Date of Award

Summer 8-21-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

First Advisor

Andrea Doyle

Second Advisor

Rosemary Frasso


The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the experiences and utilization of Certified Peer Support Specialists employed on Dialectical Behavior Therapy teams. Trends in the literature regarding peer support include the challenges faced by Peer Support Specialists, the benefits peers gained by employment, and solutions for ongoing peer program development. There is also an abundance of studies supporting the use of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for treating Borderline Personality Disorder and other DBT adaptations for specific populations. Currently, there is limited literature available that discusses the training of line staff in DBT and no published studies that discuss the use of Certified Peer Support Specialists (CPSS’s) on DBT teams specifically. The State of Michigan mandates that DBT teams include a CPSS. Data were collected through the use of in-depth key informant interviews with thirteen CPSS’s working on DBT teams throughout Michigan. A thematic analysis was completed on the resultant transcripts. The analysis identified four salient themes that include: 1) the benefits of CPSS’s employment on themselves and their clients, 2) the challenges CPSS’s face, 3) the responsibilities and functions of those roles being filled by the CPSS’s, and 4) the supervision and support provided to CPSS’s. Further research on this topic is encouraged and this study recommends how CPSS’s can be used on DBT teams.

Included in

Social Work Commons