peer support happens informally and in paid and volunteer roles that do not require CPS training and certification.  It is expected that people applying for the CPS training have some experience giving and receiving support in peer relationships.

Peer support trainings of many kinds are offered by a variety of organizations for people with or without experience with peer support.  Many provide a certificate of completion or offer their own certification program, for example the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) Facilitator training.   Regional Recovery Learning Communities (RLCs) can tell you about peer support opportunities that do not require CPS.

CPS Code of Ethics

As part of their training, Certified Peer Specialists (CPSs) commit to peer support and collegial relationships that are guided by the Massachusetts CPS Code of Ethics (updated 2015).   Putting these 14 principles into practice is vital to protecting the mutuality of relationships and the integrity of the CPS role. The CPS Code of Ethics is particularly useful for working in programs that are based on a medical model of care. Other members of the peer support workforce may also use the CPS Code of Ethics to guide their work, including volunteers, Young Adult Mentors and Peer Facilitators.

Eligibility for the CPS Training

  1. 18 years of age or older
  2. Living or working in Massachuetts
  3. High School Diploma or equivalent (GED, HiSET, etc)
  4. Lived experience with mental health, emotional health and/or trauma resulting in significant life disruption
  5. Willingness to share your recovery story in the context of peer support

Preparing for CPS Training

The CPS training is not an entry-level training.  It is designed for people who have already done some work (volunteer or paid) in peer support roles and have thought about what working in a peer support role would mean for them.

Tools to help you focus and assess your skills in one-to-one and group peer support, sharing your story to insure hope and being an agent for change (links below):

CPS Brochure

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Training Self-assessment

Code of Ethics

Preparation Manual

The application process considers the following as supports for success in the CPS training and in the role:

  • The applicant demonstrates a foundation of knowledge and experience in peer-to-peer relationships and understands the peer specialist role in the mental health system.
  • The applicant has basic knowledge about the differences between a maintenance-based mental health system and one that is recovery-oriented.
  • The applicant has knowledge of recovery through personal experience and experience with leadership, advocacy, or other relevant peer support roles.
  • The applicant is committed to completing the CPS course, taking the CPS exam, and working as a CPS in mental health and other service systems.

Final decisions take into account our mandate to compose a class that includes diverse perspectives and world views, and makes admission a priority for people currently employed as a CPS.

Steps to Apply and QuickLinks

PLEASE read below for important details, eligibility, preparation and requirements for the CPS Training.  Your ability to follow these instructions is part of our evaluation of readiness for training.   Summary of the interview and application process:

1) Review “CPS Training Eligibility” above
2) Assess your readiness for CPS Training using the “CPS Training Self-assessment”
3) Schedule an interview on the “CPS Portal” and look for an automatic confirmation email from “The Transformation Center”.  Check your spam file if you do not recieve a confirmation email.
4) Complete the “CPS Application” Link will arrive in your interview confirmation email
5) Obtain two “Letters of Recommendation”
6) Upload and submit letters and/or application at the “CPS Portal” 24 hours before your interview or bring letters and/or application to your interview.

“CPS Brochure”

“FAQs” download

CPS Contact:  617-807-0222 (call/text) or  email


Schedule Your Interview



CPS Portal

Please click on CPS Portal to schedule an interview


Please plan for the interview process to take about one hour, including check in, wait time and 15 minute interview.  An email address is required to schedule an interview and to participate in the CPS Training.

Scheduling must be completed though the CPS PortalYou will recieve an automatic confirmation email with a link to the CPS Application.  Check your spam folder if you do not recieve confirmation.
You may reschedule or cancel your CPS interview online from the CPS Portal until 24 hour prior to your interview.
617-807-0222 (call or text) to cancel or request a change less than 24 hours before your interview.


CPS Application

Applications are accessible ONLY from your CPS Interview confirmation email and text.  Your responses will be discussed during the interview.

There are 3 ways to submit your application:

  1. Online (preferred) until 24 hours before your interview.
  2. Print, complete and upload through CPS Portal at least 24 hours before your interview.
  3. Print, complete and bring to your interview

Letters of Recommendation for CPS Application

  • Two (2) letters of recommendation are required.
  • We encourage you to request letters as soon as you decide to schedule an interview.  Some applicants request letters from more than 2 people to help ensure they will be done before your interview.
  • Letters should be written specifically for this application.
  • Please do not submit a recommendation you obtained as part of a past CPS applications or for another purpose.

Request letters of recommendation from people that have a good understanding of your characteristics and skills and how they might apply to the CPS role.  Potential references include  employers, volunteer supervisors, educators, friends, or other people that know you well.  We are interested in your ability to form supportive relationships and any experience you have with peer support.

One letter of recommendation must be from someone directly involved in peer support.

Family members may not provide letters of recommendation. Recommendations from treatment providers detailing your “mental health diagnosis” and treatment are discouraged.

There are 2 ways to submit your letters of recommendation:

  1. Upload through CPS Portal  up to 24 hours before your interview.
  2. Bring to your interview

CPS Portal

Go to our CPS Portal for most things related to the CPS Training:

  • Schedule your interview before the deadline
  • Reschedule or cancel before the deadline
  • Email or call the CPS team
  • Upload application materials (2 recommendation letters and your application)

The Vcita online platform is secure, well established and consistently reviewed as user-friendly and safe.   It allows you to login using your email and maintains security by requiring you to go to your inbox to confirm it is you.   At anytime, you can go to the CPS Portal to view or change your schedule, documents uploaded and communication with the CPS Team.

You may click “logout”, “forget me” or “enter a different email” from various screens in the portal to remove your email from the portal’s immediate memory.   To keep the memory clear you will need to repeat this after each time you submit something or communicate through the portal.

CPS Supervisor Resources

Training Materials & Links

Retesting & Tutoring

If you wish to retake the CPS exam or schedule individual tutoring to prepare for retaking the exam please email

Recent Classes

  •  Winter 2019-Beverly, MA completed December 2019
  •  Fall 2019-Holyoke, MA  completed October 2019
  • Summer 2019 – Milford, MA – completed June 2019
  • Spring 2019 – Boston, MA – completed April 2019
  • Spring 2019 – Fall River, MA – completed April 2019
  • Winter 2019 – Chelmsford, MA – completed January 2019
  • Fall 2018 – YMCA, Worcester – completed November 1, 2018
  • Summer 2018 – La Quinta Inn, Springfield – completed August 30, 2018
  • Winter 2018 – Bedford VA Hospital, Bedford – completed March 15, 2018
  • Fall 2017 – KIVA Center, Central Mass RLC, Worcester – completed Nov. 16, 2017
  • Spring 2017 – VINFEN Training Center, Somerville – completed Jun 2, 2017
  • Winter 2017 – Cape Point Hotel, W. Yarmouth – completed Feb 17, 2017
  • Fall 2016 – Holyoke Community College, Holyoke – completed Nov 16, 2016
  • Spring 2016 – Easton – completed May, 2016
  • Winter 2016 – Lexington – completed Jun, 2016
  • Fall 2015 – KIVA Center, Central MA RLC, Worcester – completed Nov 16, 2015

Policy Manual

All the policies related to the CPS class, including the application process, acceptance process, class design and testing, are described in the manual.

CPS Program Policy Manual (approved January 2018)

Oversight Committee

The CPS Oversight Committee advises the CPS Training Program Coordinator regarding all aspects of the program, including curriculum, training and testing processes, policy and procedures, program evaluation, and meeting the needs of the community.

Membership is made up of people with expertise in education, research, testing, hiring and integrating Certified Peer Specialists into the public mental health system, CPS practitioners and persons with lived experience who are not CPS.

Oversight Committee Members June 2017


April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September no meeting

August 2017

July no meeting

June 2017

January – May 2017




Contact the Massachusetts Certified Peer Specialist Training Team 

For the fastest response to questions about the CPS training program call/text CPS Info 617-807-0222
or email