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Education & Training

Peer Counseling Program 

Module 1:  Introduction to Peer Counseling

Following an introduction to cultural competency the majority of the course is concerned with building effective communication skills, with a special emphasis on listening skills that are so integral to peer counseling.  Anger management, decision-making, and conflict resolution are also covered.  The concept of recovery is introduced.  This course is highly beneficial for anybody with mental illness, whether they intend to pursue peer counseling or not.  Frequent role plays are utilized to develop clients’ abilities for effective interpersonal relationships.


Module 2:  Peer Counseling and Case Management

The concept of “recovery” is presented with explanation of skills needed to continue on a path of recovery.  The student is given an overview of peer counseling and an introduction to case management skills.   A detailed presentation of cultural competency and mental illness includes a view of race and ethnicity in terms of access, diagnosing, treating, and outcomes.  Material is also presented that compares treatment and outcomes in the West as compared to the developing world.  Standards of ethical behavior are reviewed and documentation methods are introduced.  Various forms of counseling are reviewed including dual diagnosis approaches, CBT and DBT.

Module 3:   Introduction to Abnormal Psychology

This course deals almost exclusively with review of the DSM V and its primary diagnoses.  Major mental illnesses are emphasized and personality disorders are included.  Past and current theories of causes of psychiatric disabilities are introduced with basic concepts of neurobiology.  Case examples are reviewed and discussed.  Emphasis is not on diagnosis but recognition.  Treatment approaches are briefly reviewed with each diagnosis.

Module 4:   Introduction to Psychiatric Medications

This course presents material on psychotropic medications from a first exposure perspective.  Classes of medications are introduced along with types of psychiatric diagnoses.  Basic concepts of pharmacological action are reviewed with benefits and side effects.  The main objective of the course is to introduce symptom management with pharmacology.

Module 5:   Advanced Peer Counseling/Case Management

Approaches to case management are introduced in this course, including Assertive Community Treatment and the Strengths Model.  The course makes extensive use of case review and discussion, with tests focused on students’ ability to analyze sample cases with case management recommendations.  Assessment procedures are reviewed with role-playing. The concepts of assisted employment, assisted education and assisted housing are introduced.  Community resources are reviewed and presented by class members.


Community Action Marin offers certificates of completion at the end of each course.


The first module allows the student to be trained and employed as a Peer Counselor at places like the Enterprise Resource Center, Linda Reed Activity Club and the Warm Line.  Upon completion of the second module, the student is eligible to become a Peer Case Aide at one of the agencies with which Community Action Marin has a contract.  Completing the third module opens the position of Peer Case Manager; and completion of the fourth and fifth courses allows the student to become eligible for a Senior Peer Case Manager position.  (Note:  Sometimes hires are made based upon the requirement that the employee take the requisite classes as soon as they are offered).  Note that each module is three months in length.  Each subject is given twice per week for one and a half hours.  The total Peer Counseling curriculum takes 19 months with a month between each course.  The first module is offered each cycle while the other modules are offered in order. 


Completion of the following modules enables the following:


Module 1             Peer Counselor

Module 2             Peer Case Aide

Module 3             Peer Case Manager

Module 4 & 5     Senior Peer Case Manager


Instructor:           Hali Floreen


For further information please contact:


Hali Floreen        415-721-2234