The Role of the Peer Specialists: Unanswered Questions

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Abstract

Topic: This article raises questions regarding defining the role of peer specialists and related employment practices. Purpose: The questions raised may be used to guide future research. Sources Used: Areas needing further investigation were identified through personal and professional experience, discussions with colleagues, and a review of published literature on peer workers. Conclusions and Implications for Practice: Questions are raised regarding the definition of “peerness”; the variety and contradictions in definitions of the role of the peer specialist; existing and potential avenues for career advancement; credentialing standards; the design, implementation, and evaluation of existing and effective peer support service models, including integration of peer workers in other service models; and best practices for supporting the well-being of peer workers and their nonpeer colleagues. More and higher quality research data are needed in order to inform and contribute to the use and support of peer specialists in promoting positive system transformation.

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