Peer Counselor Training Program
The Center’s Peer Counselor Training Program is one of three offered in Los Angeles County, and is open to any adult mental health consumer 18 and over who has resolved his or her treatment issues and has achieved mental health stability for an average time length of a year. Also, for consumers who have a co-occurring disorder, it is expected that they will be well grounded in their substance use recovery for a minimum of 18 months. The Peer Counselor Training Program prepares the mental health consumer to use his or her life experience with mental illness, combined with all strengths and skills, in a manner that promotes the mental health recovery of other consumers who are in need of peer-based services.
There are three components, or phases, of the Peer Counselor Training Program. In Phase One, Peer Counseling students attend a twelve week class where they learn about mental health issues, active listening and basic counseling skills, basic assessment, mental health recovery, how to lead groups, how to teach life skills, and how to refer others for appropriate resources in the community. The class is three days each week for a total of 96 hours. In addition to the class, peer counseling students complete 96 hours of internship where they practice the skills being taught at the Center’s Client Run Center, Victory Wellness Center, or through special arrangements in other programs. There are weekly quizzes, a mid-term, oral class presentation, final exam, and internship evaluation. Once peer counseling students complete the curriculum, they graduate into Phase II, where they have the opportunity to either volunteer and/or to participate in the Peer Counseling Job Bank where they receive a stipend and practice peer counseling skills gain pertinent peer counseling experience. As each Peer Counseling Trainee gains experience, and the practice and confidence to do well, he or she begins Phase III of the program where employment areas are identified and support is given to obtain a job in peer counseling or a closely related field. The Center’s Valley Employment Services, in partnership with the Department of Rehabilitation, provides employment services to support this goal.
There is no cost to participate in the Peer Counselor Training Program. Interested mental health consumers are asked to complete an application and attend an initial interview to demonstrate their desire and readiness to begin training. Classes are offered on average four times per year. Referrals are accepted Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5pm by calling (818) 989 – 7475 and asking to speak with Jae Farkas, Peer Counseling Coordinator.