How to Become a Recovery Coach in Kentucky

A Kentucky peer support specialist (PSS) is a state-certified peer recovery coach. The specialist starts out in recovery and is trained to mentor individuals with an addiction or mental issue to overcome their struggle and achieve long-term sobriety.

Mental health agencies and caregivers treating or otherwise helping addicts and the mentally ill increasingly incorporate peer support specialists and recovery coaches in their work. Their clients can draw valuable lessons from the lived experiences of the certified coaches mentoring them.

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What Does a Recovery Coach Do?

As a certified Kentucky recovery coach or peer support specialist, you should be in recovery for an addiction or a psychiatric disorder. Also, you must have successfully navigated and know your way around the state’s care systems for people with behavioral and mental health issues. Your job as a PSS is to share your success story with others and help them to victory over the various obstacles in their way.

Whether working as an adult, family or youth recovery coach in Kentucky, your key responsibilities to recovering clients will include:

  • Serving as a role model
  • Advocating for their voice and interests during the development and implementation of their treatment/recovery plans
  • Representing them in meetings when necessary
  • Disclosing your mental/substance use story to inspire
  • Helping them navigate the system of care and access support services like treatment, food and shelter
  • Helping them create recovery plans and set/achieve life goals
  • Helping them become responsible adults to smoothly re-integrate into the community
  • Inspiring into self-advocacy and independent living

You can work in any of the various community institutions or settings that provide peer recovery support services throughout Kentucky. Examples include:

  • Faith-based institutions and non-profits
  • Recovery homes
  • Drug/addiction rehabilitation centers
  • Hospitals
  • The justice system
  • Peer-run recovery centers
  • Sober housing

Benefits of Becoming a Certified Peer Support Specialist or Recovery Coach

Drug addicts, local communities and mental health care systems derive immense value from the work of peer support specialists. According to Psychiatric Quarterly, those working as peer mentors or coaches can also benefit from their empowering, life-giving efforts. Typical career rewards for them include personal growth and: 

  • Healing, reducing the need for in-patient services
  • Improved self-esteem and confidence in one’s abilities
  • Sense of empowerment
  • Trained peer coaches usually cope better with sickness
  • Meaningful employment, resulting in a better quality of life
  • Professional growth, which comes with work experience and life-long learning
  • Access to an extensive social support network
  • Self -discovery

Requirements to Become a Certified Kentucky PSS or Recovery Coach

The Kentucky Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities (DBHDID) dictates education and professional requirements for certified peer support specialists. You can qualify for state-approved PSS training if you’re a Kentucky resident with a history of drug/alcohol use or a mental health disorder. While you must be in recovery when applying, there’s no specific duration of abstinence or sobriety required to be considered.

Other preconditions you must fulfill for peer support specialist training and certification in the state include:

  • You must be 18 years old or older
  • Must have at least a high school diploma or GED
  • Received or currently receiving mental health/addiction treatment
  • Complete a 30-hour peer support course approved by the state
  • Pass a written and oral certification test

Your Kentucky peer support specialist certification is only valid for one year. You must complete at least six hours of relevant continuing education (CE) every 12 months to renew it. You’ll be doing this annually to maintain your state PSS credentials and expand your knowledge and income potential.  

Where to Train as a Kentucky Recovery Coach

Peer support education is an eye opener for participants, including those who have recovered from addiction or a mental disorder. It enables you to understand better the stages and fundamental concepts of the recovery journey. You become more effective in helping your peers after gaining new skills such as:

  • Problem-solving
  • Establishing goals
  • Listening and communication
  • Ethics/best practices
  • Dealing with negative self-talk

Here’s a look at four providers of state-approved peer support specialist training in Kentucky.

New Vista Academy

New Vista Academy has numerous online programs offering state-approved content. If you meet the DBHDID criteria for adult peer support specialist certification, you can apply to the five-day, 30-hour virtual training. Be sure to attach two letters of reference to your application.

The organization offers live interactive classes that students can access through Zoom. To complete training, students must participate in all scheduled video and audio conferencing sessions. 

Trainees pay $300 to attend PSS classes at New Vista. The institution may facilitate sponsorship for select self-paying participants and reduce their fees by half. This offer isn’t available to individuals sponsored by their employer or any other organization to train at New Vista.

The Training Center

Kentucky residents interested in a peer recovery support career have multiple 30-hour training options to explore at The Training Center. The virtual programs, which meet or exceed DBHDID certification requirements, include:

  • Adult peer support specialist: Classes are held via Zoom. When applying online, you must pay a $200 registration fee and submit an essay to demonstrate your communication skills. Also, provide a reference who must fill out a separate form confirming your diagnosis/recovery experience.
  • Family support specialist: To qualify for this training, you must be a parent or family relative who has raised a child who has received professional mental health or addiction services. The Kentucky family leadership academy (KFLA) certification approved by the DBHDID is mandatory for applicants. The registration fee for the course is $250.
  • Youth peer support specialist: This course is for people aged between 18 and 35 years who are in recovery and have received addiction or mental illness treatment in a state-funded program. To qualify for this training, you must be a certified KFLA from a program that the Department of Behavioral Health has endorsed. The classes cost $250.

North Kentucky University (NKU)

NKU has about 16,000 students, some of which train for state certification as Kentucky peer support specialists. The part-time recovery coach course spreads out over seven weeks and offers some flexibility to participants with a busy everyday calendar. It provides 45 hours of approved coursework, exceeding the state’s minimum requirement of 30.

Participation eligibility includes demonstrating recovery progress and satisfying other state certification prerequisites. Students take written and oral exams after completing the online training. You must score 70% or higher on the test to pass and earn your certified PPS credential.

The U.S Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) funds this program. Participants don’t pay anything out of pocket to register and train with NKU as Kentucky peer support specialists. This sponsorship also covers instructional material, testing fees and certification.

Mental Health America (MHA) of Northern Kentucky

Apart from promoting mental health in Kentucky, MHA provides remote peer support specialist classes that qualify successful participants for state certification. It takes five days to complete the 40-hour virtual training via Zoom. While MHA offers this curriculum in Kentucky and Ohio, applicants should remember that the official credentials for each state aren’t interchangeable.

MHA requires you to answer a few questions in essay format to assess your skills before they accept your application. Expected responses include a description of your addiction or mental illness and recovery experience. You must also discuss your vision of becoming a certified peer support specialist.

Two letters of reference from individuals or healthcare specialists involved in your treatment are mandatory to qualify for peer support specialist training at MHA. It’s best to include one from your psychiatrist if you’re recovering from a mental disorder. If your case is substance addiction, consider requesting your sponsor to endorse you for the program.

The training fee is $350, with a few full scholarships awarded on request to deserving participants on a first-come, first-served basis.

Recovery Coach and PSS Salaries in Kentucky

According to ZipRecruiter’s analysis of salary data from job postings and third-party sources, a Kentucky peer support specialist earns about $27,125 annually or $13.04 an hour. Most Kentucky recovery coach salaries are in the $23,715 to $32,499 pay range, while the highest paid in the field make approximately $36,451 yearly. 

Your location can determine your income and economic advancement potential as a peer recovery professional. For the best salary prospects in the state, consider exploring top-paying cities like Hebron, Frankfort and Covington, where the average hourly rate is at least $15. London and Louisville have some of the lowest average wages in Kentucky at about $13 per hour.

Professional Recovery Coach Career Outlook

There are more than 30,000 peer support specialists and recovery coaches in the U.S., according to Psychiatric Quarterly. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that these professionals, health educators and community health workers have a combined employment growth rate of 12% on average from 2021 to 2031. With the 16,000 openings expected annually within the 10-year period, the job sector is doing much better than many other occupations nationwide.