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 relative 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 returning citizens. The workgroup conversations were the catalyst for the current Reentry Peer Specialist (RPS) certification training, designed to directly address the significant barriers to becoming a whole person that effects 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. The emphasis on the trauma individuals experience before, during and after incarceration is a significant distinction from other training models.

Beyond Texas

After four years, it became very clear that the need for this training and trauma conversations extended beyond Texas. Thus, the International Reentry Peer Specialist Certification® was born! 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.

Applications Open june 3rd

Application Requirements:

  • Texas applicants must be active JI-RPS in the Texas Certification Board system
  • The application fee is $175

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

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