Standards of Practice

The Standards of Practice for certification contain the mandatory requirements for a peer supporter to obtain a national certification credential. They have been developed in consultation with peer support workers from across Canada.

The standards of practice consist of four components: knowledge, experience, competencies, and a code of conduct. Each of the standards is briefly explained below. In due course, PSACC will be developing appropriate assessment tools to determine if candidates applying for certification meet the mandatory requirements.

The knowledge standard identifies the type of information that a certified peer supporter will need to know in order to be fully prepared to do quality peer support work. A few examples of the required knowledge include: understanding the recovery paradigm; the importance of self-determination and empowerment; self-care; limits and boundaries related to peer support; honouring social and cultural diversity; and concepts and methods that promote effective, recovery-oriented relationships.  More detail can be found in the PSACC Knowledge Matrix.

The experience standard consists of two different types of mandatory experience – one is that candidates must have lived experience of a mental health condition or be a family member/loved one of someone with personal lived experience. The other is on-the-job experience in providing peer support. This latter type of experience is expected to be obtained through a practicum under the guidance of an experienced peer support mentor.

The competencies standard consists of the core competencies deemed essential for certification as a peer supporter. A few examples are interpersonal relations, communication, and critical thinking. Competencies are demonstrated through observable behaviours and they reflect the capacity of individuals to draw upon, integrate and apply inherent ability, acquired knowledge, skill and experience to successfully perform a work role, function, or task.

The code of conduct standard sets out the rules of conduct expected of those who apply to become certified peer supporters. It constitutes the accountability instrument that will be considered binding when signed by peer supporters seeking national certification. Having a code of conduct as a component part of the national standards of practice is foreseen to increase stakeholder confidence in mental health peer support. It is also expected to increase the general public’s trust in this non-clinical mental health intervention.

Certification processes are now being piloted.  Meeting our goal of having peer support more widely acknowledged as a valuable and respected component of the mental health system requires us to spend significant time and attention ensuring the validity, reliability, and fairness of the assessment tools and processes.  We are pleased with the progress and results to date in our pilot province and look forward to offering this assessment and credential granting process to other provinces, territories, and regions across Canada.

The PSACC Certification Handbook outlines the Standard of Practice and certification process.