Occ. Code 5572200



New York State Department of Civil Service

Classification Standard


Peer Specialists provide direct mental health services to recipients in emergency, inpatient, outpatient, community support program, and residential settings. They serve as role models for recipients and educate recipients about self-help techniques and self-help group process; teach them effective coping strategies, sometimes based on personal experience; assist them in clarifying their goals for rehabilitation and recovery; and help them to develop support systems. Incumbents perform a range of tasks which are designed to assist recipients in regaining personal control over their lives and over their own recovery processes. Tasks focus on facilitating the development of self-help skills, support systems, coping strategies, and the increased hope and self-esteem that are central to recovery from a psychiatric disability. Peer Specialists model competence and the possibility of recovery, and assist recipients in developing the perspectives and skills that facilitate recovery. Peer Specialists are classified in the Office of Mental Health facilities in the non-competitive jurisdictional classification.



PEER SPECIALIST: entry-level paraprofessional; non-supervisory; provides services which empower individuals receiving mental health services; empathizes with the experiences of recipients and can understand the factors which promote recovery.


Addictions Counselor Assistants, Grade 11, serve as a member of a multidisciplinary clinical treatment team providing a therapy program tailored to the individual needs of patients in an addictions treatment center (ATC). They serve as a secondary therapist for groups of patients in one or more of the component units of a treatment center; assist in the delivery of a comprehensive rehabilitation program through consultation with team members; and assist in individual and group counseling of patients, discharge planning, and community involvement.

Addictions Counselor Assistants are in the non-competitive jurisdictional class and are in the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.


Peer Specialists function in either inpatient or outpatient settings, with considerable independence, as members of the interdisciplinary treatment team. Their job responsibilities will vary according to the type of program in which they work. Incumbents complement the functions of other team members by providing unique perspective on recipients' needs. They generally function in groups in order to provide support and mutual reinforcement. Care is taken to sustain the ability of Peer Specialists to present an alternative view of mental health services.

Peer Specialists job responsibilities are defined within four functional areas: development and application of personalized coping skills; teaching and modeling self-help techniques; development of skills for empowerment and successful community living; and individual and systems advocacy.

Development and application of personalized coping skills.

Teaching and modeling self-help group process, and networking skills.

Convening and facilitating self-help groups and activities; teaching self-help techniques and self-help group process skills to recipients; and facilitating the establishment of peer support networks, natural supports and social support systems.

Development of skills for empowerment and successful community living.

Assist recipients in developing skills that increase self-esteem and provide a sense of hope that is vital to recovery.

Individual and systems advocacy

Provide individual advocacy to assist recipients in understanding and obtaining access to available resources that will assist them in living successfully in the community.

Provide systems advocacy to promote the development of needed services which are not available, to increase the awareness of generic service providers about the needs of mental health services recipients, and to increase mental health service providers' understanding of recipients' perspectives.



Demonstrated interpersonal communications skills and the ability to empathize with, relate to and effectively work with recipients of mental health services AND

two years of active participation in mental health self-help activities, peer support or peer advocacy programs, or recipient run organizations or similar experiences or programs.


NOTE: Classification Standards illustrate the nature, extent and scope of duties and responsibilities of the classes they describe. Standards cannot and do not include all of the work that might be appropriately performed by a class. The minimum qualifications above are those which were required for appointment at the time the Classification Standard was written. Please contact the Division of Staffing Services for current information on minimum qualification requirements for appointment or examination.


Date: 1/02