Utah Administrative Code

The Utah Administrative Code is the body of all effective administrative rules as compiled and organized by the Division of Administrative Rules (see Subsection 63G-3-102(5); see also Sections 63G-3-701 and 702).

NOTE: For a list of rules that have been made effective since January 1, 2020, please see the codification segue page.

NOTE TO RULEFILING AGENCIES: Use the RTF version for submitting rule changes.

R523. Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

Rule R523-5. Peer Support Specialist Training and Certification.

As in effect on January 1, 2020

Table of Contents

R523-5-1. Purpose.

(1) Purpose. This rule prescribes standards for certification of Peer Support Specialist Training programs; the qualifications required of instructors for providing Peer Support Training; and the requirements to become a Peer Support Specialist and establishes guidelines for population specific peer support services.

R523-5-2. Authority.

(1) These standards are promulgated by the Utah Department of Human Services through the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health as authorized by Subsection 62A-15-103(2)(v).

R523-5-3. Intent.

(1) The objective of the peer support specialist training is to establish training programs to certify individuals that have completed requisite training to work as substance use disorder and/or mental health peer support specialists and provide services based on service guidelines.

R523-5-4. Definitions.

(1) "Peer Support Specialist (PSS)" is an individual who has successfully completed an approved Peer Support Specialist Training Program and for ongoing certification has met the requirements outlined in Section R523-5-8.

(2) "Approved Curriculum" means a curriculum which has been approved by the Division in accordance with these rules.

(3) "Certification" means that the Division verifies the individual has met the requirements outlined in this rule to be a peer support specialist and has completed the required training.

(4) "Director" means the Director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

(5) "Division" means the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

(6) "Peer Support Specialist Training Program" is an instructional series operated by an approved agency or organization which satisfies the standards established by the Division and is herein referred to as a "Peer Support Specialist Training Program".

(7) "Program Certificate" is a written authorization issued by the Division to the training entity which indicates that the Program has been found to be in compliance with these Division standards.

(8) "Recovery" is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.

(9) "Youth-In-Transition" means young people who are between the ages of 16 and 25, or those outside of this age range for which peer support services have been deemed developmentally and socially appropriate by a licensed mental health therapist.

R523-5-5. Certification Requirements for Peer Support Specialist Training Programs.

(1) An application for Program Certification will require that the program provide, among other things:

(a) Qualifications of individuals who will be providing the training.

(b) A curriculum that outlines no less than forty (40) hours of face-to-face instruction covering the curriculum requirements outlined in Section R523-5-7 for a PSS.

(c) A plan to ensure that instructors continue to meet reported qualifications and adhere to the approved curriculum.

(d) An agreement to maintain records of the individual's attendance and completion of all program requirements for at least seven years.

(e) An agreement to comply with all applicable local, state and federal laws and regulations.

(2) The Division Director has the authority to grant exceptions to any of the certification requirements.

R523-5-6. Division Oversight of Program.

(1) The Division may enter and survey the physical facility, program operation, review curriculum and interview staff to determine compliance with this rule or any applicable contract to provide such services.

(2) The PSS Training Program shall also allow representatives from the Division and from the local authorities as authorized by the Division to attend the classes held. Such visits may be announced or unannounced.

(3) The Division will establish an application process to review and approve applicants for the PSS Training Program. This process will:

(a) Develop and publish an application to be a PSS.

(b) Solicit input from stakeholders, PSS's and other individuals on the review process.

(c) Establish further criteria for acceptance into the PSS program as needed.

R523-5-7. Curriculum Requirements for Adult Peer Support Specialist Training Programs.

(1) This curriculum shall provide at least forty (40) hours of instruction for original certification and twenty (20) hours for any and all re-certifications. The curriculum shall include the following components as they relate to the PSS's lived experience and recovery in order to assist in the identified client's strengths working towards recovery:

(a) Etiology of mental illness and substance use disorders;

(b) The stages of recovery from mental illness and substance use disorders;

(c) The relapse prevention process;

(d) Combating negative self-talk;

(e) The Role of peer support in the recovery process and using your recovery story as a recovery tool;

(f) Dynamics of change;

(g) Ethics of peer support;

(h) Professional relationships, boundaries and limits;

(i) Scope of peer support;

(j) Cultural competence: self-awareness - cultural identity;

(k) Stigma and labeling;

(l) Community resources to support individuals in recovery;

(m) Assisting individuals in accomplishing recovery goals;

(n) Coach, mentor, and role model recovery;

(o) Assist in identification of natural, formal and informal supports;

(p) Stress management techniques;

(q) Assist individuals in reaching educational and vocational goals;

(r) Crisis prevention; and

(s) Assist with physical health and wellness.

(2) The curriculum shall include:

(a) Active listening and communication skills; and

(b) Basic motivational interviewing skills.

(3) The curriculum must include a strong emphasis on ethical behavior, dual relationships, scope of peer support and professional boundaries and should include case studies, role plays and experiential learning.

R523-5-8. Requirements to Become a PSS.

(1) Be an individual who participated in substance use disorder or mental health treatment services who is now in sustained recovery, or

(2) Be an individual in recovery from substance use or mental health disorders through means other than treatment services who is now in sustained recovery.

(3) Be at least 18 years of age.

(4) Complete the application process with the Division.

(5) Pass the qualification exam with score of 70% or above.

(6) Have attended and successfully completed a Division approved PSS training program and have a valid certificate from that training.

(7) If an individual fails the Division examination twice within a 30 day period of time, they must wait 30 days before taking the examination again.

R523-5-9. Requirements to Remain Qualified as a PSS.

(1) Complete at least twenty (20) hours of continuing education (CEUs) every two (2) years including two (2) hours of ethics training, six (6) hours pertaining specifically to peer support services, one (1) hour of suicide prevention training and eleven (11) hours of general mental health and/or substance use disorder training.

(2) Each PSS shall maintain adequate documentation as proof of compliance with this Section, such as a certificate of completion, school transcript, course description, or other course materials. The PSS shall retain this proof for a period of three years after the end of the renewal cycle for which the continuing education is due; and

(a) At a minimum, the documentation shall contain the following:

(i) Date of the course;

(ii) Name of the course provider;

(iii) Name of the instructor;

(iv) Course title;

(v) Number of hours of continuing education credit; and

(vi) Course objectives.

(3) Each certified PSS shall abide by the Provider Code of Conduct pursuant to Section R495-876, and as also found in the Department of Human Services Provider Code of Conduct Policy.

(a) Each employer that becomes aware of a certified PSS engaging in unprofessional or unlawful conduct, or has violated the provider code of conduct shall:

(i) immediately take action to review the allegations,

(ii) take steps to ensure that all individuals involved with the allegation are protected, and

(iii) notify the Division within 30 days.

(b) Termination of certification shall be made effective immediately if the alleged violation(s) results in one or more of the following:

(i) personal financial gain through deception, or a business transaction with a client, by the PSS,

(ii) physical or emotional harm to a person that is caused by the PSS, or

(iii) a financial loss to a client, the State, or another employee that is caused by the PSS.

(c) The Division shall take the following actions when it becomes aware of a certified PSS in violation of the provider code of conduct that does not result in immediate termination:

(i) Within 30 days of becoming aware of the violation(s), the Division shall notify the certified PSS, in writing, through a Notice of Agency Action specifying the area(s) of noncompliance.

(ii) Within 30 days of receiving a notice of Agency Action, the certified PSS shall submit an acceptable written plan to the Division explaining how they will achieve compliance.

(iii) All plans shall demonstrate how the certified PSS shall be in compliance within 30 days after receiving the Notice of Agency Action.

(iv) If an acceptable plan of action is not received by the Division within 30 days of sending the Notice of Agency Action, the certified PSS shall be notified that their certification has been suspended until an acceptable plan is submitted to the Division.

(v) A certified PSS must cease providing any and all peer support services until a suspension is lifted.

(d) The Division shall revoke the certification of any certified PSS for the following reasons:

(i) The certified PSS fails to provide the Division with written evidence of compliance to a plan of action within 30 days after the PSS receives a Notice of Agency Action that their certification has been suspended.

(ii) The certified PSS continues to provide peer support services during the period of a suspension; or

(iii) The certified PSS receives more than two notices of noncompliance with the Provider Code of Conduct in a one-year period.

(e) Any PSS whose certification has been revoked may request an informal hearing with the Division director or designee, in writing, within 10 business days of receiving notice of revocation.

(f) The Division director or designee shall review the request and determine to uphold, amend or reverse the action within 10 business days, and the Division shall inform the PSS of the decision in writing.

(g) Any PSS with a revoked certification may not reapply for recertification for a period of twelve months.

(h) If a certified PSS fails to complete the requirements for CEUs, their certificate will be allowed to expire and shall not be renewed until the required CEUs have been completed and submitted to the Division for approval.

R523-5-10. Population Specific Guidelines.

(1) Typically a PSS works with individuals age 18 and older.

(2) A PSS may work with Youth-In-Transition if the PSS has completed Youth-In-Transition training, in addition to any other PSS training, of no less than 8 hours, and receives a Youth-In-Transition endorsement from the Division on their PSS certification.

R523-5-11. Curriculum Requirements for Youth-In-Transition Training Programs.

(1) This curriculum shall provide at least eight (8) hours of instruction for the Youth-In-Transition endorsement of PSS certification. The curriculum, which shall be approved by the Division, shall include, but not be limited to, the following components as they relate to Youth-In-Transition:

(a) Meaning of Youth-In-Transition and specific challenges related to this population;

(b) Preferred practice models and tools;

(c) Population specific material regarding: common challenges, barriers, resources, relationship issues, recovery, housing, employment, legal, crisis, cultural and self-care.

(d) Professional relationships, boundaries and limits.

(2) The curriculum must be strength based and shall include:

(a) Active listening and communication skills; and

(b) Basic motivational interviewing skills.

(3) The curriculum shall include a strong emphasis on ethical behavior, dual relationships, scope of peer support and professional boundaries and shall include case studies, role plays and experiential learning specific to Youth-In-Transition.

(4) The Division, PSS, mental health and substance use disorder professionals and advocate organizations shall regularly review and make evidence-based updates to the curriculum at least every two years. Final determination on curriculum changes or updates shall be made by the Division.


peer support specialists, PSS program, certification of programs, substance use disorder

Date of Enactment or Last Substantive Amendment

January 29, 2019

Authorizing, Implemented, or Interpreted Law


Additional Information


For questions regarding the content or application of rules under Title R523, please contact the promulgating agency (Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health). A list of agencies with links to their homepages is available at http://www.utah.gov/government/agencylist.html or from http://www.rules.utah.gov/contact/agencycontacts.htm.