Certified Missouri Peer Specialist Ethics: Conversations from the Field


Sarah Earll

Mickie McDowell

Lisa McDowell

Toni Jordan

Tim Conroy


This will be a highly interactive presentation. Presenters will begin by briefly touching on the concept of Boundaries and the Four Common Elements of Boundary Violations as presented in the CMPS Basic Training Manual. Next presenters will discuss how to develop a framework for making better ethical decisions at work and share a few of the tools CMPS’s are provided for making good boundary/ethical decisions. These will include certain questions one might ask oneself in various situations, the answers to which may lead to making better ethical choices. (10 min)

Next, the presenters will briefly over the CMPS Code of Ethics as presented in the CMPS Basic Training. Handouts will be provided so audience can have hard copy of the Code. Some examples of common ethical violations will be discussed and audience will be asked if there are any specific questions at this point. (5-7 min)

After this, audience will be divided into smaller work groups. The purpose of these smaller groups will be to allow individuals to discuss real life ethical situations – or major boundary issues leading to ethical violations – that they have encountered in their own work in the field. One, or more presenter, will be with each group to help facilitate the discussions (this will depend on number of attendees – ideally the groups should consist of attendees 4-5 and 1-2 presenters). These discussions should include the general situation involved, where the violation or “mistake” was made, and an appropriate resolution. Groups will be asked to pick one situation to share with the whole after reconvening and to have one spokesperson prepared to do this. (20-25 min)

Finally the groups will come back together – mentally – for a general sharing of what was discussed in the smaller groups (small groups will stay together for this section of the presentation/discussion). Each group will be asked to present their situation, point of violation, and resolution. Attendees will be asked if there are any alternate resolutions they can offer. Questions will be fielded by various presenters depending on their familiarity with particular issues. (18-25 min) (60 min total)

This presentation will allow knowledge to flow in various directions and to utilize the resources of not just the presenters, but also those in attendance. This interactive approach will allow for an increase in basic knowledge of an essential aspect of any profession (ethics) as well as increasing and promoting a collaborative understanding of real time happenings in the field.


  • Promoted the knowledge of CMPS Code of Ethics and how it is both fundamentally similar to other codes, but also different in its requirements of self-disclosure.
  • Increase understanding of the role of Peers in the professional workforce and their unique niche on working with persons and families struggling with behavioral health and substance use issues.
  • Emphasize to all types of professions the importance of ethics and increase awareness of how especially vulnerable persons with various behavioral health issues are subjected to violations of ethics and ethical boundaries.


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