How to Become a Recovery Coach in Minnesota

A certified recovery coach is a person who has gone through the recovery process and now wishes to work with others who are also recovering from substance abuse, addiction or mental illness. Recovery coaches serve as mentors, role models, advisors and advocates.

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As a peer recovery coach, you may work in a medical clinic, hospital, rehab center, residential facility or community center. Many recovery coaches are employed by courts or other components of the criminal justice system.

The recovery coach fills the emotional, social, and practical needs that aren’t addressed by physicians, psychologists, addiction counselors and other licensed professionals. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) identifies four areas in which peer recovery coaches provide support:

  • Emotional—Listen with empathy and concern
  • Informational—Help others find resources and information in the community, such as community services
  • Instrumental—Assist those in recovery in planning for matters like as housing, employment or childcare
  • Affiliation—Connect your peers to support groups and activities in the community

Recovery is considered to be the responsibility of the individual in recovery, and every person’s recovery journey is different. However, studies show that a person in recovery who works with a recovery coach has a greater chance of long-term success. As a recovery coach, you can support individuals through one-on-one mentorship and guidance. Your role may include helping the person in recovery overcome obstacles and access the resources they need.

Many people in recovery feel isolated from family, friends and peers. As a recovery coach, you can perform meaningful work in fostering positive relationships and helping others in recovery participate in community support systems. People in recovery may also have gaps in life skills, social assets, or job training. Using your own experience in recovery, you can assist others as they identify their strengths and work on developing practical strategies for achieving their goals.

People who have experienced recovery are uniquely positioned to provide support for others in recovery. As a recovery coach, you can draw from your lived experience to provide emotional support and assistance to individuals as they set recovery goals and develop strategies for healthy living. To become a peer recovery coach in Minnesota, you must complete training and pass an exam to earn certification as a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS).

Types of Recovery Coach Certification in Minnesota

The Minnesota Certification Board oversees all credentialing processes in Minnesota. There are three levels of peer recovery specialist certification available.

Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS)This entry-level credential certifies you have basic skills in peer recovery coaching.  
Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS).This certification is for advanced recovery specialists who have completed supervised work experience.  
Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Reciprocal (CPRSR)This next-level certification is intended for CPRSR and other behavioral specialists who wish to supervise those with CRPRS credentials and assist with professional development.

To apply for certification as CPRS or CPRSR, you must fulfill the following requirements.

  • Education: You need a high school diploma or its equivalent (GED)
  • Residency: You must live in Minnesota for more than half the calendar year
  • Training: You must complete 46 hours of training in specified areas
  • Exam: You need a passing score on a peer recovery exam
  • Fee: For your first certification, the fee is $150. The annual renewal fee is $75.

The CPRSR credential requires an additional 25 hours of supervised work experience. You must take the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) Peer Recovery examination rather than the state-based test. If you already have a CPRS credential, you can upgrade to a CPRSR  by completing the 25 hours of supervision and 500 hours of work experience. The fee to upgrade this certification is $30.

To meet the requirements for CPRSAP, you must first qualify for the CPRSR credential and then undergo three additional hours of training and complete 500 hours of employment or volunteer experience working directly with clients. Someone in peer recovery services must supervise your work.

How to Train as a Recovery Coach in Minnesota

To train as a peer recovery coach, you must start with a high school diploma or its equivalency. A college degree isn’t necessary for certification, but you must take courses in peer recovery-related topics. You can take the courses at colleges or universities (including online courses), or you can attend workshops or seminars. You should keep a record of all your training.

The 46 hours of training must cover the four domains of peer recovery: advocacy, mentoring/education, recovery support, and ethical responsibility. You must complete 10 hours in the first three domains and 16 hours in ethical responsibility.

The MCB has approved several programs that fulfill the necessary training. They include the following:

  • Beyond Brink also offers Peer Recovery Specialist Training that can prepare you for the certification exam.
  • Doc’s Recovery House is a nonprofit organization serving those in recovery. It’s located in Rochester, MN.
  • You can take the five-day training program by Refocus Recovery in person in Minneapolis or by live video.
  • Twin Cities Recovery Project, Inc. specializes in training people from underserved communities. Training is accessible for people of color and those from low-income backgrounds.

Schedules and costs will vary. In any training program, you may take courses in subjects such as peer recovery principles, addiction and dependency science, stigma, cultural awareness, boundary setting and ethical principles.

Taking the Certification Exam

If you’re applying for CPRS certification for the first time, you may choose to take either the Minnesota State-based Peer Recovery Exam or the IC&RC exam. If you want a CPRSR credential, you must take the IC&RC exam.

You can take the Minnesota State-based exam on a computer in any location. A remote proctor will supervise the exam. You’ll have two hours to complete 75 true/false and multiple-choice questions. The exam covers topics such as substance abuse, opioid use, treatment approaches and cultural differences.

You must take the IC&RC exam at one of six testing centers located throughout Minnesota. The IC&RC test is computer-based and consists of 75 multiple-choice questions covering advocacy, recovery and wellness support, ethical responsibility, mentoring, and education. You have two hours to complete the exam.

To prepare, you can download a study guide from the IC&RC website. The guide reviews principles of recovery coaching such as roles and core values, cultural competence, establishing boundaries and wellness planning. It also gives tips for studying and taking the test. You can practice with 20 sample questions that are similar to those on the exam.

Applying for Minnesota Recovery Coach Certification and Recertification

You can apply for certification online at the MCB website or download and print a paper application to send by mail. The application process includes:

  • Completed application form
  • Signed Code of Ethical Conduct
  • Signed release and consent form
  • Verification of your own recovery experience
  • Payment

In the Code of Ethical Conduct, you must promise to maintain your own personal wellness and recovery, share your lived experience and honor the right of individuals in recovery to choose their own path to recovery. You also promise not to discriminate and to protect the privacy of the persons you work with. Finally, you agree to uphold all laws, regulations and ethical conduct rules.

Your first certification will require renewal after one year. After that, you have to renew your certification once every two years. To qualify for renewal, you must complete 30 hours of continuing education courses. Six of those hours should cover professional ethics and responsibilities. Acceptable continuing education can include workshops, conferences, in-service programs, online courses or classroom events, as long as the content is relevant to the four domains of recovery.

You can also earn continuing education hours by teaching or supervising others, publishing articles, or presenting at a conference. Additionally, you must sign the MCB Code of Ethical Conduct and verify that you have kept all rules and ethical standards related to your credential.

Professional Organizations You Might Find Helpful

Peer recovery coaches can benefit by developing professional networks and staying connected to new developments in the field. After you receive your certification, you can consider joining one of these organizations.

The Peer Support Alliance was created to provide peer recovery specialists with opportunities for mutual support, workshops and employment information.

NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, is an organization for addiction and recovery health professionals. Members have access to independent study courses and webinars that may qualify for continuing education hours. NAADAC has an affiliate chapter in Minnesota.