Integrating Peer Support into Your Organization: Lessons Learned, Moving Forward


SAMHSA’s National Center for Trauma-Informed Care and Alternatives to Restraint and Seclusion (NCTIC) is pleased to announce the opportunity to participate in an upcoming Virtual Learning Network (VLN): “Integrating Peer Support into Your Organization.” 

Over the last 10 years, two overlapping developments in behavioral health services have seen exponential growth. First, peer support has increasingly been incorporated as an integral component of the behavioral health service delivery system to promote recovery, wellness, and resiliency.  Second, more and more community behavioral health and allied service and health agencies and organizations are seeking to develop trauma-informed approaches in the way they deliver services. Concurrently, state and local systems are looking at new ways to address adverse childhood experiences, child abuse and neglect, bullying, interpersonal violence, sexual and gender-based violence, community violence, and more. 

In response to these trends, more and more states have developed peer specialist training and certification requirements, and have identified sustained mechanisms for reimbursing peer support services, whether through Medicaid waiver programs, managed care, block grant, or other financing approaches. On the other hand, systematic efforts to help organizations integrate peer support in a trauma-informed manner have been spotty, whether in leadership support, policy development, staff buy-in, clarity of roles, recruitment and hiring, or supervision and staff retention. 

The purpose of this VLN is to help participating organizations effectively integrate, implement, and sustain peer supports using a trauma-informed approach as part of a broader effort to become a trauma-informed organization.


This “working” classroom event consists of monthly facilitated virtual classroom presentations on the Adobe® Connect™ platform. Course work and materials will help participants to understand and implement the principles of trauma-informed approaches and facilitate meaningful peer involvement. Sessions include a collaborative partnership with VLN colleagues – sharing challenges and innovations with other group members. Participants will also have access to ongoing coaching and may be able to receive on-site technical assistance.

Each organization will include two or more key staff members who will form an active virtual learning team and oversee implementation of peer integration in their respective organizations. These staff members should be viewed as recovery champions by their colleagues and hold decision making capacity. It is recommended that at least one of the participants self-identify as a trauma survivor and/or a person in recovery.

This VLN will:

  1. Explore SAMHSA’s principles of trauma-informed care and implementation domains;
  2. Share best practices and practical perspectives on peer integration through diverse guest presentations;
  3. Identify the opportunities and barriers to meaningful involvement of peers throughout all levels of the organization or program;
  4. Help participating organizations formulate action plans for increased peer integration; and
  5. Provide individualized technical assistance to help organizations implement their action plans and sustain changes over time.