Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP, Chair, Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Bruce S Zahn, EdD, ABPP, Chairperson

Second Advisor

Petra Kottsieper, PhD

Third Advisor

Mark Salzer, PhD


The mental health recovery movement has promoted the use of certified peer specialists (CPS) as an indispensable component of the recovery process when working with individuals with severe mental illnesses (SMI) (Solomon, 2004). In addition to assisting others, the literature indicates that the CPS may gain a shared benefit from the CPS experience (Solomon, 2004). The purpose of this study was to examine the benefits that working or volunteering as a CPS can have on the CPS’s personal recovery process and health care costs. Two benefits that were explored are a CPS’s service utilization (outpatient therapy, case management, and inpatient hospitalization) and financial entitlements (SSI, SSDI, and public assistance). This study investigated possible predictors of these benefits, such as demographics (gender, age, etc.), work setting (type of facility and population worked with), work environment (ability to make an impact, feeling supported and understood by supervisor and/or co-workers, etc.), and training factors (years certified, satisfaction with training, etc.) to determine if they correlate with reduced service utilization and/or financial entitlement. This study used a secondary data sample of 185 surveys that were previously administered to CPS in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The findings can be used to further authenticate the CPS training and the CPS career path as a meaningful recovery resource. Strengths, limitations, potential implications, and explanations of the study’s outcomes are also explored.