International Reentry Peer Specialist Certification

Via Hope envisions a world where quality peer support exists wherever people are experiencing and healing from trauma, mental health challenges and substance use challenges. Therefore, we are working to bring peer support to people who are incarcerated or reentering the community after incarceration.


Via Hope has been the leader in Mental Health Peer Specialist certification training in Texas since 2009. The recent national and international conversations related to sentencing and prison reform have highlighted the need for programs and training that target one of the most unspoken, underlying challenges of incarceration — trauma.

In 2018, Via Hope gathered a workgroup of individuals with a cross-section of incarceration experiences to discuss trauma and what was needed to address trauma amongst individuals released from jail or prison. The workgroup conversations were the catalyst for the Reentry Peer Specialist (RPS) certification training, designed to address the significant barriers to becoming a whole person that impact employment and other reentry challenges that many people face after release from incarceration.

About the RPS certification training

The Reentry Peer Specialist certification training curriculum was developed and co-written by Dr. Sandra D. Smith (who herself was formerly incarcerated), Darcy Kues, JD, and Maureen Nichols, with financial support from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.

This credential offers formerly incarcerated individuals an opportunity to further their own recovery while providing support and hope to other people who may be trying to find their own way through reentry and recovery. This peer specialist training model is distinct from others because it emphasizes the trauma people experience before, during, and after incarceration.

Beyond Texas

The need for reentry peer support  and conversations about the traumatic effects of incarceration extend far beyond Texas. Thus, the International Reentry Peer Specialist Certification® was born. This certification gives individuals the opportunity to join a growing global community of like-minded peer specialists doing reentry work. 

Via Hope offers this international certification to anyone who fulfills the following requirements and has a desire to help others based on their own lived experience with incarceration. Be part of a global movement to change the stigma around incarceration!

Requirements for the International Reentry Peer Specialist Certification®:

  • Texas applicants must be active JI-RPS in the Texas Certification Board system and maintain certification according to TCB requirements
  • Applicants from outside Texas must complete Via Hope’s RPS Certification Training prior to applying
  • The application fee is $175

Click here to begin the application

Note: the IRPS® does not supersede any state requirements for Peer Specialist certification.

For questions, contact [email protected].

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