Last updated 12/28/20

This is a list of questions we often answer. If you have a question, it’s a good idea to check this list before making a call to user support. Chances are, someone else has had the same question.

What is the Academy of Peer Services?

The Academy of Peer Services (APS) is an open source, online, on-demand, training and testing platform funded and sponsored by the New York State Office of Mental Health (NYOMH). The courses include the 13 CORE courses required as a first step toward applying for New York State Peer Specialist Certification, and nearly 50 other elective, continuing education, and professional development courses as well as webinars on current issues and events in the peer support workforce. To view the latest course catalog, click here.

Is there a fee for taking the courses?

At this time, APS courses are free of charge.

Do I need to live in New York State?

At this time, APS courses are free of charge and available to anyone with an internet connection anywhere.

What are the Terms of Use?

Although APS is open to all who have an internet and an interest in peer support services, use of this resource carries certain responsibilities and obligations. View the Acceptable Use Policy.

What is the New York Peer Specialist Certification Board?

The New York Peer Specialist Certification Board oversees the application and certification for Peer Support Specialists.  The Board works collaboratively with the APS but is a separate and distinct group that makes all determinations about the New York Peer Certified Peer Specialist certification. For more information on certification, please visit:  http://nypeerspecialist.org.

Are there other peer certifications in New York State?

Yes, there are certifications for substance use recovery support that are recognized by the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) and managed by the Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers of New York State (ASAP). There are also certifications for youth peer advocates and family peer advocates managed by Families Together in NYS. Visit our Peer Certifications in NY State page to learn more.

When does the Calendar Term begin / end?

APS courses are offered in three terms per year.  Terms run from January to March, May to July, and September to December each year. For exact start and end dates, visit the APS homepage at www.academyofpeerservices.org.

What is the APS Virtual Learning Community?

The Virtual Learning Community is a project of the Academy of Peer Services intended to create a bridge from knowledge gained in the online courses to connecting with others to apply skills to practice peer support and supervision in the current workforce. To learn more about the Virtual Learning Community, you can explore the website.

How do I register (enroll) in courses?

Visit www.academyofpeerservices.org and click the blue button labeled Log in.  You will be prompted to either log in (for existing users) or to create an account.  If you are a new user, fill out the registration form to access the site for the first time. You will receive a confirmation email that allows you to create your own password and activate your account.

What if I forget my username or password?

There is a Forgot Password button on the Login screen that you can use to reset your password.

(Minimum length is  8 characters with at least one uppercase, one lowercase, one number, and one symbol.)

For step by step instructions related to using the system, visit the online User Guide.

Can I take the courses on a mobile device (smart phone / tablet)?

The technology used to create the courses can be displayed in mobile devices and most users have reported no problems in registering for and completing the courses using tablets and smartphones. If you do encounter a problem, report it by email to the APS User Support Specialist who will assist you: academyofpeerservicesnyomh@gmail.com

When I try to start a course, nothing happens. What should I do?

Make sure you are using the latest version of one of the approved web browsers: Microsoft Edge, Chrome, or Firefox. (Apple Safari is not approved and Internet Explorer is not supported).

You may also need to do one or more of the following things to set up your computer for the course to work correctly:

  • Unblock pop-up windows. You can do this by adjusting the settings in your web browser. Learn how to do this in the different browsers.
  • Clear the history in your browser.
  • Make sure your internet connection is stable.
  • Free up space on your computer for the course to run correctly.|
  • Withdraw from the course and re-register (to reset the course).

To learn more about accessing and completing courses, visit the online User Guide.

If you have registered for a course but it won’t open, you may need to Withdraw from the course and Register again. There is no penalty for withdrawing from a course. It will not appear on your transcript.

For the steps to Withdraw and Register again, go to this section of the User Guide.

If you are still having difficulty opening a course, send email, specifying the internet browser you are using to our User Support Specialist:  academyofpeerservicesnyomh@gmail.com

When I start a course only the first screen is visible. What should I do?

When the course opens, a Next button should appear at the bottom of the screen that will allow you to move through the course. If the Next button is not visible, reduce the screen size in your browser (Zoom) or try opening up the course in a different browser.

If you still cannot see the Next button, send email to our User Support Specialist: academyofpeerservicesnyomh@gmail.com

Are the courses accessible to people with sensory disabilities?

Yes, there are versions of the courses available that can be viewed with different types of adaptive technology, such as magnifiers to view an enlarged version of the course screens, lists of how to find closed captions and transcripts for audio/video content in the courses, and text files for screen readers and automated narration devices for the course content.

If you need a special accommodation, send email to our User Support Specialist:  academyofpeerservicesnyomh@gmail.com

Is there a list of pre-requisites for each of the courses?

When you register for a course, there is an “i” button that takes you to a full description of each course and its prerequisites. The online course catalog also contains a full description of each course with information about any prerequisites.

For the Core courses (required to apply for the NY CPS peer specialist certification) three courses have prerequisites that need to be completed before you can take the next course in the sequence:

  • Introduction to Person Centered Principles – the prerequisite is The Goal is Recovery
  • Olmstead: The Continued Mandate for Deinstitutionalization – the prerequisite is The Rehabilitation Act and ADA
  • Peer Delivered Service Models –  the prerequisite is The Historical Roots of Peer Support Services

In the Course Dashboard, you’ll see these three courses are “pending” courses until the pre-requisite for each course has been complete.

Some of the Elective course have similar pre-requisites:

  • An Overview of Peer Wellness Coaching  – the prerequisite is Introduction to Person Centered Principles
  • Community Organizing – the prerequisite is Development of Community Assets
  • Integrated Dual Disorders Treatment (IDDT) – the prerequisite is Harm Reduction
  • Motivational Interviewing – the prerequisite is Essential Communication Skills
  • Peer Leadership the prerequisite is Peer Delivered Service Models
  • Psychiatric Advance Directives – the prerequisite is Human and Patient Rights in New York

And the Supervision Track also has a course with a prerequisite:

  • SPS101 – Introduction to Supervising Peer Specialists (Course 2), Situations and Strategies – the pre-requisite is SPS100 Introduction to Supervising Peer Specialists – Key Concepts

What do I need to do to pass a course?

For each course, there is a posttest. A passing score of 75% or higher is required. Two attempts are allowed per calendar term.  If you do not achieve a passing score in two attempts, you can try again on or after the first day of the next term. Calendar term start and end dates are posted on the Academy of Peer Services home page and the Virtual Learning Community home page.

After achieving a passing score, you will need to fill out a Course Evaluation (required) and then you will be able to print a certificate of completion.

Note: There may be up to a one hour delay from the time you pass the posttest and complete the Course Evaluation until the certificate is available to print. 

How can I study for the posttest?

There is a Resource file for every course that contains the objectives for the course and an outline of the course. The test questions are based on the learning objectives and designed to verify that you’ve successfully met the learning objectives. The best way to study is to review the learning objectives and make sure you can answer them, based on what you learned in the course.

After your first attempt at taking the posttest, there is an online test review feature that allows you to review the answers you provided so that you can study for a second attempt to take the test. Printing a test and answers is prohibited, and the ability to do so has been disabled in the system. Sharing answers to test questions with others enrolled in the Academy is a direct violation of the Terms of Use and the Certification Board Code of Ethical Conduct, which can lead to the loss of privilege to take courses in the Academy or to achieve certification.

What do I need to apply for the Peer Specialist Certification?

Completing the 13 Core Courses is the first step in the process. Visit the NY Peer Specialist Certification Board website to learn more about requirements for different levels of certification.

What else can I do to learn about using the APS site?

For step-by-step instructions related to managing your courses and certificates, visit the online APS User Guide.

Still Have Questions?

New York Peer Specialist Certification Board

The Academy of Peer Services is the online training and testing site, but the New York Peer Specialist Certification Board is the final authority on accepting credit toward the New York State certification. A separate FAQ related to certification and the requirements for the different levels of certification and renewal can be found on the New York Peer Specialist Certification Board website.

Academy of Peer Services User Guide

If you have questions about logging in, taking courses, or printing certificates in the Academy of Peer Services, review the step by step instructions in the APS User Guide.

APS Virtual Learning Community

If you want to know about current events, research, training opportunities, job openings, or see a webinar on a topic of interest to the peer support workforce, watch for the monthly Virtual Learning Community newsletter or explore the VLC website.

APS User and Technical Support

For other questions related to accessing and managing the courses, Send email to: academyofpeerservicesnyomh@gmail.com